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April 9th: Ton Pentre 2 v Bewtts 1

The Rhondda Bulldogs may have virtually no chance of winning the league title this season but they still have to play the main contenders in the race. And as the match against championship hopefuls Bettws shows, Ton Pentre can still have a hand in where the destiny of the title lies.

Although Ton Pentre started positively and came close when Carl Thomas had a pop at goal, poor defensive play by the home side on the right allowed Dai Jones to run in at an angle towards Jon Howe in the Ton goals. The Bulldog's 'keeper confidently saved the Bettws players shot with the defence mopping up the loose ball.

With 20 minutes of play passed Ton seemed to be loosing their way slightly and were punished with a goal. Andrew Sebburn scored by heading the ball past Howe after a nice cross from the left had the correct amount of angle to take out the Ton defence.

A minute later Ton were forced to make a substitution as Alex Lawless replaced Ian Davies. Lawless took his position in midfield with Neil Davies dropping back into defence.

Lawless added zest to the Ton team and was included in a movement with Alyn Jones and Thomas when the three played good football going forward pressurizing the Bettws defence. They won a corner but were unable to score.

Ton captain Andrew Hughes played a wonderful long ball goalwards to Lawless who was clear, but the presence of Mark Stonehouse in goal was just enough to put the player off. With the Rhondda Bulldogs 1-0 down at half-time an inspired talk from manager Kevin Richards was needed to lift the performance. And whatever he said seemed to do the job.

Two minutes after the restart Sebburn fouled Hughes a few yards outside the Bettws box. The ball was played through into Thomas whose run in the box was unchallenged by any Bettws defenders, and they paid dearly for it with the striker tapping in the equalizer and his 23rd goal of the season.

Moments later in the 50th minute Ton took the lead, as Bettws were being totally outclassed. The Ton midfield sent the ball over the top of the defence where Mark Evans was ruled to be onside to have a clear run at goal. A lovely strike made the score 2-1. Bettws players and supporters contested but the referees' decision was final. Richard Ready found a gap in the Ton defence soon after but Howe dealt with the players shot comfortably.

From this Ton were in a full-fledged attack once again with Thomas chipping the ball forward to Evans. This time Stonehouse saved his strike.

Thomas capitalised on poor defending in the 71st minute creating a chance for him to strike towards goal. His shot took an unfortunate deflection that sent it inches wide of the goalpost and out for a corner. From the corner Thomas came close again. This time his header shaved the cross bar.

Even though Ton were comfortable for the whole of the second half, Bettws had a chance to level eight minutes from time but Dean Simons hit the post and the Rhondda Bulldogs, sponsored by Futureglaze Windows, played out the remaining minutes with no incident.

This excellent 2-1 result will upset Bettws' championship aspirations, but they will look for revenge when the teams play each other again on Wednesday 16 April at Bettws Park with the match kicking off at 6.00pm.

First though, Ton play home again on Saturday 12 April against Goytre United with the kick off at Ynys Park at 3.00pm.

Ton Pentre: Jon Howe; Mark Evans; Jason Roberts; Ian Davies (Alex Lawless, 21mins); Nathan Prygodzicz; Dean Morris; Neil Davies; Andrew Hughes; Carl Thomas; Alyn Jones; Ceri Harding. Substitutions not used: Lee Tapper & Mike Jones.

Match report by Rob Dowling.

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