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Sunday, 01 February 2015 11:37


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SATURDAY 31st JANUARY: Pen-y-Pound Stadium: sunny but very cold.
Although I had planned to go north again this week for my FAW Trophy action, the wintry weather has been worse up there and I have to play safe and watch one of the south Wales ties: of the three options, Abergavenny is the least exposed to the fierce northerly wind, and so a first visit to Abergavenny Town in their new home of Penypound Stadium (which I visited nearly six months ago when the venue's other tenants, Monmouth Town, moved in).

Saturday proves sunny and not quite as raw as forecast, but still cold in the wind. The stroll through Abergavenny from station to ground is a favourite of mine, and allows time for a quick refreshment stop - a nice drop of local ale Butty Bach in the King's Arms. Then up to Penypound, which hasn't changed much since the flurry of building work in the summer: the derelict stand sits untouched, its asbestos problem a deterrent to any immediate progress.

Abergavenny Town have built some real momentum as a club this season: top of the Gwent County League by a distance, and busy on social media and in the town establishing their new identity after moving from the village of Govilon. Their opponents from the Rhondda come as underdogs and if they have supporters here today, they are outnumbered and out-chanted by the home crowd, swelled by the club's second team.

From the outset the Marvels seem to be struggling with the size of the pitch and the pace of the home side. Town, in blue, hit the post early on, but have to wait seventeen minutes for the first goal, a deflected shot credited to Craig Norman. On the balance of play, Town should build a bigger lead, but the Marvels keep them out and as the first half draws to a close the reds begin to enjoy a good spell, with two free-kicks and a bit of pressure.

The visitors start the second half brightly too, and it is clear the next goal could be key: it comes six minutes after the break, Town no. 9 Jenkins pouncing on a parried shot to fire home. At 2-0 it's pretty much game over, as Abergavenny are unlikely to concede two, so the match dies a little. Eventually interest is re-kindled when Jamie Laurent adds a third for Town - in a move in which he and two team-mates look way offside - and five minutes from time substitute Jake Heckles is given an almost open goal to add the fourth. A very comprehensive win for a strong Abergavenny side, and although their fans seem to want an away-day in the quarter-finals, I think to progress they need the draw not to send them to Hakin or Holywell in particular.

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