A rollercoaster of emotions on Friday night as Druids played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Aber at The Rock. Druids on the cusp of their first win of the season, but two last gasp goals from the visitors ensured the spoils were shared.
Our opponents came into the game on a solid run of form, unbeaten in their last 4 league games while Druids were looking to bounce back after a disappointing home loss to Haverfordwest the week before.
The match kicked off and it was the visitors who started best, forward Harry Franklin got an early chance after a flick on by John Owen, however captain Michael Jones was quick off his line and saved the strike well to keep us in the game. Aber continued to apply the pressure as Druids were finding it difficult to settle into the game. On twelve minutes, Franklin found the ball in our box again and fired a low strike through a few bodies which crept in at the near post. 1-0 to Aber early on and an uphill battle now for Druids.
Following the opening goal however, Druids heads didn’t drop and they kept pressing forward to try and get back into it. We won a corner just before the 20th minute mark which was whipped in to the near post by Ioan Evans, centre half Phil Mooney rose highest with a brilliant flick on into the far corner to put us level!
A great response from Druids who were now playing with much more confidence. Liam Thomas and Jelson Antonio were looking a threat for us in attack, keeping the Aber defence on their toes. A few more half chances for both sides as the first half came to a close. We went into the break all square at 1-1, looking confident and ready for a big second half!
However, it was Aber who flew out of the blocks as the second period began. Ex Druid Alex Darlington struck a low shot on the edge of the area just going wide of the post. Michael Jones and the Druids defence were busy for the opening 15 minutes or so but were staying solid and keeping us in the game. Much like the first 45 minutes, as the second half progressed Druids began to find their rhythm and work their way into it. On 68 minutes, a brilliant counterattack from Druids gave us the lead! Breaking swiftly from our box, Tyler Garratt was played through down the right wing, his cross was flicked on by Antonio to Liam Thomas at the far post. He did brilliantly to sit his man down and fire into the bottom corner to put us 2-1 up!
This was now our best period of the match as we were all over the visitors. Playing with great confidence in possession and keeping Aber penned in their half. Then on 80 minutes we got another to take control of the game with only 10 minutes to go! This was another excellent goal from Druids, showing the kind of football we have the ability to play. Beginning with Taylor Thain in the middle of the park, he played a sharp give and go with Tyler Garratt before sliding through Jelson Antonio into the box. Jelson stayed calm under the pressure of the Aber backline and set it back to the onrushing Niall Flint on the edge of the area, who cooling slotted it first time into the far corner. A fine goal and Druids 3-1 up!
A big opportunity now for Druids to get their first win of the season with 10 minutes to go, but Aber weren’t giving up and continued to press looking for a goal back. Ex Druid Ben Wynne came on to play against his former side, after moving to Aber in the January window. It just had to be him, as 5 minutes later he rifled a strike into the roof of the net to make it 3-2 with hearts in mouths now for the final 5 minutes or so.
Druids had everyone back at this point, putting it all on the line to hold out for the win. Then heartbreak as literally minutes before full time, miscommunication at the back allowed an Aber forward to sneak in and head a loose ball into the net to make it 3-3. The referee called for full time shortly after. An agonising end to a thrilling match at The Rock as Aber fought their way back in the final moments to claim a point.
The Druids players were clearly very disappointed at the end there as they couldn’t hold on for the win. But some excellent football on display from Druids who certainly had Aber on the ropes for large periods of the game. It is a point after all and more encouraging signs from the players who put on a great game and performance for the fans.
We now turn our attention to Saturday when we make the long trip south to face Haverfordwest County.
More than just a football club.