Welsh League Division One - Risca United 1 Monmouth Town 3
TWO goals from Craig Lewis, including a spectacular strike from 20 yards out, saw Monmouth Town record a vital 3-1 victory at relegation rivals Risca United.
The visitors knew a win at Ystrad Mynach would be key for their survival chances, and came into the clash five points ahead of their hosts having played two more games.
Both sides had struggled of late, with Monmouth only ending their poor run of form the week when they beat Gwent rivals Caldicot Town. The Cuckoos had also suffered poor form going into the game having only won one game in their last 10.
On an artificial pitch, and facing chilly conditions under the lights, the home side started the game the brighter and dominated possession early on, playing out from the back well and causing Monmouth several problems with their midfield combinations and rotations.
The game’s early chances went to Risca, as first their winger’s shot went just over the woodwork.
Monmouth’s first chance of the game came when Brad Flay floated a corner into the box which found Luke Cleaves at the front post who headed just over the bar.
Risca went straight up the other end and nearly took the lead themselves when their player whipped a corner in which found his centre back at the back post who headed just wide of the post.
Despite the visitors adapting to Risca’s game plan the home side still dominated possession and frustrated Monmouth with their passing styled play.
They should have taken the lead after 30 minutes when Dan Spence lost the ball just inside his team’s half and Risca’s midfielder played the ball out to his winger who beat his man and ran down the by line before squaring it to his teammate on the penalty spot.
He shot first time, but luckily for Monmouth Mitchell Palmer was there to heroically block it off the line.
But despite the home side’s early dominance it was the Kingfishers who broke the deadlock against the run of play.
Brad Flay floated a corner into the box which found Dan Spence who headed down and Craig Lewis was there to tap it in.
With half time approaching Monmouth doubled their lead.
A long ball up the pitch was flicked on by Sam Palmer towards Craig Lewis who, from around 20 yards, hit a fine volley which flew into the top corner to give the visitors some breathing room going into the break.
Risca needed a goal to stay in the game and got one almost immediately at the start of the second half.
They caught Monmouth’s back four asleep and their winger passed the ball across to his teammate on the edge of the box who calmly placed his shot into the bottom corner.
Instead of dropping back the Kingfishers reacted well and started to press Risca high up the pitch and prevented them from playing out from the back and forced them to play long.
Their pressing paid off on the hour mark when Craig Lewis forced the Cuckoos keeper into passing the ball out to his teammate. Kazeem Kareem intercepted and went one on one with Risca’s keeper and calmly slotted it into the top corner to restore Monmouth’s two-goal lead.
Risca continued to attack at Monmouth with great intensity in the latter stages of the game and were desperately throwing everything they had at Monmouth’s defence.
With the home side attacking they were vulnerable on the counter attack and Craig Lewis had a great chance to score his hat-trick when Ash Ford played a ball over the defence, which Lewis ran on to, went one on one with the keeper but Lewis’ shot went way over the bar.
Describing the win as “adequate” and “pleasing,” Monmouth Town manager Ross Kennedy said: “I thought the first half we were shocking and were lucky to be ahead. I thought we played much better in the second half and looked much more solid at the back and deserved our win.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the result. Risca are a good passing team and I feel we dealt with their possession styled football well.”
Monmouth are home next Saturday to local rivals Goytre in another huge game as they look to survive the drop.