St Athan 5-1 Penarth Town
St Athan put on a fine showing to produce a performance of style and substance to cruise to a well deserved three points on a damp afternoon in the village.
Craig Howells notched an excellent hat trick with Karl Steel and Kieran Ashton adding to the tally.
Saints came into the game missing James Andrews, Jake Sutch and Jordan Mortimore, but Deon Garrison donned the gloves, Lee Reid returned from injury and it was a first team debut for new signing Alex Copilescu.
Copilescu didn’t take long to make an impact as his perfectly weighted pass put Howells in on goal to round the keeper, but saw his effort cleared off the line.
Howells didn’t rue the miss for long however, as Josh Harfoot picked up the ball down the left to produce a great cross for Howells to match with an equally great header into the top corner.
Penarth fired back and required the brilliant Bradley Young to clear off the line from two corners.
Penarth looked to apply the pressure but Saints soon countered. Steel laid the ball off to Reece Lewis who played the ball back through to Steel on the right flank, a low cross was met by Howells who turned in his second of the day to double the lead.
Howells almost had his hat trick as he was put clean in on goal but his shot was held by the keeper.
Saints didn’t have long to wait until their third, Reid popped the ball down the line and the impressive Steel took off like a rocket to outpace the defence, take the ball into the area from the right and finish expertly past the keeper at his near post.
Saints were full of confidence now and sprayed the ball around to show it. More good work from Steel saw his low cross see Harfoot and Copilescu have shots blocked before the keeper smothered the ball.
Finally, Howells grabbed his hat trick as the half was coming to an end. Steel again the catalyst as his defence splitting pass found Reece Lewis and his low cross was simply sublime for Howells to finish and make it four.
A tremendous half by Saints as they led 4-0 at the break.
Penarth came out with a nothing to lose attitude but found Saints defence resolute, led by today’s skipper Nicky Cox.
Saints looked to break on Penarth as and when but as the rain started to lash, couldn’t find a clear site on goal to extend their already comprehensive lead.
Penarth grabbed themselves a consolation as a free kick was palmed out by Garrison but the rebound turned in.
Saints manager Bill Laing looked to freshen up the side from the bench introducing Kieran Ashton, Leigh Lewis and Aaron Rogers into the fray.
It didn’t take long for the new introductions to have an impact as Rogers pin point pass put Leigh Lewis in the clear only to for the once youngest in the team stalwart to unselfishly roll the ball into the accompanying Ashton’s path, who finished the move with an easy finish.
Reece Lewis, Joe Laing and Harfoot marshalled proceedings from the middle of the park as the rain teemed down and the game wound down.
Saints secured their biggest league win of the season to end of a run of three straight league draws, to move back to second spot, a performance of grit, team spirt and fine flowing football.
St Athan: Garrision, Pugh, Young, Reid, Cox, Laing, R.Lewis, Steel, Harfoot, Howells, Copilescu. Subs – Ashton, L.Lewis, Rogers
Many thanks to our sponsors Llantwit Car Valet and Kinsale Stone Co (Wales) Ltd.