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Sunday, 19 April 2015 19:26

The New Mushrooms ?

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SATURDAY 18th APRIL: Swanbridge Sports Ground - bright and breezy.
SULLY SPORTS 0 PONTLOTTYN 1 (South Wales Senior League Div 1)
There are literally dozens of significant games this weekend as many Welsh competitions approach decision points on championships, promotions and relegations. I'm spoiled for choice, but am keen to see the clash of the two title chasers in the Senior League: Pontlottyn, now favourites after a great run, visiting Sully Sports, who need to win to close the gap and make the Rhymney Valley side's task harder. So, on a day when no trains are running on local Cardiff lines, I make a couple of bus journeys out to the edge of the Bristol Channel, to pleasant seaside Sully. On arriving at Swanbridge Road, I'm surprised to find the space between football pitch and clubhouse occupied by a circus big top, from which tinny music and other sounds will provide an unlikely sound-track to the title showdown.

Sully have experience on their side: four times Senior League winners in the last ten seasons, they know the tension of these situations and have come through them before. Pontlottyn have momentum on their side - not just the recent run of form that has swept them to the top of the league and to the SWFA Senior Cup final, but the upward trend over their short existence. This is a club that has "mushroomed" out of nothing (to use a term applied a century ago to the original mushroom club, Mid Rhondda) and they're full of confidence and belief.

It's obvious that the windy conditions will affect this match: a fierce easterly is blowing end to end and Sully have it at their backs first. Long balls run too far; balls in the air swirl. Sully have the ability to run at defences, and threaten to make the breakthrough on various occasions, but Pontlottyn hold firm. They manage a few attacks of their own, including a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the Sully area, but seem content to frustrate the home side. Half time arrives with no score, and the match still quite subdued.

Sully have clearly decided to respect the wind in the second half - they are not kicking long into the wind but trying to pass from deep. This slows their progress and means Pontlottyn can attack a little more, although still there's little urgency. There is plenty of tension though, maybe this affecting the players as much as the conditions.

A 0-0 draw begins to look like the probable outcome, and this would be fine for the visitors. Sully need to get a goal, and need to get men forward, but maybe fear of conceding prevents all-out attack. Suddenly, with around 20 minutes left, their task becomes even harder, as Pontlottyn attack down the left, the ball is taken to the goal-line and pulled back: at the far post, a blue shirted player meets it and forces it over the line. Pontlottyn's bench goes wild.

Sully do their best to get on terms, and have a fair amount of possession in the visitors' half. But Pontlottyn are never pushed towards panic, and are able to relieve the pressure at times and take the ball to corners. Time ticks away, and the score stays 0-1. This hasn't completely decided the league title - Penydarren are still top, but Sully can't finish above third after this defeat. Pontlottyn are not champions yet, they still need two points from their last two matches to overtake Penydarren, but it's unthinkable that they won't accomplish that.

Read 3614 times Last modified on Sunday, 21 June 2015 20:20

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