Port ready for top-two clash

Caernarfon Herald - - SPORT -

PORTH­MADOG’S Welsh Cup third round tie at Air­bus Broughton this Satur­day prom­ises to be an ab­so­lute cracker, re­ports Gareth Wil­liams.

The clash at the Hollingsworth Group Sta­dium with in­volve the top two teams in the Huws Gray Al­liance as a re­sult of Port’s ex­cel­lent 4-1 win against Holy­well Town last week­end.

Air­bus are streets ahead at the sum­mit, with 14 straight vic­to­ries to their name and a 13-point lead over Craig Papirnyk’s sec­ond-place hope­fuls, who none­the­less are ca­pa­ble of giv­ing the Wing­mak­ers a big test.

When the sides met in the league back in Septem­ber, Air­bus needed an 80th minute de­cider from James Hooper to edge a 2-1 tri­umph.

That was Port’s last de­feat and they have since gone 10 un­beaten in all com­pe­ti­tions, win­ning nine of those games.

The Traeth out­fit may have left it late to clinch the spoils against Holy­well last Satur­day, but this was a con­vinc­ing and well de­served three points.

Port got off to a fly­ing start, open­ing the scor­ing af­ter just three min­utes. Fly­ing wing Sion Ed­wards broke to the by­line on the left and his low cross was turned in by Ju­lian Wil­liams from close range.

On 14 min­utes, the Well­men lev­elled when ex­pe­ri­enced striker Steve Lewis was brought down by Ceri James just in­side the box on the left. Lewis him­self took the kick and thumped an em­phatic equaliser.

Port con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the play. An Ed­wards cor­ner led to Jay Gibbs’ goal­bound strike hit­ting a de­fender on the head to avert a cer­tain goal.

A cou­ple of min­utes later, Ed­wards put Wil­liams in be­hind the vis­i­tors de­fence and he squared the ball for Dan Das­calu. The ref­eree turned down strong ap­peals for a penalty when a skir­mish fol­lowed as Das­calu tried to tap the ball into the net.

Mike Platt pulled off a good save to keep out Ifan Em­lyn’s 20-yard ef­fort, while, at the other end, Paul Pritchard did well to thwart Lewis’ well-struck long dis­tance free kick.

In first half added time, Wil­liams net­ted his sec­ond when he headed home Ed­wards’ firmly hit cor­ner.

The sec­ond half saw Port con­tinue to cre­ate and spurn good op­por­tu­ni­ties and, with just a goal be­tween the sides, Holy­well were spurred on by the knowl­edge one break could put them on level terms.

Platt saved well from Iwan Lewis be­fore Pritchard needed to be alert to keep out an­other Steve Lewis free kick. Lewis was soon de­nied again by Pritchard.

Then, much to the re­lief of home sup­port­ers, Port at last put the game to bed.

With six min­utes re­main­ing, Gibbs slot­ted Shaun Ca­vanagh in be­hind the home de­fence and the lead­ing scorer ap­plied a su­per fin­ish just in­side the far post.

The three points were now safe, but Gibbs still had one huge trick up his sleeve. With two min­utes left he burst into space in mid­field, saw Platt off his line and his 35-yard chip flew over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net.

Holy­well were de­nied an added time con­so­la­tion by the cross­bar, when main threat Lewis went close again.

Pix: RICHARD BIRCH

Porth­madog cel­e­brate a goal against Holy­well and, in­set, Port’s Ifan Em­lyn Jones wins a chal­lenge

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