Barry Town United’s title aspirations took a sizeable hit at the weekend, as the Welsh League Division One leaders succumbed to a 2-1 loss to championship rivals Goytre.
The defeat was the Town’s first at home all season in the league and effectively threw the race for honours wide open; with a mere three points now separating the top four sides.
Billed as a top-of-the-table encounter, second-placed Goytre had actually been displaced on Friday evening by a resurgent Haverfordwest County, who chalked up a valuable 2-1 at Afan Lido.
Nevertheless, by the end of play on Saturday, the men from Plough Road had reclaimed their position and are now breathing down the necks of a Barry squad who head the table by a single point.
Barry started their 19th match of the campaign on the front foot, taking the lead after only two minutes through a Callum Sainty header; Sainty claiming his first goal of the season and his third for the Town in total.
The Nathaniel MG Cup finalists then almost added a second goal within moments, when forward Drew Fahiya’s chip sailed narrowly over the crossbar, suggesting a festival of goals might well be in store.
However, despite enjoying considerable territory and possession, Barry were unable to turn their dominance into further names on the scoresheet; and were left to pay the price against the league’s leading strikeforce.
While the Town had entered the game boasting the tightest defence in the division, the Jenner Park outfit have been prone to conceding the odd penalty and in spite howls of protest from the crowd of 211, Goytre soon found themselves back on equal terms, with Sam O’ Sullivan converting from the spot.
Then, another set piece allowed Gary Coulbourne to put the visitors in the driver’s seat, handing the Town an uphill battle heading into second half, though the scores might have been level had Curtis Watkins been awarded a spot kick at the other end or teammate Drew Fahiya capitalised on Chris Hugh’s promising ball.
The second period maintained the theme established in the first, with striker TJ Nagi both firing over the crossbar and hitting the side netting. With teammate James Dixon two games from a return, Barry’s failure to break down the visiting defence will have frustrated the home crowd, though few could find fault with their endeavour or the calibre of chances created, against a Goytre side that worked hard to hold on to their lead.
With Town goalkeeper Mike Lewis would effectively snuff out any attempts to hit his team on the break, Goytre would see the match out, becoming the first team to achieve a double over Barry in three seasons.
This Saturday afternoon, Barry will attempt to get their push for silverware back on course, when they travel to Port Talbot Town in a 2pm kick-off. The match will be the first meeting of the sides at Victoria Road since an entertaining 2-2 draw in 2003-04, a match held when both occupied a place in the Welsh Premier League.
Having forged strong links with Port Talbot’s fervent fanbase, Barry supporters are encouraged to visit BarryTownUnited.com for the build-up to Saturday’s match, which promises to be a highlight of the season.
Updated 09:53 - 9 Mar 2017 by Ashley Cox