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Saturday, 04 October 2014 18:45

Uncharted Territory for Dynamo Aber

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SATURDAY 4th OCTOBER. Morgan Jones Park, sunny, dry afternoon.
DYNAMO ABER 4 AFC BUTETOWN 2 (FAW Welsh Cup 1st Round Proper)
A Welsh Cup conference date comes round again and of course this early in the season there are still many options: still needing to be reasonably local, I had a shortlist but one of the two Cardiff contenders was scratched from it when the tie was reversed. The other is Canton Libs, a tempting fixture but the Athletic Stadium venue doesn't inspire. In the end I decide on a quick return to Dynamo Aber - I enjoyed my visit there in the last round and this time there's the incentive of a programme. Added to which it's a simple, quick bus journey over the mountain.

After heavy early morning rain, it's turned out nice: mostly sunny, but a slight autumnal chill when the sun goes behind clouds. Even so, pretty good for early October and the Morgan Jones Park pitch looks fine despite the rain - apart from one soft patch under trees at the town end. On my arrival, player/manager Luke Ganderton produces the match programme and team details, and we're all set. Or at least we should be, but there's a minor snag - we have two assistant referees but no sign of the main official. At 2pm the teams are out, the assistants wait by the changing rooms, but still no referee. A few minutes later he appears, running towards the changing rooms, and after a few more minutes he emerges in correct attire to lead his team to the pitch. No harm done, but this just wouldn't happen in the First Round of the English FA Cup, would it ?

At 2.10, the game is underway. Dynamo have beaten two Welsh League sides in previous rounds, but that doesn't mean Butetown (of the South Wales Senior League) are going to be easier. Although Aber have some early chances, mostly from throws deep in Butetown territory, actually the first real scoring chance comes at the other end in the 7th minute. The first half settles into a tight contest, punctuated by constant offsides at both ends. Aber are trying to set their fast runners free, without much success, while on the flanks Butetown are posing a threat, with the tricky Ammar Yusri particularly catching my eye. There are some robust tackles too, with the visitors' Matthew Allwood looking lucky to get only a yellow for one particular challenge.

The game needs something to break the pattern and it comes unexpectedly in the 39th minute: an Aber throw from the right reaches the goalmouth, where keeper Daniel John leaps and although under no challenge, slightly misjudges it. His fingertips deflect it goalwards and it bounces over the line before being scrambled away. The assistant referee correctly advises his colleague in the middle to award the goal, and gets a fair deal of stick from the visiting bench as a result. He seems more concerned that in the excitement he gave the wrong flag and hand signal.

So, 1-0 to Aber just like in the last round. On that occasion they conceded early in the second half and... it happens again. A free kick floated invitingly to the far post and slid in for the equaliser. And just like the last time, Aber quickly regain their lead in the 54th minute, when Gareth Tedstone makes his most telling contribution to the game so far, chasing a long ball to the left touchline, outpacing an opponent who had yards on him. He cuts inside and pulls the ball back for Craig Williams to convert.

After five more minutes, Aber's lead is extended thanks to a suicidal back pass, seized on by Jordan Carter, and now Butetown are really having to chase the game. They look capable of rescuing themselves and despite pushing up they aren't leaving themselves too open to counter-attacks. They get their reward in the 67th minute, when Aber are hopelessly stretched trying to defend a fast break from the left. Can the Cardiff Bay side complete the comeback ? Well, it's in the balance, and they create enough possession and chances, the best of which comes in the final five minutes when Ebanehita Esekhaigbe beats advancing Aber keeper Michael Marsden but shoots just wide of the far post.

That proves to be Butetown's last real chance, because within a couple of minutes their comeback is derailed. Aber substitute Nathan Hosgood races into the box, and a challenge brings him crashing to the ground. A hard one for the officials to call, and of course the defenders are outraged when Mr Havel points to the spot, but to the neutrals it seems fair enough. A red card is brandished, though whether that was for the challenge or the dissent I'm not sure. If the former, I'd say that is very harsh. When the dust settles, Carl Williams fires a crisp low shot past keeper John and, at 4-2, the chances of ten-man Butetown forcing extra time are extinguished.

The whistle duly goes after quite a few minutes of stoppage time, and Aber can celebrate the glory and financial rewards of reaching the Second Round. They deserved their win, but had to battle for it and credit has to go to AFC Butetown for their part in a good cup tie.

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