Gwent Senior Cup
Pontnewydd 4 Mardy FC 4 (AET)
(Pontnewydd 3 Mardy 4 on pens)
An incredible game at Mardy Park on Saturday saw the home team overcome a battling Pontnewydd in a match featuring own goals, a brawl, a red card, three injury time goals and a thrilling penalty shoot out after extra time, reports CLIVE HARRY.
A good start by Mardy saw them carve out several good chances only to be foiled by keeper Chris Watkins.
But the visitors soon showed what they were capable of by forcing Mardy keeper James Edwards into action with two excellent saves in quick succession.
Both keepers would have memorable afternoons for differing reasons and the home side were soon back on the offensive with Nathan Price rounding Watkins but taking the ball just too wide and firing into the side netting.
They weren’t to wait too long for the breakthrough, however, but it came about in bizarre fashion when Watkins palmed out a cross which unluckily hit the back of Pontnewydd defender Nick Gwilliam before trickling back into the net.
Any thoughts that this might cause the visitors heads to drop were soon dispelled when Edwards was forced into two more top notch saves before Dominic White equalised after the rebound from another Edwards save fell to him.
Sam Jones then netted for Mardy but had his effort disallowed for offside before White put Pontnewydd ahead when his half-blocked shot looped into the back of the net.
Keeper Watkins had been booked for a foul outside his area and he was followed into the book by his opposite number Edwards after he ran 25 yards to join in a mass outbreak of handbags after a foul by Brandon Williams who was also booked along with Mardy’s Ben Jones.
There was plenty more action to come with Philip Melville and Price both being foiled by Watkins before the keeper’s afternoon was cut short when he was shown a red card after a second yellow for handball outside his area.
Skipper Nick Jenkins took over in goal and he played his part in marshalling a second half rearguard action for the visitors which resulted in attack after attack being beaten back with some excellent defending.
Although having most of the ball, Mardy were being kept at bay despite centre back Aaron Norman being moved forward and causing problems.
With ten minutes to go, a great shot from Brad Daniels rattled the crossbar but with Pontnewydd in sight of victory after a heroic defensive display, Mardy grabbed an equaliser when, in the third minute of injury time, an Ellis French free-kick found Norman in the area to hook home a wildly celebrated equaliser, meaning extra-time would be necessary.
Play continued in similar vein in the first period with Gareth Williams shooting just over and new signing from Abergavenny Town, Elliott Reynolds, having a shot blocked on the line.
Pontnewydd nevertheless still looked dangerous in breakaways but finally went behind to another injury time goal at the end of the half when a Norman free kick was blocked and Matthew Wham sidefooted the rebound into the top corner for a 3-2 half-time lead.
That should have been the end of the game but somehow the visitors redoubled their efforts and substitute Sheldon Williams scored a shock equaliser only a minute into the final period.
It was thrill a minute stuff and with only four minutes of normal time left Williams looked to have won the game for the visitors when his effort lobbed over Edwards for a 4-3 lead resulting in a pitch invasion by ecstatic visiting supporters.
Mardy threw everybody forward and, cruelly for the visitors, an equaliser arrived in the first minute of injury time yet again when Wham stooped low to head home a Gareth Williams cross.
The resulting penalty shoot out proved equally chaotic with both sides scoring from their first two kicks but both missing their third, with Edwards also missing from the spot before making amends by saving the next Pont spot kick.
After another Mardy miss, the visitors needied to score for victory but put their kick wide and the match was finally settled by another Edwards save with Mardy 4-3 in front. Successful spot kick takers were Wham, French, Melville, and Ben Jones.
This Saturday (February 4), the first team are back in league action with a game at home to The Oak FC whilst the 2nds hope to return to action with a friendly against Forgeside 2nds.