Finding the reason behind Port Talbot’s decline from the league’s September pace-setters to October’s out-of-formers is difficult to explain.
There have been unfortunate injuries to players such as Bowen and McCreesh which has not helped matters, thoughMcCreesh returned in this one and will be a boost for Andy Dyer in the coming matches. However, the bottom line is that the club’s the defending needs to improve.
Nick Rushton scored two minutes into play at the Genquip, slotting the ball past Cann from close range. Port Talbot’s response was a good one but a goalmouth scramble and flurry of shots couldn’t yield the goal needed. Then came the sucker punch from Callum Morris’s strike that the linesman had adjudged to be offside, only for the referee to add insult to injury by overruling his counterpart.
Play was halted momentarily due to Joseph Jones suffering an injury and gingerly exiting the field. The game resumed for George Horan to see his effort from the edge of the area cannon off the woodwork. The follow up was saved by Cann. Any Ulrika moment was lacking for Port Talbot and a pre half-time free kick was passed by Loveridge to Hood, who shot wide.
A Kurtis March close range shot that was saved by Danby was a more positive show from the Steelmen.
Now the Victoria Road outfit started to probe more effectively and Hood lofted a free kick into the penalty area but again it came to nothing. You just feel that Belle’s presence as a foil for Rose is missing for Port Talbot in the final third.
Hood took to the floor on 66 minutes and thought he had been fouled, though his protests were waved away. Not resting on their laurels, Leslie Davies pushed forward for the Nomads and came inside before shooting wide from range.
Things got worse for Port Talbot after Ashley Ruane went through on goal and was upended by Cann. The Port Talbot stopper was duly granted the red card and a penalty, awarded.
Hood donned the goalkeeper’s gloves but could only watch as Ruane slotted into the corner. The forward doubled his tally when put through one on one with Hood and prodding past the advancing makeshift stopper.
Social media was awash with calls for temporary boss, Jay Catton, to get the permanent job for Connah’s Quay’s and he has certainly capitalised on their midweek cup win.
I believe Port Talbot will come good and benefit from James Loveridge playing another match and establishing a familiarity with the way the team play. Another bad day for the Steelmen leaves them teetering outside the top six in eighth and desperate for November to come.
Port Talbot XI: Steve Cann; Joseph Jones, James Parry, Paul Fowler, Kieran Williams; Joe Clarke, Kurtis March, Liam McCreesh, Jonathan Hood; James Loveridge, Martin Rose.
Connah’s Quay: John Danby; Paul Linwood, George Horan, Danny Harrison, Sean Miller; Callum Morris, Leslie Davies, Nick Rushton, Jack Riley; Sean Smith, Wes Baynes.