AN 85th minute breakaway goal by Cefn Druids substitute Adam Eden condemned Aberystwyth Town to a place in the bottom-six Welsh Premier Play-Off Conference with a 1-0 win at Park Avenue on Saturday.
With the game into the latter stages, the replacement winger timed his run to perfection to race clear to the edge of the penalty box and fire a low strike past keeper Chris Mullock at the near post.
The goal lifted the Ancients out of the bottom two, and shattered Aber’s hopes of setting up a top-six decider with Cardiff Met this weekend.
The day had started with plenty of optimism for Matthew Bishop’s men, with new signings Elliot Scotcher in midfield and John Owen up front coming straight into the starting line-up, with more new additions in midfielder Jamie Crowther and striker Lee Healey ready to impress off the subs’ bench.
A bright start saw Ricky Watts set up top scorer Luke Borrelli, who dragged a shot narrowly wide after just two minutes, and with Scotcher playing in some neat passes, Aber looked dangerous.
Ex-Bangor City, Rhyl and Llandudno striker Owen also saw a shot blocked during a lively early spell from Aber, but the visitors too had come to play their part and were soon creating chances.
The tricky Naim Arsam had a shot deflected wide of the far post, and goalkeeper Mullock parried Stuart Cook’s powerful shot to Steve Blenkinsop, who failed to connect with the rebound.
With Druids looking lively on the counter attack, Michael Pritchard was next to fire wide, after Arsam’s deep cross from the left had been cleared.
Back came Aber, and Borrelli had a shot blocked for a corner, but once again Arsan was in the action, firing one effort just wide of the post, and almost setting up Blenkinsop with a great low cross.
At the other end, a sweet move involving Borrelli and Kostya Georgievsky created a chance, which Owen put away beautifully, but the linesman’s whistle had already gone for offside.
Cledan Davies brought a save from visiting keeper Filippo Casatotto, and Luke Sherbon flashed a volley just over, but both sides were left counting missed chances at the end of a goalless first half.
After the break, Kurtis March released Ricky Watts, whose first time cross was headed against the crossbar by the unfortunate Borrelli, before Aber boss Matthew Bishop opted for changes.
Chris Jones and new signings Lee Healey and Jamie Crowther were all sent on, but Blenkinsop went close for the visitors when his header bounced back off the far post into the grateful hands of Mullock, from Corey Roper’s corner.
For Aber, Owen went close when he latched onto a flicked header from Healey down the left channel and saw his shot whistle narrowly wide.
Owen then crossed from the opposite side for substitute Jones to head wide at the back post.
The chances kept coming as Arsan shot wide for the Ancients, as did Jones for Aber - but with 14 minutes to go the visitors introduced Eden.
He immediately put the home defence under pressure as he broke clear to send a shot just wide.
Then, with just five minutes to go, the winger found himself in space to beat the offside trap, and his low strike beat Mullock at his near post for what was to be the devastating blow for the Seasiders.
ABERYSTWYTH: C Mullock, R Watts, C Davies, S Rodon, L Sherbon, J Owen, L Borrelli (L Healey 62), R Wollacott, K Georgievsky (C Jones 53’), K March (J Crowther 62), E Scotcher. Not used: W Bell, J Rimmer.
CEFN DRUIDS: F Casaretto, K Parle, A Hesp, M Eckersley, S Cook, S Blenkinsop (A Eden 76’), M Pritchard, N Peate, N Arsan, F Hajdari, C Roper. Subs not used: M Cook, D Lloyd (gk), J Harper. Att: 187. Ref: Nick Pratt.