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A HUGE cheer from the changing rooms some five minutes after play finished on Saturday told it all.
23 months after the club was almost killed off in a staggering act of malice, Barry Town United had returned back to the division it had been thrown out of. And if anything, the team that earned the promotion Saturday was virtually identical to that which had its record expunged in 2013: it's also a stronger, more determined and focused club and team now. Rarely has such triumph, formed out of the worst sort of football adversity, been more deserved.
To all the players, the supporters who have stuck with the team during some dark times and the management team led so ably by Gavin Chesterfield, a huge pat on the back for a job performed in excellent fashion. And how different is the atmosphere two years on. More will no doubt be written on the season later but first to last week’s action.
Tuesday night saw Town having to show its battling qualities to the full and grind out a point at home to visitors Cwmbran Celtic. The Celts are a good side and the envisaged hard game was made ten times more difficult when Bob Briers was astonishingly sent off after 21 minutes for a handball. Loathe as we are to criticise a referee’s decisions, but this would undoubtedly have been reviewed in the defender’s favour had multi TV cameras been present.
It was the talking point of a match killed as a spectacle by a poor decision, and remained a source of upset for days to come. So onto Saturday and with four points for the title needed unless Caldicot slipped up, a win was a priority against visitors Penrhiweiber Rangers who’d given Barry a tough game in February.
Rangers came to play and made life very awkward at times in a fast and open game marked by an exciting opening spell which saw TJ Nagi open the scoring after three minutes. After 10 minutes Rangers equalised and with the game resembling a cup match with end to end play, Barry regained the lead after 16 minutes.
Jamie Bradford’s out-swinging corner was met by the unmarked Ryan Evans who nodded home to make it 2-1 to Barry and despite a few missed chances, that’s how the teams went in at the interval.
The teams exchanged metaphorical blows in the second period, then just after the hour, Rob Blatchford drifted into the middle of the pitch from the left. The big winger looked up and thundered the ball past the startled keeper to give Barry a 3-1 lead. When Blatchford gets his shooting right, this is often the result. A super strike to cheer the fans up, fans who still had no idea of how events were developing with Caldicot .
Back came Rangers with Dan Bradley pushing away a good effort from Rangers’ Alex Jones and with the visitors continuing to press it came as no surprise when a nervy Barry defence conceded a second after 65 minutes, Mitchell Royce heading home from close range after several snatched efforts to clear the ball from the six yard box failed.
Rangers fancied their chance of an equaliser but Barry returned to the front foot and secured the all important win with two more goals. On 70 minutes Dale Howarth drilled home to make it 4-2 and when the otherwise excellent Gavin Keeping in the Rangers goal missed a punch to clear the ball from a Bradford corner, TJ Nagi scored his second and Barry’s final goal to complete a 5-2 win and to win the title in fine style.
This was revenge and justice against the club’s detractors, not served cold but in red hot fashion and Town will now look forward to its future hardened by its experience, and more than ready for new challenges. Three games are left to play, two at home so why not try and get down to Jenner Park before the end of the season. On Saturday, Barry finishes its away games with a trip to Croesyceiliog, then AFC Llwydcoed visit Jenner on Tuesday April 14 before signing off for the season at home to Llanwern on April 25.
Barry Town United – Bradley, Frowen, Morgan, Cosslett, Evans, Saddler, Blatchford (Dixon), Bradford, Nagi, Greening (Hutson), Howarth Subs (unused) Baldock, James, Billing