St Athan 3-3 Cardiff Airport AET
(St Athan win 5-4 on penalties)
On a day of cup upsets it was St Athan who pulled off a memorable one of their own in the SWFA Intermediate Cup last 16, defeating SWFA Alliance League side Cardiff Airport on penalties.
The game finished 3-3 after extra time with Saints having led twice during the game. Jordan Mortimore notched an impressive double with top scoring Josh Morgan netting the third.
The game was ultimately decided on penalties after an exhilarating 120 minutes with Gareth Richards saving an Airport penalty and Saints Jonathan Ashton converting the decisive spot kick to send the players and fans into raptures.
Saints came into the game without James Austin but welcomed back Mark Drysdale and skipper Jordan Mortimore.
The home side couldn’t have got off to a worse start as on eight minutes Airport took the lead. Saints long throw was easily defended and the long ball from back to front saw the Airport forward out pace the home defence to finish well.
Saints may have feared the worse having gone behind early to higher league opposition but it had the opposite effect and Saints settled.
St Athan created sustained pressure and carved out an opportunity but Morgan pulled the shot wide.
Saints kept up their pressure and tremendous work from the excellent Morgan saw him fashion his own chance that was blocked, the rebound dropping to John Ball who’ stinging effort was well tipped over by the Airport keeper.
From the resulting corner Saints found their leveller. Reece Lewis whipped the ball into the near post and Mortimore got across his man to connect with a bullet header into the net.
Airport came firing back and when Saints were punished for a back pass the resulting free kick could only find the side netting from close range.
Airport now pushed to retake the lead as this game ebbed and flowed back and fore, their forward shooting inches wide.
Back up the other end Lewis won a free kick thirty yards out and it was time for something a little bit special. Mortimore stepped forward to unleash an unstoppable free kick into the very top corner of the goal and Saints had the lead.
Once again Airport came roaring back and their forward out paced the defence on the right but his effort came off the post.
Half time and the hosts went in with a shock but deserved lead.
Airport came out for the second period meaning business and proceeded to put Saints under pressure for long periods but simply couldn’t convert this pressure.
That was until 65 minutes. A throw into the box wasn’t cleared and then cleverly flicked overhead by the away forward to equalise.
Airport pushed for the winner and saw an effort wide but St Athan defended admirably throwing their bodies on the line to deny Airport.
Saints had a tremendous chance to retake the lead but Deon Garrison narrowly headed a corner over the bar.
Again Airport came at the home side but the sheer determination and desire of St Athan began to shine through with the midfield trio of Laing, Charles and Ashton running themselves into the ground.
Morgan, Steel and Lewis worked tirelessly in the opposition half with the back four of Drysdale, Mortimore, Garrison and Cox stupendous. Gareth Richards in goal showing his class with a good save to deny Airport at the death.
Extra time was needed.
Five minutes into the extra thirty minutes and St Athan had the breakthrough their hard work deserved.
Lewis’ cross field ball was in search of Steel but was easily cut out by the head of an Airport defender but he inadvertently headed across his own area straight to Morgan, the youngster doesn’t need to be asked twice when in front of goal and dually put Saints back into the lead.
Further heartache followed for Airport as they were reduced to ten men as one of their players received a second yellow card.
St Athan almost had the game out of site straight away as the resulting free kick saw Mortimore connect with a header but was blocked by the keeper who completed a fine double save to deny Garrison.
Airport didn’t lay down and came out again looking to level the scores and found that goal right on half time of extra time.
A cross field ball found the Airport striker who shrugged off calls of offside to bury the ball into the back of the net.
The second half of extra time was a cagey affair as fatigue set in and both teams needed fine defending to keep the other at bay. Most notably Garrison incredibly clearing off the line at the very end of the match. The game went to penalties.
The lottery of penalise can be cruel and for one player it was. Airport’s second spot kick taker saw his effort expertly saved by Richards. All the other penalties faultlessly dispatched by both sides. It left Jonathan Ashton to step forward, knowing if he scored Saints would be in the quarter finals. Nerves of steel saw Ashton dispatch the penalty and send the home side into jubilation.
An excellent cup tie and big result for St Athan. The win sets up a quarter final with Nelson Cavaliers on 18th March.
St Athan: Richards, Cox, Drysdale, Mortimore, Garrison, Laing, Lewis, Ashton, Steel, Ball, J.Morgan. Subs. Charles, Howells, Robinson.
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.