For the neutral observer this was the game to be at as play surged from one end to the other in a breathless series of extravagant attacks. Neither defence covered themselves with glory, though both had their moments, and a couple of the goals were so sensational they would have been repeated again and again if the match had been televised. The match was an interesting confrontation for six of the Aberaman squad as all had played for Taff’s Well in recent seasons and their manager, David Gough, is remembered with great respect for his excellent coaching during his time on the staff at Taff’s Well. However there is always the immutable rule of the ex-player to take into consideration, they have a habit of coming back to hurt their old team. Taff’s Well needed to be wary. As the match opened, play switched from one goal mouth to the other with incredible regularity but first blood went to Taff’s Well in the seventh minute when Jamal Roberts headed in a right wing cross much to the delight of the home crowd (1-0). Roberts confounded most observers with his heading in the match, not something he is renowned for, and he went on to give a man-of-the-match performance using his undoubted pace to trouble Aberaman’s defenders as long as he was on the pitch. Taff’s Well captain, Liam Williams, tried his luck with a long-range shot that flew just wide and then Aberaman’s Sol Taylor, a handful throughout, went on a dangerous run from deep but he too watched as his shot went wide (11 minutes). An Aberaman long throw from former Taff’s Well playmaker, Lloyd Toghill was headed clear but only as far as Liam Beattie who volleyed the ball back high and wide of Rory McCreesh’s goal. Aaron Colwill and Jamal Easter combined in a sweeping length of the field move to set up Jamal Roberts for his second goal, a tap in on the far post (2-0, 16 minutes). Aberaman were not to be kept out of the match for long, however, and another Lloyd Toghill long throw caused the Taff’s Well defence problems forcing Rory McCreesh into an excellent save but Aberaman were not to be denied for long and almost immediately, ex-Millwall player, Greg Palmer fired home having been picked out by an outstanding cross caused chaos in the home defence (2-1, 18 minutes). Sol Taylor then fired over at the far post after a right wing attack from Aberaman stretched Taff’s Well’s defence. Taff’s Well then put pressure on at the other end and Matt James produced a good header that was eventually cleared for a throw but the home side kept up the pressure to force another dangerous corner that was cleared with Aberaman’s defence almost at breaking point (25 minutes). The pressure was sustained and a pass back to Griffiths in the Aber goal was chased down by a home player forcing the keeper to kick the ball out for a throw following which Lewis Hydes beat the covering Dominic Dwyer, another former Taff’s Well player, and crossed but Griffiths saved bravely. Play switched to the other end and former Cardiff City Junior, Sol Taylor, equalised when the ball was switched to him arriving late on the far post from where he fired home ( 2-2, 31 minutes). Jason Welsh then played Jamal Roberts through but Dominic Dwyer made an important block to retrieve the situation. Lloyd Toghill then capitalised on a Matt James clearing header by shooting from 25 yards out but the ball pinged off the top of the bar to safety for Taff’s Well much to Rory McCreesh’s relief. The crowd were not forced to wait long for something spectacular to happen in the second half as Aberaman took the lead from their first attack when Sol Taylor followed up a good save from McCreesh to fire into the net (2-3, 46 minutes).
The home side may have been stunned and the home spectators might have choked on the dregs of the half time tea but Taff’s Well responded immediately: surging up-field from the kick off Taff’s Well forced a corner and equalised when Chris Hugh swivelled on the ball to drill it home past Griffiths for an immediate equaliser (3-3, 47 minutes). In conformity with the pattern of the game, Aberaman immediately attacked and forced a corner of their own but the effort was headed over the bar. There followed a period of end-to-end play with no final product as the game swung one way then the other. It was time to take decisive action so Taff’s Well manager replaced Aaron Colwill with Haydn Fleming from the bench (62 minutes). It was an inspired change as Jamal Easter and the excellent Jason Welsh combined to set up the onrushing Jamal Roberts whose pace was too much for the visiting defence; he hit his shot fiercely but Ryan Griffiths reacted well to kick the shot away, however, Fleming had used his awareness and pace to follow-up and score with a deft side-foot past the sprawling Griffiths from the edge of the penalty area (4-3, 65 minutes). Taff’s Well reorganised with Darren Robinson moving into defence from midfield, Chris Hugh going to left back and Lewis Hydes advancing to left wing. It made no difference to Sam Small who promptly scored an amazing goal volleying a bouncing ball with incredible velocity past McCreesh from all of 35 yards (4-4, 70 minutes). Aberaman then replaced Adam Lewis with Mark Greedy to re-energise their midfield though all of those present expected further goals in such an exciting game, it was uncertain who was going to score. Taff’s Well took the initiative whist Greedy settled into the game. Haydn Fleming, Jamal Easter and Liam Williams got Taff’s Well going with a flowing move and Lewis Hydes got on the ball before he and Jason Welsh forced Griffiths into conceding a corner that was cleared (72 minutes). Taff’s Well kept up the pressure and Jamal Roberts and Haydn Fleming combined well before the ball went wide to Jamal Easter who fired the ball into the net with both power and precision (5-4, 74 minutes). A minute later, Jason Welsh converted a spectacular diving header from a powerfully drilled cross but was desperately disappointed to be flagged for offside being convinced he was not. The chances kept coming. Darren Robinson blocked Taylor brilliantly with McCreesh making an excellent follow-up save; Sam Small fired over from an offside position. Steve Edwards replaced Jamal Easter and was perhaps too soon off the bench when the ball fell to him and he almost passed his shot into Griffiths' midriff. Liam Beattie then shot wide following an Aberaman break. Steve Edwards then ran through but could not beat Griffiths with his shot on 89 minutes. There was still enough time for Jamal Roberts to confirm his man-of-the-match status when he headed clear with an impressive leap from yet another Lloyd Toghill long throw on 90 minutes.
Such an entertaining game ended with Taff’s Well victorious but Aberaman left the field with great credit as Solomon Taylor and Liam Beattie proved a handful for Taff’s Well defenders throughout and Jamal Easter, Lewis Hydes and Jamal Roberts did likewise the other way. The ex-Taff’s Well players will be disappointed by the defeat but they played their full part in a thrilling encounter and credit must be given to referee, Ian Holyoake, whose sympathetic handling of the game allowed the football to flourish.
Taff’s Well:1. McCreesh; 2. Biggs; 3. Hydes; 4. Hugh; 5. James; 6. Robinson; 7. Williams (Capt.); 8. Colwill; 9. Welsh; 10. Roberts; 11. Easter; subs. 12. Green; 14. Wheeler; 15. Edwards; 16. Fleming; 17. Howe (GK).
Aberaman: 1. Griffiths; 2. Richards (Capt.); 3. Rudman; 4. Dwyer; 5. Jenkins; 6. Lewis; 7. Toghill; 8. Taylor; 9. Beattie; 10. Small; 11. Palmer; subs. 12. Greedy; 14. Cooper; 16. Watkins; 17. Davies