A SECOND-half goal from Andy 'AJ' Jones against his former club Newtown virtually guaranteed Airbus UK Broughton at least the runners-up spot in the Welsh Premier League.
The Wingmakers beat the Robins 1-0 at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium and it would take an amazing combination of results to deny them a second appearance in Europe.
Making his first-team debut for the Wingmakers was 18 year-old left-back Lee Emberton, a local lad who is another graduate of the club’s successful Under-19 Academy side.
The game was end-to-end from kick-off but the first chance fell to Ian Kearney for Airbus on eight minutes, when he poked a shot wide from a corner. Few opportunities were created in the opening 20 minutes but it was an absorbing game to watch between two seemingly well-matched sides.
Ex-Newtown skipper Jones picked up a booking on half an hour as a few firm challenges were made by both sides. Minutes later Ryan Wade cut inside the penalty area and struck the bar with a fierce effort as the game jolted back into life following a lull.
The Wingmakers began to shade possession as the half wore on and came close, but were kept out by resolute defending from the Robins. Five minutes before half-time Wade went close again with a shot going just wide of the far post.
Craig Williams was booked for Newtown for a rash challenge as the game petered out towards the break, the 0-0 scoreline being a fair reflection of the half. The visitors made a change at the interval with Lance Jones replacing Tom Goodwin.
On 50 minutes Steve Jones had a close-range shot deflected away as Airbus tried to increase the tempo. From almost nothing, on 54 minutes the Wingmakers took the lead as a spectacular long-range volley from outside the area by Andy Jones put them 1-0 up. Although hard on his old club it was exactly what Airbus and the game needed.
Airbus now had the edge but had to be wary of the threat Newtown posed on the break. With 20 minutes to go, the visitors replaced Jeff White with Sean Evans, before they had Kieran Mills-Evans booked for dissent.
With the game heading into the latter stages the pressure from Airbus intensified, and with 10 minutes to go the Wingmakers replaced Chris Budrys with Steve Abbott. At the other end, Lance Jones blazed an effort high and wide for the away side.
The last throw of the dice for Newtown was putting Zac Evans on in place of Luke Boundford with five minutes to go, before Airbus replaced Steve Jones with Mike Roddy adding to the midfield. In the final minute Abbott was foiled by Newtown goalkeeper Chris Mullock when through on goal.
In the end, the Wingmakers held what they had, and collected another valuable three points. An added bonus was the clean sheet and accomplished performance of teenager Lee Emberton on his debut.
Andy Jones’ strike was worthier of winning better games than this one, but at this stage of the season the result is all that matters, and Newtown had provided a tough test.
Photo: Andy Jones volleys the Airbus winner.