Away | 17 March 2017 | Attendance: 289
Rhyl’s Dafabet Welsh Premier League survival hopes took a massive knock against Cefn Druids as their rivals at the foot of the table easily claimed all three points against a Rhyl side which lacked the fight and character at a crucial time in the season.
The hosts had the better of the early opportunities with the hero from last week, keeper, Dan Lavercombe again impressing in the Rhyl goal. The windy conditions were a big factor creating an even greater emphasis on players keeping the ball on the ground and keeping possession. From a corner the Druids defence failed to clear and Lewis Coyle was presented with an opportunity in the 20th minute but his shot lacked pace to trouble Michael Jones in the Druids goal.
Three minutes later, there was a certain degree of inevitability about the scorer for Druids. A ball in from the Druids left saw Ashley Ruane unmarked who was able to head home comfortably from inside the box to put the hosts into the lead. Rhyl were stirred further into action with a Toby Jones free kick deflected wide for a corner and then in the 36th minute a good run from Coyle saw him bring the ball forward 30 yards from defence to play in Christian Langos whose turn and shot went narrowly over from outside the box.
The second half saw the welcome return of Alex Jones for the Lilywhites after he had missed the last three matches through injury but it was Druids who had the first chance with Michael Pritchard having space to finish but he only found the side netting in the 52nd minute.
Four minutes later and the game slipped away from Rhyl. Skipper Stefan Halewood failure to control the ball gave possession to Druids who quickly broke down their left and the ball came across the box for ex Lilywhite Pritchard to place his finish straight through Lavercombe and to put the hosts 2-0 up.
Clearly riled from his error four minutes later Stefan Halewood allowed himself to get involved in a dispute with a Cefn Druids player. The referee Nick Pratt who was yards away was seemingly unclear as to what had happened but following conversation with his assistant who was 50 yards away he came to the conclusion that a red card was warranted and the Lilywhites were down to 10 men.
Over the next 15 minutes all shape appeared to dissolve from the Rhyl side and there was an inevitability about further goals from the hosts. In the 69th minute Ellis Healing scored a delightful goal from outside of the box and then 5 minutes later a cross from the left saw Ashley Ruane in space to grab his second.
Rhyl grabbed a consolation goal in the 79th minute through sub Steve Lewis who lifted the ball home from the edge of the box but it was all too little too late from a Rhyl side which underperformed on a crucial night and which leaves their survival hopes out of their hands with 4 matches to play.
Return of the Ex
Ex Lilywhite Ashley Ruane once again showed his abilities. Took his chances well and brought his tally against the Lilywhites for 5 for the season from 3 matches. A genuine talent and a decent lad, just wish he would stop scoring against his old team….
Five minutes of madness for the Skipper
The big turning point was the mistake for the second and then allowing himself to get involved in a dispute which turned into a sending off. The skipper has offered his apologies to all involved in the club for his actions and it’s up to his colleagues to make amends for him in the next 4 matches.
Out of our hands
With Airbus playing Aberystwyth later on Saturday afternoon by 4.30pm, Aber may be 4 points clear of Rhyl with 4 games left. This will mean that survival will be out of our hands. Next Saturday Aber host Cefn Druids so by the time we play Newtown the following day the size of our task for survival will be a lot clearer.