Barry 2 Newtown 0
Town earn deserved first victory
After a few near-misses in the opening weeks of the season, Saturday saw Barry Town United record their first victory since returning to the JD Welsh Premier League.
On another encouraging matchday at Jenner Park, summer signing Kayne McLaggon made the difference; the former Merthyr Town man scoring in either half of a 2-0 win over visitors Newtown.
One of Wales' oldest football clubs, the multi-time European campaigners have been among the few ever-presents in Wales' national league since its inception, over 25 years ago.
With the mid-Walians travelling to the Vale of Glamorgan off the back of back-to-back victories, the Robins posed another tough test for Gavin Chesterfield's team; though there was an air of optimism that the Town could turn their performances into three important points.
As it was, the home side would shoot out of the starting blocks; Troy Greening dispossessing Newtown's Jay Denny and allowing McLaggon to race clear and convert in the seventh minute, scoring his first-ever JD Welsh Premier League goal.
Sadly, the first half would be marred in the 35th minute by an injury to Barry's Ryan Newman.
Newman, who had scored Barry's first goal of the season against Aberystwyth in August, would require significant treatment on the touchline after being replaced by Callum Sainty.
The former Merthyr man was later reported to have suffered a broken ankle; with the loss of this tough-tackling midfielder a disappointing setback for both the club and player alike.
Coping admirably in the wake of this incident, Barry continued to contribute well, with another midfielder, full debutant Sam Jones, almost delivering the knockout second.
Breaking through at the end of the half, Jones was set on goal, only for the teenager to be brought down at the edge of the area, with defending Ryan Sears booked for the challenge.
However, McLaggon's resulting free-kick would reap no rewards, keeping the score at 1-0.
Into the second half, the introduction of substitute Ryan Kershaw coincided with fresh impetus for the visitors, though Newtown's pursuit of an equaliser would be largely limited to half-chances, as Barry goalkeeper Mike Lewis asserted his authority in the penalty box.
A clash of heads in the 58th minute brought a temporary halt to proceedings, before Jones made way for Drew Fahiya a handful of minutes later; Fahiya one of the Barry outfielders with past Welsh Premier experience, having previously competed with Port Talbot Town.
In the 71st minute, tenacious Tyrrell Webbe, who was thrilling supporters with his forward runs, would threatened the Newtown goal; only for his effort to crash into the side netting.
Soon, the hosts seemed destined to score their second; only for McLaggon's measured attempt from close range to be blocked on the line, in a spectacular piece of defending by Sears.
Nevertheless, McLaggon's persistence would be rewarded after 77 minutes; the Barry forward capitalising on a dangerous corner from the right, and the right amount of pressure on goalkeeper Dave Jones, to nod the ball across the line and into the Newtown net.
While their hometown hero will score prettier goals this season, McLaggon's second put priceless distance between Barry and their opponents, freeing the Town to pursue a third.
Eluding the offside trap, McLaggon almost got it himself, taking a sublime first touch before striking over the Robins' crossbar.
Then, substitute TJ Nagi showed off some of the skills that have made him such an important player for Barry in recent times; fending off Newtown defenders with smart footwork, only for his eventual attempt to run the wrong side of the post.
Ultimately, Barry were held to two; though few could complain about the final result, on a day Gavin Chesterfield's side reaffirmed they are not in the JD Welsh Premier League to merely make up the numbers.
With positive play across the park, including another Man of the Match appearance for centre-back Luke Cooper, the Town will now hope to build on this result, as they head north to early season pacesetters Llandudno this coming Saturday (2.30pm kick-off).
The match at the Giants Hospitality Stadium will be the first meeting of the clubs since December 1994, when the North Wales outfit knocked holders Barry out of the Welsh Cup in a fourth round replay; securing a subsequent clash with Cardiff City.