ABERYSTWYTH TOWN kicked off their 2021/22 season in perfect style on Friday night (Aug 6), beating Top 4 side Penybont on penalties in their first competitive match in front of spectators for over 500 days.

Sam Snaith gave the visitors an early lead but a spirited second half comeback was capped by Mathew Jones’ late penalty, and Owain Jones scored the winning penalty to end a night of high drama.

On a pleasant but breezy August evening, a crowd of 224 returned to Park Avenue for their first view of competitive football since February 2020.

New signings Sam Phillips and Alex Darlington made home debuts, added to the core of the side who finished last season strongly.

However the visitors started better, with the unmarked Snaith nodding home Kane Owen’s corner on 5 minutes to gain an early lead.

Harry Franklin almost got on the end of Matty Jones’ deep cross in response, but couldn’t quite finish, and at the other end Nathan Wood almost grabbed a second for the Blues but the ball bounced wide.

Darlington dinked a lovely ball through for the effervescent Franklin, who was denied by Ashley Morris, and then Alex Pennock was called upon to save Lewis Clutton’s low drive, and a half of few chances ended with the visitors ahead on points and goals by 1-0.

Nathan Wood was denied by Pennock early in the second half, Clutton headed wide from Owen’s deep cross, and James Waite curled just wide, and it was clear that the next goal would be huge.

Much to their credit Aber showed excellent fitness and finished the game strongly.

Sam Phillips showed some nice trickery out on the right but his effort was blocked, and he then picked out Franklin unmarked in the box, but the Hereford man’s goalbound effort somehow was blocked by Morris.

Penybont sub Ryan Reynolds clipped the crossbar, then back came Aber with Franklin setting up Owain Jones for a sidefooted effort which was again saved by Morris.

With eight minutes to go, the impeccable Franklin embarked on his umpteenth goalbound dribble, and was fouled in the box, leading to a penalty which was confidently put away by Matty Jones.

In an exciting ending Phillips could have won it for the Black and Greens, but once again Morris was to the rescue, Owain Jones had a shot deflected, Franklin’s shot was saved and Snaith lobbed over the bar from distance, and for the fifth time in seven meetings between the sides Aber v Penybont ended 1-1.

Without extra time the match headed straight for penalties, with Owen and Snaith, and Matty Jones and Jack Rimmer scoring confidently.

James Waite then sent his penalty over the bar, and Jack Thorn confirmed Aber’s advantage. Mael Davies, Jonathan Evans and Ashley Evans also scored, but man of the match Franklin saw his penalty saved, and the shootout entered sudden death.

Dan Jefferies’s effort brought a superb diving save from Alex Pennock to his right, but then Rhys Davies was also denied, but when Lewis Harling missed Penybont’s seventh penalty, Owain Jones was not to be denied and confirmed Aber’s win with an effort which just crept under Ashley Morris’ despairing dive.

This was a thrilling ending to an enthralling match, and Aber’s young side must take huge credit for a really positive start to the new season. Antonio Corbisiero’s men will contest the Nathaniel Cup Third Round (last 16) on September 21, but before that Barry Town will visit Park Avenue for the JD Cymru Premier opener next Saturday, August 14, with a 2.30pm kick off.