Bangor 0 Barry 1
Late McLaggon goal stuns the Citizens
Barry Town United recorded a sensational result in North Wales at the weekend, beating Bangor City by a single goal at Nantporth to climb to seventh in the JD Welsh Premier League.
Manager Gavin Chesterfield commented that Saturday’s win was his best ever result as Barry boss, as his team recorded their first win on the road this season; and the Town’s first away win in the WPL since April 2003.
Bangor City, who competed in Europe this summer, had decimated champions The New Saints by five goals to two on the opening night of the new season and took a 100% home record into Saturday afternoon’s fixture.
Opponents Barry meanwhile brought one of the division’s strongest defensive records; and their strong work ethic and organisation would serve them well against a Citizens side that started the day on top of the table.
With the defence of Paul Morgan, Luke Cooper, Curtis Watkins and Chris Hugh providing an effective shield for goalkeeper Mike Lewis, both the former Blackpool forward Gary Taylor-Fletcher and dangerman Brayden Shaw would be restricted to long-range efforts, as the Town found their first-half feet.
Meanwhile, at the opposite end, there were encouraging signs for the travelling Barry supporters, as their side amassed a host of corners and Citizens goalkeeper Connor Roberts was forced to save low at his near post from Kayne McLaggon’s shot; the Town’s leading goalscorer threatened to add to his tally after cutting inside.
With 28 minutes played, Shaw hit a testing effort from outside the area, but Lewis did well to save and Dean Rittenburg was ruled offside for the rebound; his close-range shot rebounding off the post in vain.
Then, in the 36th minute, came a significant talking point, as a right-footed cross from Bangor’s Danny Holmes’ cross struck the arm of Barry midfielder Macauley Southam, inside the Town’s own penalty area.
It seemed as if a penalty would be awarded; yet after consulting his linesman at the near touchline, the referee would give Bangor a free-kick outside the Barry box instead; and it would harmlessly curl over Lewis’ crossbar.
With the hosts looking to preserve their position as JD Welsh Premier League leaders, the second half began with a bang, as Bangor put the ball in the Barry net, only two minutes after the restart.
Once again though, ex-Blackburn Rovers forward Rittenberg would be caught offside and with it, his close-range diversion of Laurence Wilson’s misfire was chalked off, keeping the scoreline scoreless.
With Lewis enjoying a Man of the Match performance between the sticks, the Barry goalkeeper would save efforts from Ritternburg, Taylor-Fletcher and midfielder Damien Allen during the second period, while his teammates put in a real shift to contain a talented Bangor team, while attempting to hit on the counter.
In the 66th minute, manager Chesterfield handed a Welsh Premier League debut to development squad captain and Wales youth international Michael George; the Barry youngster replacing forward Drew Fahiya.
Then, with the clock ticking, Chesterfield threw Louis Gerrard into the mix; and the midfielder, who had impressed in his cameo at Llandudno weeks earlier, would play a crucial role before the match was through.
With 82 minutes played, Bangor winger Luke Wall hit a left-footed strike that bounced before Lewis, leaving former Manchester United starlet and Wales international Daniel Nardiello to pounce at close quarters.
Nardiello’s tap-in though would chalked off; another offside for a Bangor team unable to turn their efforts into goals, before the resulting free-kick from the Barry goalkeeper set up the game’s dramatic, decisive moment.
Firing the ball upfield, Lewis’ clearance flew inches above McLaggon, only to be expertly controlled by Gerrard.
The midfielder would quickly draw the attention to two opponents, but this left space for the prolific striker McLaggon in the centre; and Gerrard showed vision to find and free his free-scoring teammate to fire home.
A right-footed finish from inside the D, McLaggon’s sharp strike sent the Barry players into wild celebration; with similar delirium in the smaller stand, where a number of the Town’s travelling supporters had gathered.
After soaking up numerous periods of Bangor pressure, Barry appeared to have struck at the ideal time; yet the match was by no means over, as the Citizens brought on two late substitutes in pursuit of the equaliser.
One of them, Sion Edwards, almost made the difference; his inquisitive ball from the left tipped onwards by Lewis but falling into the path of Bangor’s own Wall, who jigged for position on the edge of the six-yard box.
However, Wall’s shot would be crucially headed off the line by Luke Cooper, keeping Barry’s advantage intact.
Finally, as the sides contested four minutes of stoppage time, the Town tried to hit Bangor on the break, as final substitute Sam Jones set up George for a shot at debut glory, but his strike would run wide of the goal.
Nevertheless, there were scenes of jubilation at the final whistle, as Barry completed their hard-fought victory.
A memorable occasion on their inaugural visit to the modern Nantporth stadium, Saturday’s result was Barry’s first win in Bangor since April 2001 and, remarkably, their first clean sheet in the city since October 1998.
This Saturday, Barry are back on the road with a trip to Aberystwyth Town. Kick-off at Park Avenue is at 2.30pm, with supporters encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for travel information.