Monmouthshire Windows

East Gwent League, Division 1

Thornwell R&W A 2 Caldicot Castle A 4

TWO goals apiece for Gary McGrath and Joe O’Brien gave Castle the points in a hard-fought encounter, writes Bob Cypher.

Played on the 3G surface at Caldicot Leisure Centre, Castle’s captain won the toss and chose to play against the wind in the first half.

Thornwell’s Kyle Gettings and Ben Corbett kept Castle’s back four busy.

Both keepers made important saves, Thornwell’s Ben Roberts and his counterpart Dave Hayward keeping a clean sheet to half time.

The second half saw Castle player-manager O’Brien attempt an audacious goal from the kick-off, the ball striking the bar and bouncing down before being grabbed by Roberts.

The first 15 minutes were the same as the first half, neither team able to dominate with solid midfield work by Thornwell skipper Rory Garey and Ryan Guscott and Castle’s Richie Withey and Craig McCluskey prominent throughout.

But then a Thornwell attack broke down and Sean Marsh cleared the ball to sub McGrath who fired the opener from 18 yards.

Minutes later, the same player popped up again to make it 2-0.

Thornwell boss Richard Jones sent on Brandon Baskerville to give Castle’s defence an extra problem and within minutes it bore fruit.

As Baskerville threatened, a weak clearance was collected by Guscott who lobbed Hayward from the corner of the area.

Thornwell would have levelled but for great work by Hayward.

He parried two close-range efforts by Tony Reynolds with his legs before scooping the bouncing ball into the air and catching it at the third attempt.

The let-off sparked Castle into action and within minutes O’Brien chased a speculative high ball and when the ball squirted high into the air, he out-jumped Roberts to head the ball into an empty net.

Thornwell bounced back and Hayward gave away a penalty when he brought down Baskerville.

Guscott made it 3-2 from the spot but Castle were not to be denied victory, O’Brien collecting a long ball and lobbing the onrushing Roberts to complete the victory.

“We did what we had to do in the first half, playing against the wind and up the slope,” O’Brien said later.

“The 3G is a massive pitch when you aren’t used to it and we’ve never booked a game here because we aren’t a massive fan of it, although I am starting to rethink that.

“I don’t think it was a boring game and Thornwell played well, but when they played with a high line, it left 40 yards of space for me to run into and I’ll back myself against most people in this league in a foot race.

“We brought a few subs on and it changed the game - I’m particularly pleased for Gary McGrath and hopefully those two goals will spur him on now.”