St Athan 2-3 Penydarren BC
St Athan heroically came back from two goals down to give SWFA Alliance League Penydarren a major fright in this SWFA Intermediate Cup semi final.
Despite being three leagues and 48 places higher than Saints and just one below Welsh league level, St Athan very nearly caused a sensational upset in an excellent cup tie.
Saints went in two goals down at half time but fought back through goals from Joe Laing and Paul Lucas to draw the game level, however, Penydarren broke Saints hearts late on with a winner.
Saints welcomed back five first team regulars after their suprise mid week defeat but it was their higher league opposition that started slightly brighter.
Penydarren carved open some half chances early on with Gareth Richatds being called upon to mourns good stop on six minutes.
St Athan combatted well and looked to stay well organised, but a free kick given away on the right of the area proved their undoing. The free kick was whipped in and Penydarren were headed in front.
Saints looked to get forward but saw their options reduced and Penydarren’s tails were now up and they soon doubled their lead.
A Penydarren counter attack saw a long ball over the top picked up on the left, the forward was able to drift into the area and finished well.
Saints rallied and Josh Morgan saw a strike well held by the Penydarren keeper as St Athan looked for a way back into the game but went in 2-0 down.
St Athan were down but not out and stirred into life in the second half. Two early free kicks from Morgan gave Saints optimism.
Saints pushed forward and now it was Penydarren who were rattled as St Athan had nothing to lose.
Then the turning point, keeper come towering forward Paul Lucas was brought on from the bench. Some say he measures in at 8 foot tall but we all know he is taller.
The height of the new introduction proved a massive issues for the Penydarren defence and while they were worrying about him at a corner, the ball dropped to Jonathan Ashton, his scuffed effort dropped to Joe Laing at the far post who turned the ball in. A glimmer of hope for Saints.
Saints were in the ascendancy now, defensively superb in repelling any attack and working tirelessly in midfield.
Then on 65 minutes St Athan got their just rewards, a back pass to the Penydarren keeper saw Lucas close him down, the towering figure of the Saints forward was too much for the keeper to bare and crumbled for Lucas to rob him of possession and roll the ball into the empty net to send Saints into raptures!!
Penydarren looked to hit back and saw an excellent effort inches wide. Moments later Lucas almost made himself even more of a cult hero as a cross from Steel saw Lucas hit a volley that seemed destined for the top corner only to be tipped away by the keeper.
The game was fantastically poised and with extra time looming the breakthrough finally came. A Penydarren corner was whipped into the near post and well dispatched by the forward to break Saints hearts and give Penydarren the lead once more.
Saints poured forward in search of an equaliser and Reece Lewis’ free kick found James Austin but his header went over. It was Lewis moments later who fired over and then Austin’s rasping drive from distance was well held.
Penydarren held on to head into the final. St Athan after a great cup run were finally out. But what a story. A tremendous game and effort by St Athan who can be extremely proud of their endeavours against a very good side in Penydarren.
It’s back to league action on Wednesday as St Athan host league leaders Vale United.
We’d like to thank our sponsors Owens Motor Services, Llandow for their tremendous support of the club. Also many thanks to Diving & Marine Engineering, Llantwit Valet & Car Wash and Kinsale Stone Co (Wales) Ltd.