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Thursday, 16 March 2017 22:00

A Dr Jekyll Night for Barry

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TUESDAY 14th MARCH: Jenner Park - mild and misty
BARRY TOWN UNITED 2 HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 1)
A misty, murky spring evening in Barry, but potentially a night of season-defining proportions for the Jenner Park club. On arrival at the ground, there's a sort of nervous tension pervading all pre-match conversations - "can't afford to lose", "must win", "six-pointer" etc.

And of course the tension is magnified by Barry's inconsistent, Jekyll and Hyde form in the league. You really wouldn't want have a significant wager riding on them - and it's this that differentiates the Welsh League title race from the other top leagues - TNS running away with the Welsh Premier, Prestatyn likewise in the Cymru Alliance, and both already crowned. Those are the sort of bets you'd have wanted to be on - short priced favourites, preferably selected under a Free Bet offer to maximise the return. Given such an opportunity now, I'd go for TNS to complete the treble, and steer clear of the trappy, unpredictable Welsh League.

Actually, ahead of this game it is Haverfordwest who have been talked up as the form team, with the momentum since the turn of the year, and maybe poised to sweep past Barry. To add to the intrigue and interest, there's the matter of revenge for that 7-1 battering the Bluebirds received here in the WPL Cup a few months back, plus the 'will they, won't they' saga of their attitude to promotion to the Welsh Premier.

Such a game could be cagey, paralysed by caution and fear of failure. But it is anything but. From the outset, it's open, both teams inviting their opponents to come at them, so we see end-to-end football, and chances at both ends. Barry miss a couple of early opportunities, later in the half Haverfordwest come more into the game and Mike Lewis's goal has a couple of narrow escapes. But then, with half-time approaching, Barry attack down the right and the ball is worked laterally, coming to Louis Gerrard just outside the area. He advances - seems to have taken too many touches - but shoots hard and low through the crowded goalmouth. The ball hits the net and the stands erupt in relief.

The mood at half time is a happy one: the fans, who have been disappointed in previous key league fixtures, sense their team are looking like title prospects tonight. There's just the small matter of 45 more minutes yet. In fact, they are less agonising for the Jenner Park faithful than might have been the case. For a while, admittedly, Barry are hit by wave after wave of Haverfordwest attacks, but look solid at the back. Gradually, they begin to exploit the space in their opponents' half, and on one such occasion a trip 30 yards out gives them a free-kick. Quickly taken, it finds Gerrard, whose feint and cross catches the Bluebirds defence out. TJ Nagi provides the finishing touch with a cushioned header and it's 2-0. There's a clear sense that this could be a very important goal indeed.

Haverfordwest do not look likely to come back from two down, and Barry end the evening surprisingly comfortably, the early tension gone, the fans now oozing confidence. That may be premature, but there's no denying Barry are a step closer to the Welsh Premier after this deserved win.

Read 4170 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 March 2017 22:10

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