LLANELLI Town’s winless five game run came to an end on Saturday (Oct 6) as they beat Llandudno 2-1 in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
A James Loveridge goal in the first half – his sixth in nine matches – and a vintage Jordan Follows finish in the second, ensured the three points and kept the visitors in touch with the other clubs at the wrong end of the table.
Once again, however, manager Andy Hill was down to the bare bones in terms of team selection, due to injuries, suspension and work commitments, with only two academy players on the bench.
In addition, even more problems occurred during the course of the game, with both Joe Clarke and Ross Jones sustaining injuries – the latter necessitating a visit to Bangor hospital for a suspected broken collarbone.
As if these setbacks were not bad enough, Hill must also do without the services of Kurtis March in the immediate future, with him being shown a red card three minutes from time to add to the one for Anthony Finselbach in the previous match versus Newtown.
These lapses are not helping the Reds` cause with such a small squad at the manager`s disposal, but hopefully they can bring in a few new faces during the January transfer window.
On a more positive note, both Chris Thomas and Carlos Indja played a full part at Llandudno, with the latter impressing, particularly as he has not been involved to a great degree so far, and it is to be hope he will become a regular in the side for the duration of the season.
Goalkeeper Oliver Davies is also proving his worth, and he brought off a number of crucial saves to keep out the home attackers.
He was called into early action when saving at the feet of Alan Webb who was played in by Mark Connolly, before brilliantly turning around at full stretch a strike from Alfons Fosu-Mensah following a neat build-up.
A Toby Jones inswinging corner was fisted away by Davies, and when Jones returned the loose ball into the goalmouth, it was scrambled over for another flag kick.
Having survived these early home sorties, the visitors gradually came more into the game, and when Chris Jones picked out Follows in the area, his finish lacked power and Shaun Pearson in the Llandudno goal gathered easily.
Loveridge was then guilty of the same lack of a positive finish when Follows provided the opportunity, before an offside flag cancelled out a John Owen finish into the Reds` net from a George Harry assist.
Probably against the run of play, the Reds then stunned their opponents by going ahead on 27 minutes, when Loveridge intercepted a loose pass across the box before gratefully accepting the chance to take it in his stride and slotting low past Pearson.
Stung by this unexpected reverse, Llandudno continued to press and Davies was kept busy, turning over an effort from distance by Owen, while denying both Jones and Zyaac Edwards.
With half time approaching, it appeared as if the Reds would just about hang on to their slender lead, but as so often has happened during the season, they conceded an equaliser in stoppage time following a cross into the middle by Jones which was not dealt with effectively with the ball bobbling about, before eventually reaching Mike Pearson at the far post who lashed it past Davies.
With Clarke having suffered a blow to the face in the first half, his place at the start of the second period was taken by Anthony Nelson, but again the home side were setting the pace in the opening stages, with Davies being forced into another fine save to push over a further Webb effort.
Ross Jones then suffered his injury when he went down in a heap on the byline following a challenge, and it was obvious from the outset that he had taken a severe blow, and after lengthy treatment by the physios on both sides, he was forced to leave the field with Tristan Jenkins coming on as his replacement in the 59th minute.
Despite these setbacks, and having used their only two substitutes, the Reds began to look the more dangerous of the sides, and Loveridge should have done better when Follows set up a great chance, but again his finish was wayward.
A deflection for Llandudno into the box was seized upon by Harry, but Davies threw himself at his feet to smother the ball and prevent any serious damage.
Then came the game-changing moment on 77 minutes when Follows gained possession on halfway where his run took him past a couple of defenders, and he left Pearson grasping thin air with a superb finish high into the net from just outside the box.
With the contest seemingly slipping out of their grasp, the hosts laid siege to their opponents` goal, but despite all their huffing and puffing, their finishing left a lot to be desired, whilst they came up against a resolute defence which was determined not to concede, while Davies also played his part, turning around a far post attempt from Owen.
With just three minutes of normal time left, but a substantial amount of stoppage time to be added due to the Jones injury, the visitors` cause became even more difficult when March was red-carded for a high challenge on Mike Pearson.
With eight minutes of additional time to be played and at a numerical disadvantage, the Reds endured a number of heart-stopping moments up to the final whistle as their opponents attempted desperately to salvage something out of the contest, but they held firm to secure three precious points, and make the long journey home seem all the sweeter.
If they can replicate that effort on Friday evening (Oct 12) at Stebonheath with the visit of Cardiff MU, then a rise up the table could be on the cards. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.