14 Oct 2018 in News
Gresford Athletic 2 - 1 Prestatyn Town
It took two late wonder-saves to deny Neil Gibson a win in his first game back as Prestatyn boss on Saturday. His side fell to a 2 - 1 defeat away at in-form Gresford Athletic, however a stunning second half display will have given the travelling Seasiders fans renewed optimism going forward.
With captain Alex Jones serving a one match ban and likely backups Dave Hayes and James Hay both starting on the bench, academy graduate Nathanial Hulme was entrusted with the armband. The young man led by example throughout and produced a performance that more than justified Gibbo’s trust in him. Confident, composed and skilful as always, the midfielder - who is affectionately known as ‘Ste’ - showed just why he is rated so highly by the Prestatyn faithful.
The vocal away support made the fixture feel more like a home game, and the players seemed to feed off the energy as they came flying out of the traps. New signing Danny Davies showed his defensive qualities immediately by shielding the ball well from two Gresford attackers, before turning out of trouble and darting up the wing. With Oli Buckley, Aaron White and Jack Hoult all streaming forward in support - it was unfortunate that Davies’ cross was intercepted by the last man. The tone was set, and the Seasiders continued to attack - buoyed by the noise from the sidelines.
It came as a surprise when the hosts took the lead after 5 minutes. A clinical finish courtesy of Simon Smith took the wind out of Prestatyn sails after being caught in possession at the back. Gibson’s men responded well for the next 30 minutes, with Chris Bennett and Warren Adam creating clear-cut chances for Buckley and Hoult respectively. With 34 minutes gone, wide man Casey Faulkner showed great pace and power to beat 3 opposition players and find the run of Oli Buckley. The striker flashed it across the face of goal and Aaron White must have been inches from tapping in the equaliser. Minutes later, Faulkner showed great defensive awareness to get back on his own goal line to clear. Ciran Jones picked up the loose ball and drove forward on the counter, but the hosts regrouped well.
Despite Prestatyn looking the more likely side, Gresford scored a second on 37 minutes after some pinball in the box eventually led to the ball being scrambled across the goal line. Oli Buckley almost gave the Seasiders a route back into the game just before the break; Jack Hoult cleverly slipped him in after beating two defenders, but the goalkeeper pulled off a great save to keep the two-goal deficit intact.
Both sides were slow to start the second half, but there were good chances for White, Bennett and Hoult. Dave Hayes had replaced Ciran Jones at the break, and his experience and confidence on the ball showed as Prestatyn built their attacks from the back. The real tipping of the balance came in the 58th minute with the introduction of returning forward Alec Williams. Now shooting towards the army of away fans, the Seasiders did nothing but pile on the pressure and create chance after chance for the remainder of the game - and Williams seemed to be at the heart of everything. He almost made an immediate impact - weaving in and out of challenges near the edge of the box, he eventually got a shot off that was saved well. The visiting supporters were growing in volume, and their side seemed to be thriving off it.
Sensing the build-up of pressure, Gibbo made another change by bringing on Macauley Taylor to turn the screw. The young striker’s pace caused massive problems for the tiring Gresford defence, who were holding on - to put it mildly. Taylor’s first shot on goal within two minutes of his introduction was bound for the top corner, and only the right palm of the diving goalkeeper denied him. Dave Hayes went close from the resulting corner, before Alec Williams produced a stunning strike of his own. The travelling fans were stunned when the Gresford ‘keeper pulled off another unbelievable save.
The constant pressure and bombardment of the opposition goal had to pay off, and on 70 minutes - it did. Oli Buckley received the ball near the edge of the box, and with not much on for him, he turned and fired. His left-footed shot sailed past the man between the sticks and nestled in the far corner. The crowd behind the goal erupted, and it seemed a matter of time before the equaliser came.
The Seasiders were camped in the attacking third for the remainder of the game, forcing Gresford to defend for their lives. Oli Buckley came within inches of levelling the score with 10 minutes to go. He met Alec Williams’ early cross but could only rattle the post with his headed effort. Dan Roberts had a similar chance in the dying seconds but was again denied by the goalkeeper.
2 - 1 the game ended. Plenty of positives despite the result, and the players will take that into this weekend’s Welsh Cup tie at home to New Brighton Villa.
by Ryan Unsworth