Two of the early season form teams went toe to toe at Cwrt-yr-Ala as the Bulldogs travelled to the capital to play Caerau Ely in this Welsh League Division One encounter; though in truth only one of the sides lived up to the billing with the hosts coasting to victory during a traumatic afternoon for Ton Pentre.
Ton Pentre made three changes to the team that were held by Penybont eight days earlier, with Dafydd Brewer, Adam Raymond and Jaymie Wearn replacing Thomas Davies, Liam Hutchinson and Dan Richards through the spine of the team.
With just 3 minutes on the clock, all seemed well for the Bulldogs as Shane Davies added to his repertoire of spectacular early season goals when he fired the visitors ahead with a stupendous strike from 25 yards. Davies hit a Caerau Ely clearance clean with a right footed volley first time and the keeper had no chance as the ball punctured the net.
Though the early goal buoyed the Bulldogs, it was the hosts who were on the front foot. Caerau Ely forced a succession of corners and their physicality and height advantage caused the Ton defence significant discomfort when balls were placed into the mixer – this was to be a feature of the afternoon for a beleaguered Ton Pentre rearguard.
Despite being under the cosh, Ton nearly extended the lead on 10 minutes when a clever through ball released Jenkins, but the keeper bravely grasped the loose ball from the feet of the advancing striker. Shane Davies nearly struck again on 13 when his dipping corner kick nearly went directly into the goal but for a clearing header on the goal line from an alert Caerau defender.
Caerau Ely equalised on 15 minutes when the Bulldogs were undone down the right flank, from which their striker glanced the ball home from a free header. Within minutes the hosts nearly edged in front but on this occasion the striker pulled his shot narrowly wide following a neat interchange on the edge of the box; another free header swiftly followed but thankfully for the Bulldogs the opportunity narrowly cleared the crossbar.
The home side finally broke the Ton resistance with another headed effort, on this occasion directly from a corner on 24 minutes with the Bulldogs too static in defending the set piece. Caerau were now oozing confidence and on 34 minutes, Raymond was caught napping in possession and the Caerau No 9 scampered clear of the Ton defence to latch on to a slide rule through ball and slotted home beyond a hapless Neil Collins.
Even though clearly second best, Ton nearly halved the deficit on 41 when a low Davies shot squirmed narrowly wide of the target following a minor deflection from a defender. Alas Ton’s revival was checked once again 3 minutes later when Caerau scored their 3rd headed goal of the half when they effectively sealed the win when an advancing midfielder connected to a long ball with a looped header over Collins. This ended a miserable half of football for Ton Pentre and the mountain left to climb in the second half was surely insurmountable.
Caerau Ely dominated the early stages of the second half and had a number of good openings to extend their lead. It was rather inevitable when the Ton defence got caught flat footed as the Caerau strike partnership combined to make it 5-1 on the hour. Less than a minute later the half dozen was notched up when Crutch was penalised for a foul in the box – the striker made no mistake from the spot as he fired down the middle of the goal.
On 74 minutes the pain continued for the Bulldogs as the seventh goal was slotted home as Caerau reacted quicker when Collins spilled a free kick, with the rebound being converted with ease. Crutch pulled a goal back when he converted for the Bulldogs with a bullet header from a corner on 77 minutes.
The Bulldogs catastrophe in Cardiff was completed on the 90th minute when a miscued clearance by Crutch landed in the path of Caerau Ely striker who had the simplest of tasks to square to his teammate who placed the ball into the empty net to complete a staggering 8-2 scoreline on the day.
This is Ton Pentre’s heaviest defeat for some time and all associated with the Club will be looking for a positive reaction when Pontardawe Town visit Ynys Park next Saturday (27 September, kick off 2:30pm), when wounded pride will hopefully be repaired.