St Athan 1-1 FC Barry Belgrade
Ten man Saints battle to a share of the points in tantalising encounter. Centre half colossus Nicky Cox put Saints in front before Belgrade pulled level after the home side were reduced to ten men.
A tentative opening saw chances at a premium, Belgrade thought they had the lead with the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled offside.
Saints had a penalty appeal turned down as Craig Howells was bundled over in the box.
Saints saw the best chance of the half come their way as Tony Pugh’s fine cross was flapped at by the keeper, dropping to Jordan Mortimore who only found the side netting.
But finally the break through right on the stroke of half time, Reece Lewis’ corner dropped invitingly to Cox eighteen yards out and he caressed the ball over the defence and keeper to see it nestle into the net.
Saints went in leading after an extremely cagey half of football.
Both sides knew the importance of the result with the league so very tight, only a few points separate the seven sides.
The second period started like the first, neither team wanting to give much away with chances few and far between. Then the turning point.
A big fifty fifty challenge between Mortimore and the Belgrade defender resulting in the referee showing the Saints tailsman a red card to the bemusement of all involved, including the away side.
With their leader dismissed Saints were rattled and Belgrade took full advantage. Ten minutes later an exquisite cross from the right was headed in to bring the scores level. To add injury to insult, Cox them hobbled off with a reoccurrence of an injury.
Belgrade could smell blood but Saints rallied and regrouped. Changes were made by the home side and Saints got themselves back into the game.
St Athan saw efforts by the excellent Howells and then Brad Young blocked before Tony Pugh fired over from distance.
Belgrade came again trying to make their numerical advantage count but there was only one word to describe St Athan, defiant. Saints put their bodies on the line as keeper James Andrews made a double sage before Deon Garrison threw himself in front of shot to block then Young also made a fine tackle to deny Belgrade.
Moments later it was Andrews again who denied the away side with another great double save.
Then with seconds remaining Saints had a huge chance to win it, a pin point cross from the right saw Aaron Rogers rise to head narrowly and agonisingly wide at the near post.
A draw was a fair result in an even and entertaining contest between two good sides. Notable performances from Craig Howells, Jake Sutch, Nicky Cox, Tony Pugh and Bradley Young with James Andrews again performing well between the sticks.
Saints now sit four points off leaders Barry Athletic who lost 2-1 to Rhoose with a game in hand. However, two points separate second and sixth.
St Athan: Andrews, Pugh, Sutch, Young, Cox, Laing, R.Lewis, Garrision, Steel, Howells, Mortimore. Subs – Ashton, Morgan, Rogers, Lucas, L.Lewis.
Many thanks to our sponsors Llantwit Car Valet and Kinsale Stone Co (Wales) Ltd.