East Gwent League Division 1

Caldicot Castle A 6 Undy Athletic 2

FOUR goals by Castle player-manager Joe O’Brien clinched the points to keep his team’s title aspirations on track, writes Bob Cypher.

But O’Brien admitted his team’s uneven start to the campaign has been due to poor attitude and commitment.

“This result today wasn’t a reaction, we were still poor in the first half,” he said.

“We went ahead early, lost the lead because we didn’t play to the whistle and, although we regained it before half-time, it was only our big improvement in the second half which gave us the points.

“We started to find gaps in Undy’s defence and scored some good goals - especially Craig McCluskey’s rocket - although I admit one of my goals was intended as a cross and not a shot.

“We have a lot of our regulars on the injury list and that includes Rick Woodland who was our leading scorer until today.

“Rick has had a chest infection which isn’t going away so it’s a big loss.”

The victory sees Castle up to third in the table behind Severn Tunnel and leaders Iscoed Tafarn and O’Brien is realistic about his team’s long-term aims.

“We’ve been out of the Gwent County League for a long time and we want to get back there but we have to be realistic.

“Winning this title is even harder than it has been with Tunnel, Tafarn, Monmouth Town, Thornwell and ourselves so it will be tough for everyone because we are all capable of taking points off our rivals.

Zak Niblett gave Castle the lead on 10 minutes but the advantage was cancelled out when Luke Smith hooked the ball past Dave Hayward with the home defence appealing in vain for offside.

O’Brien grabbed the first of his four goals to restore the lead but the second half belonged to Castle as O’Brien’s treble and a thunderous drive by McCluskey wrapped it up.

The winning margin was harsh on the visitors, however,

With the club’s Reserves without a game, manager George Guppy had been able to select a large squad and they looked lively in the first half with Harry and Josh James prominent, while Ben Purnell kept Castle's Joe Shaw-Jones busy on the right flank.

Goalkeeper Lee Harris was often left exposed having little chance with four of the goals conceded.

He heroically denied O’Brien a fifth goal when he parried the striker’s first attempt and recovered well to push the point-blank follow-up around a post.