Kingfishers draw comfort after holding the leaders

Wednesday 27th April 2022 4:00 pm
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Monmouth Kingfishers
(Stuart Townsend/ Barcud Coch Photography )

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The Kingfishers shared the points in two 2-2 draws last week against top and bottom of the league, the latter a 10-man comeback effort after trailing 2-0 at half-time.

First up on Tuesday night (April 19) at Blestium Stadium they hosted derby rivals and frontrunners Abergavenny Town in a pulsating encounter that saw them twice take the lead.

The game sparked into life in front of a sizeable crowd when Kingfishers captain Ashley Ford headed an 11th-minute free-kick back across the goalmouth for former Hereford United player Nick Harrhy to fire home from close range.

The Pennies fought back on level terms when former Kingfisher Dan MacDonald’s 27th-minute far-post corner was played back into the danger area by Curtis Methven for Drew Heffernan to head past Monmouth Town custodian Travis Wood from close range.

But the Kingfishers regained the lead six minutes before the break when Harrhy scored his second of the match with another close-range finish.

Monmouth Kingfishers
(Stuart Townsend/ Barcud Coch Photography ) (Stuart Townsend/ Barcud Coch Photography)

Aber upped the ante after the interval, creating several chances although Monmouth looked dangerous on the break.

And with the gloom descending with 14 minutes left, MacDonald was on hand to convert a cross past Wood to level things up.

Both sides pressed for the winner, but the draw prolonged the title race for a few days more, with Aber potentially still needing a point if their nearest rivals win their remaining games.

On Saturday (April 23), sixth-placed Kingfishers made the long journey to already relegated Rhayader, and with nothing to play for now, it allowed Monmouth boss Scott Russell to swap and change the team around.

With a goalkeeping crisis at the club with all four ruled out for the rest of the season it was left to young midfielder Matt Jones to take his turn in goal.

On a typical end of season hard, bobbly and dusty dry pitch, it proved hard to play football, with direct long balls the only way to deal with the conditions.

On 16 minutes a corner swung in by Rhayader saw the ball bobble along the six-yard box for what looked like an own goal by Josh Maksimovic, but which was awarded to Ryan Addison.

Things got worse for the away team after top scorer Lyndon Jones recieved a straight red card in the 41st minute for a challenge on the Rhayader full back who was clearing the ball, to the shock of his teammates and coaching staff who were all adamant it was a yellow at best.

Jones reacted after he seemed to be blatantly pulled back whilst on the attack, with the referee happy to wave play on.

And just on the stroke of half-time a long ball over the top seemed to be well managed by the Monmouth back line, only to see the assistant keep his flag down on Rhayader’s No 9 Jordan McFadden who was left free to chip the advancing Jones to make it 2-0 at the break.

Manager Russell was then sent off for two yellow cards after engagement with the referee.

But after the restart the Kingfishers came into the game and looked like they had the extra man, resulting in a goal from winger Iwan Mooney to cut the deficit in half.

Then local youngsters Jake Parella (19), Aaron Oakley (17) and Lewis Hull (16) were brought on, all three giving energy to the team for the final 20 minutes.

And with 15 minutes to play, Josh Maksimovic was pulled back in the area and it was player chairman Rob Laurie who stepped up to take the penalty to make it 2-2.

Sam Williams (20) then joined the fray as the visitors looked for the winner, before Rhayader recieved a straight red when defender James Thompson grabbed and pushed Oakley to the ground.

But Monmouth couldn’t find the third goal their second half performance deserved.

Russell said: “It was really great to see four young lads come off the bench for the first team and Callum Uttley at 17 starting.

“They all did brilliantly and we will look to keep them involved for our final couple of games.

“Sadly the referee ruined a good game. I don’t think either player deserved to get sent off and I was shown two yellows for wanting to ask one simple question at half-time, the same referee who said he’s approachable before the game only to then become someone completely different from that.

“The less said the better, but as manager I have responsiblity to do better and will do next time.”

Monmouth were due to host fourth-placed Caldicot Town last night (Tuesday, April 26) before travelling to Aberbargoed Buds next Tuesday (May 3).

Meanwhile, it was derby day delight for Chepstow Town as they sank Caldicot’s own title hopes in midweek with a 3-1 home win, goals from Dan Whitehouse, Ashton Ajibola-Gleed and Ryan Scrivens cancelling out Ben Smith’s eighth-minute opener.

But Saturday saw a 3-0 reverse for the Jockeys at high-flying Abertillery Bluebirds which left them ninth before last night’s home match with Croesyceiliog followed by Tredegar again at home on Saturday.

* Monmouth’s Rockfield Rovers finished their season with a 2-0 away win on Saturday over East Gwent Division One basement boys Severn Tunnel, to finish fifth.

Undy Athletic 3rds completed their programme with a 3-1 home win over Sudbrook CC to place sixth, while Division 2 champions Underwood enjoyed a 3-0 win away to Thornwell R&W 2nds.

Two goals from Curtis Hodges and one from Dan Hudson also secured a 3-2 JO Roberts Cup win for Redbrook Rovers at home to Ellwood.

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