Great eight as Pennies hit milestones in title chase

Adran South League

Abergavenny Women FC 8

Merthyr Town FC Women 0

Thursday 17th March 2022 3:46 pm

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The Pennies put one hand on the league title with a thumping 8-0 home win on Sunday, and a win will secure it tonight (Thursday, March 17) at third-placed Briton Ferry.

In a re-arranged fixture bumped forward to a spare Sunday, two sides poles apart on the Adran South table set out with very different game plans, reports ANDREW KENNEDY.

Re-arranged games slotted in at the end of the season often see different line ups, and such was the case at Pen-Y-Pound on Sunday.

Two tough weekday matches were too much for the dynamic U19s, with the exception of Marnie Gingell making her first start in goal for the seniors.

But the timing was perfect for two returnees, American Jess Bennett having just returned from Ohio after a family visit, who last played for the Pennies in mid-November, and new mum Zoe Russell, who last played in October, 2020, who started on the bench.

The away fixture with Merthyr on February 22 proved a tough day for Aber’s opponents, who lost 15-0.

One week later they couldn’t field a side, so the return match was re-arranged, meaning the last four Abergavenny WFC matches needed to be played over just 11 days.

On a wet pitch, damage limitation was in the visitors’ minds – with at least five defenders – while Abergavenny confidently played a high line.

At times the only Penny in the home side’s half was goalie Gingell, while usual keeper Charlotte Hastings’ plans to be away having changed saw her kitted out as an outfield player on the bench.

The reshuffle also saw Elena Scrivens moved up front, and she duly delivered the first goal of the day, 11 minutes in, meaning that all 16 regular outfield squad members have now scored in the 2021/22 season.

The surface was tricky, with short passes often difficult to receive and move on without slipping, and the goal count would surely have been higher in drier conditions.

But the expected domination by Abergavenny was total, with Lauren Boyd scoring from a long free-kick on the right-hand side in the 20th minute and then delivering an assist to Lyndsey Davies on 37 minutes for a 3-0 half-time lead.

The second half saw Boyd take a heavy tumble, team manager Craig Morgan-Hill bringing her off ahead of Thursday’s important match, while giving Zoe Russell time on the pitch.

Outstandingly, within three minutes Zoe had weaved her way through to send a ball into the box and Lyndsey Davies fired in to make it 4-0.

Goalie turned striker Hastings then joined Lyndsey up front with immediate results, the sub setting up her team-mate’s hat-trick on 69 minutes, a full stretch for the touch seeing her slip to the ground as she watched the speeding ball evade the keeper.

Olivia Barnes swapped with Elena Scrivens on 84 minutes having already played for the U19s at Cardiff Met and Cardiff City earlier in the week.

And the game finished with a flurry of goals – Caitlin Davies feeding Lyndsey Davies (86th minute), captain Ceri Hudson (player of the match) putting in Jess Bennett two minutes later, and then Jess setting up Hastings for a goal in the 90th minute.

The first-choice goalie’s assist and then the goal will long be remembered by the Pen-Y-Pound faithful, making it 17 Pennies who have scored in open play this season, with three more scoring in penalty shoot-outs.

Lyndsey Davies’ tally of 10 goals in the two Merthyr fixtures also sees her well on top in the Adran South scoring table.

Team boss Morgan-Hill said: “It was a good solid performance in tricky conditions. It was really good to see the way we played against a dogged Merthyr side who made it difficult at times.

“There were some great performances too, but I’m especially pleased for young Marnie in goal who was confident and assured today and kept a clean sheet.

“It’s three points on the board and now all roads lead to Briton Ferry.”

The match has been rearranged because of Storm Eunice, and the hosts must at least draw to keep their title hopes alive, while the league leaders will want to preserve their unbeaten record and lift the title.

The match is at Old Road Welfare Ground, Briton Ferry, SA11 2HA tonight (7.45pm kick-off) and the away support is likely to be strong as this is definitely not a match to be missed.

Pictures: Andrew Kennedy

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