Bluebirds in a flap
12:00pm Wednesday 31st October 2012 in Sport
Haverfordwest County 3
Taffs Well 3
The Bluebirds took a 3-1 half-time lead with some expansive and dangerous attacking before a collective decline saw them lose all cohesion in a dismal second half.
They did in fact make the worst of all possible starts when stand-in keeper James Manson brought down a Well forward in the third minute, conceding a penalty which Jamal Roberts hammered in.
For a few minutes the Wellmen were passing the ball neatly and well, but by the 10th minute fans were aware the Blues were now beginning to hit a nice attacking rhythm.
Mike Ellis and his management team had reverted to traditional 4-4-2 for this game and Jack Christopher was paired up front with the very promising Ben Steele, goal hero of the previous week.
From the start this duo were looking fluent and positive and Steffan Williams was really firing out on the left wing, despite all the problems of having the ball sent to his wrong foot. This attacking trio began to plague an increasingly uncertain Well defence.
The equaliser came in the 11th minute when Chris O’Sullivan’s curling corner reached Williams, surely the shortest man in the penalty area, and he rose to drive in his header. An equally good goal came in the 17th minute when Steele slipped the slickest of passes between centre back and full back, and Christopher was able to steam in from the right and drive through keeper Wilson from the narrowest of angles.
The third goal, in the 38th minute, was a set-piece classic, as another O’Sullivan corner reached Christopher who positively blasted his header into the roof of the net.
A few alarm bells clattered just after half-time, after some ten minutes of building Taffs Well pressure, when another clumsy challenge conceded a second penalty and Jamal Roberts was able to drive in another cracking strike. And suddenly the Bluebirds began to struggle.
They never got their rhythm back and, as Steele began to tire slightly, the bench brought on debutant midfielder Anthony Finselbach.
In a way this was understandable after the horrors of the injury-time defeat by West End a week earlier, but the management may well have wondered later whether introducing striker Greg Walters at this point, to maintain the successful 4-4-2 format of the first half, might have given them more chance of a fourth goal.
But all this is speculation after the event, and if the Blues had hung on to the 3-2, there would have been satisfaction all round. As it was, two brave one-on-one stops by Manson denied a Well attack which was growing sprightlier by the minute, before, ten minutes from time, Manson parried Marcus Jones’ shot into the path of Jordan Jones who pounced for the equaliser.
Haverfordwest County: James Manson, Jordan Smith (Martin Carroll, 68), Antonio Facciuto, Lee Bevan, Liam Hancock,Ricky Watts, Chris O’Sullivan (Rob Morgans, 85), Chris Holloway, Ben Steele (Anthony Finselbach, 73), Jack Christopher, Steffan Williams. Subs not used: Phil Cattlin, Greg Walters.