LLANELLI TOWN 3 PONTYPRIDD TOWN 3 (AET).
Llanelli Town won 5-3 on penalties.
There was enough incident crammed into this first round league cup tie to last an entire season, with three red cards, two penalties, a couple of spectacular goals and a Reds equaliser deep into extra time which culminated in a penalty shoot-out ,with the home side emerging eventual winners.
Key players Lee Bevan, Richard Lewis and Jordan Follows were missing from the Reds starting line-up, and the opening exchanges saw their opponents enjoy the majority of possession without really threatening the goal.
In fact, with about their first foray into the visitors` half, the hosts took the lead on 12 minutes after Bruno Forkuoh was found in space some ten yards out, and he sidestepped goalkeeper Ryan Griffiths before slotting home.
Disaster then struck when referee Teifion Cook dismissed Reds` midfielder Anthony Finselbach in the 21st minute for a challenge on Tom Rutherford, but even so they went further ahead seven minutes later when Matthew Hughes was picked out wide on the left, and he unleashed a superb finish which rocketed past Griffiths from 30 yards.
The visitors retaliated with Mark Dunford volleying just beyond the far post when he was found by Rutherford, before the numerical disadvantage was rectified with a red card for Ponty captain Sam Graves for bringing down Jamie Evans just outside the box as he made a run on goal a minute from the break.
From the subsequent free kick, Liam Samuel forced Griffiths into a decent save to keep it out, and the Reds went in at half time with their two goal cushion intact.
The visitors` goal came under some early second half pressure with a number of near misses, but the game was turned on its head on the hour when referee Cook awarded a somewhat harsh penalty against Jordan Davies for a handling offence when he seemingly could not get out of the way when the ball was driven at him
Ponty striker Luke Gullick stepped up to take the kick and drove it low past Craig Morris in the home goal to bring the visitors right back into contention.
Luke Jones was brought on instead of Hughes on 65 minutes, but within two minutes of this, the visitors were awarded another spot kick when Matthew Hibbs was floored in the area by a clumsy challenge by Adam Jones, and Gullick levelled the scores with another unstoppable shot.
The Reds made a further change with Forkuoh, who had been the victim of some robust tackles, making way for Luke Morgan.
Luke Jones headed over from close range from a Kyle Graves delivery, but with neither side able to break the deadlock, the tie went into extra time.
Six minutes into the additional time, Ponty took the lead for the first time when Gullick set up James Hill who unleashed a delightful curling finish past Morris.
If this setback was not bad enough, the Reds were then reduced to nine men when Morgan was sent off for elbowing Geraint Passmore, leaving them with a mountain to climb.
Morris did well to divert a Hill strike with an outstretched foot for a corner, but with time running out it appeared as if the Reds` hopes of progression in the competition were at an end.
But five minutes from the final 120 minutes, a Samuel corner was headed back into the goalmouth by Graves, and although it was cleared, the upraised flag of the assistant confirmed the ball had crossed the line.
The home side had been thrown a lifeline despite all the odds, and with the tie having now to be settled from the penalty spot, Davies, Samuel, Evans and Robert Thomas were all successful, with Gullick, Passmore and Hibbs on target for the visitors.
With the penalty count 4-3 in the Reds` favour, Alastair Johnstone had his kick kept out by Morris, and Luke Jones applied thecoup de grace to send the home side through to the second round and another home game against Goytre United.
LLANELLI TOWN; Morris; Graves; A. Jones; Finselbach ©; C. Thomas; Evans; Samuel. R. Thomas;
Hughes (L. Jones, 65); Davies; Forkuoh (Morgan, 72); Subs. not used
PONTYPRIDD TOWN; Griffiths; Wheeler (Johnston, 74); Escott; Rutherford; Graves ©; Doumas;
McCarthy; Lewis (Passmore, 58); Gullick; Hibbs; Dunford (Hill, 53);
Subs. not used; Hole; Iheanacho.
SCORERS; Llanelli Town – Forkuoh, 12; Hughes, 28; Graves, 116.
Pontypridd Town – Gullick, 60 (P); 67 (P); Hill, 96.
YELLOW CARDS; Llanelli Town – Hughes; R. Thomas.
Pontypridd Town – Doumas; Escott.
RED CARDS; Llanelli Town – Finselbach; Morgan.
Pontypridd Town – Graves.
REFEREE; Teifion Cook (Clydach).