Welsh League Division One - Caldicot Town 0 Monmouth Town 1
A LATE Rob Laurie header saw Monmouth record a vital 1-0 win at relegation rivals Caldicot Town on Saturday.
The visitors knew a win at Jubilee Way would be key to their survival chances, and came into the clash level on points with the hosts but having played a game more.
Monmouth have suffered poor form recently, and were winless since 7th January, but so had their hosts: Caldicot were on a three-match losing streak before kick off.
On a heavy but playable surface, and facing blustery conditions, the game got underway having passed an earlier inspection.
The first chance of the game went to the visitors when Luke Cleaves played a ball down the line and found Craig Lewis on the edge of the box, but his shot was an easy save for Caldicot keeper Gareth Wesson.
Both sides chances, as first Sam Oxley failed to convert as he rounded the keeper and a chance from Caldicot winger Alex Jarman was pushed wide.
With few clearcut chances, the first half was marked as Caldicot centre forward and former Monmouth player Safian Stupinski was sent off for violent conduct after an off the ball incident when he seemingly raised his hand to a Monmouth player.
With the home side down to 10 men, the Kingfishers settled into the game and were looking extremely dangerous in wide areas. They had what was perhaps the best chance of the half when Jake Robinson beat his man and whipped a ball towards the back post which found Sam Palmer, however he was stretching for the ball and his header went wide of the post.
Despite their man advantage Monmouth started the second half on the back foot, as Caldicot’s players attempted to make the most of having the wind behind them. The home side had the first clear chance of the half, as their forward Garin Withers found himself through on goal in a foot race with Monmouth’s defender. Withers hesitated slightly too long in pulling the trigger, as the visitors cleared their lines.
Monmouth continued to dominate possession, but again Caldicot were causing them problems at the back. Caldicot nearly took the lead on the hour mark when a whipped corner into the box looked destined to go in, but Luke Cleaves was there to heroically head it off the line. Lee Williams was later forced to produce a magnificent one on one save to deny their striker.
The visitors themselves came close to taking the lead from a corner, and were in the ascendancy as 10-man Caldicot attempted to hang on.
Monmouth manager Ross Kennedy turned to youngsters Brad Flay and Robbie Atkinson, who both looked a real threat. With time running out Kennedy’s substitutions paid off when Flay picked up the ball on the edge of the box and picked out an unmarked Rob Laurie at the back post, whose header bounced and flew into the corner of net.
Manager Ross Kennedy said he was “relieved” but described Monmouth’s performance as “average”.
“I felt that we weren’t at our best and didn’t play well,” he said. “In recent weeks we have performed superbly and lost but that’s football.
“Rob’s scored a cracking header to get us the win but we still have six massive fixtures to go which will decide our fate.”
Monmouth are away next Friday to relegation rivals Risca United in what promises to be another vital game in the Town’s season.