CHRISTMAS came early for Caldicot Castle on Saturday as promotion rivals Pontnewydd United gift-wrapped three valuable points.

United arrived without SEVEN regulars, filling the gaps with reserves, and paid the price, losing 7-2.

“Some had work commitments and some are injured,” explained United’s acting manager Kevin Beckett. “But fair play to Castle, they beat us fair and square.”

Castle boss David Adamson admitted he had not expected such an easy match after seeing goals from Richard Thorn, Oliver Mottram, Joe O’Brien, Dan Ellis (2), Craig McCluskey and Scott McKeon destroy United.

“We scored early and expected them to come back at us but we just kept scoring,” he said.

“Although we were leading 5-0 just before the break, I knew we could lose our concentration and we did – and they scored.

“Even at 7-2 in the last 10 minutes, I never felt safe.

“United were missing players but so were we, without Shane Jeremiah, James McKeon and Wayne Morley who can all influence a game.

“They should be back for Saturday’s match at home to bottom club Pontypool Town.

“We are in the mix and you never know what we can achieve this season.”

Castle are fourth, a point above United and then there is an eight-point gap to Neuadd Wen – who lost 4-3 at Mathern - in sixth place.

The match at Mathern was “like a defeat” according to the table-topping home team’s co-manager Gareth Moore.

“We lost our captain Sammy Marmont with damaged knee ligaments in the first couple of minutes,” he said.

“Then we had Richard Wood sent off after a scuffle with their keeper, who was also dismissed.”

The visitors arrived late and after a phone call to the league secretary, it was agreed the match could be shortened to 35 minutes each half.

“We lost 20 minutes and it’s often in the last 20 minutes that our fitness shows,” Moore added.

His co-manager Dean Thomas was also downhearted ahead of Saturday’s home clash with second-placed Sebastopol.

But 24 hours later, he had put the disappointment of losing Marmont and Wood to one side.

“It was a great three points,” he said. It wasn’t a great performance, but with the pantomime we had before the game and then losing Sammy so early, we had to fight for the victory and that’s what we did.”

Mathern’s goals came from Wayne Duffield, new signing Luke Farley. Alex Bell and Elliot Greening.

Elsewhere in Division Three, Thornwell Red & White lost 3-2 at Whiteheads United and, in Division Two, Blackrock Rovers lost by the same score at RTB Ebbw Vale.