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Sunday, 09 November 2014 09:08

Cornelly beat the weather - but not Goytre

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SATURDAY 8th NOVEMBER: Meadow Street, wet and windy.
CORNELLY UNITED 1 GOYTRE UNITED 5 (FAW Welsh Cup - Round 2)
Returning to Wales after five days away, I find that the rainy season has arrived; heavy rain lashes south Wales on Friday evening and overnight, and early on Saturday postponements start to be listed. In the worst of the downpour on Saturday morning, I seriously doubt if any grass pitch will be playable, never mind my chosen Welsh Cup tie at Cornelly. Since the Round 2 draw I've had this game in my sights, a true "magic of the cup"-style fixture with four levels separating the two teams, and a local derby as well.

As the morning progresses, Cornelly inspect the Meadow Street pitch twice, and both times the news is positive, so I set off, wrapped head-to-toe in waterproofs, still mentally prepared for the dreaded postponement on arrival. But actually, as I travel through Cardiff and Bridgend, the weather seems to be clearing. By the time I reach North Cornelly, the sun's even breaking through the clouds, although here on the coastal plain a strong wind is blowing in from the south-west.

This isn't my first visit here, so I'm not harbouring any expectations of a pleasant rural village near the coast: North Cornelly and Pyle, on the other side of the main line, consist mainly of grey, modern estate housing. The football field lies at the far end of the large expanse of playing fields along Meadow Street, but since my last visit a small stepped area of cover has been erected on the furthest side, behind the dugouts. Near the stand, the ground is boggy, but the pitch itself is indeed playable, and not even heavy, with just one corner flag at the far end sitting in the middle of a puddle.

The teamsheets confirm the size of Cornelly's task today: Goytre list former Welsh Premier striker Tim Hicks at number 8, and on the bench are the prolific Richard Ryan (now back at Goytre for a third time) and former Wales youth cap Stephen Pockett. Cornelly have no such big names, but they did beat another Welsh League Div 1 side in the last round - Pontardawe Town - so we know the gap can be bridged. Goytre may be a tougher nut to crack, though.

The teams emerge from the changing room in bright sunshine, for the walk, crocodile-style, across to the pitch. But after a few minutes of warm-up, minute's silence (Remembrance weekend) and preliminaries, it's starting to rain. From the kick off, before the ball has even left the centre-circle, a robust Cornelly challenge brings a free-kick - cup tie football indeed.

Within minutes, the game is being played in testing conditions - the wind, fiercer now, is accompanied by heavy rain which sends everyone scuttling for cover - the stand is full by now, but the wall and trees near the Meadow Street goal serve almost as well. During this spell, Goytre begin to threaten. From their first corner, the ball crosses the line, in the hands of Cornelly keeper Sammy Jones, but he was fouled while jumping. Further chances come, all but one on Jones's goal, but Cornelly break out from the half way line on one occasion and Luke Martin in the visitors' goal does well to prevent a shock opening goal.

But then, after 22 minutes, Cornelly concede: an attack down the left, a ball across goal and Darren Griffiths is unmarked near the far post to smash a first time shot past Jones. Nine minutes later, Griffiths grabs his second, bursting clear of the defensive line and steering a ground shot past Jones. Cornelly seem stunned by the turn of events and in the minutes that follow they're under siege, a trifle desperate. But they avoid further damage and half time comes with Goytre just 2-0 up. During the interval, no-one seems too confident Cornelly can turn this deficit round, though the next goal could be significant.

As it turns out, the next goal isn't long coming. Goytre win a corner on the right, and after some debate with the assistant referee on where to place the ball (answer: in the puddle, no concessions), the ball arrives in the six-yard box, isn't cleared, and Tim Hicks pounces to smash it home. Then Jordan Edwards adds a fourth when given a clear run on goal from the left, and the result is now beyond doubt.

To Cornelly's credit, they haven't given up and are still battling away. Their reward comes with a well-taken goal, the striker cutting in from the right and firing into the top corner past Luke Martin's outstretched hand. It gives hope of a comeback, if not a result, and for a while the game is more even as Goytre become a little more cautious. But with nine minutes to go, Edwards adds a fifth goal and from this point they relax, raining shots in towards the Cornelly goal - several of which end up at the bottom of the steep bank behind the far goal, and none of which brings another goal.

It's 1-5 at the final whistle, a decisive win certainly, and Goytre look a formidable side, probably stronger than at any time in the last couple of seasons. Cornelly's Welsh Cup run is over, but there should be no shame in defeat against a team four leagues above them.

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Cornelly's tie was the only one in south-east Wales to escape the weather, with six postponements due to waterlogged pitches. So most of the action was in north and mid Wales, where all ten ties went ahead as planned. But there were no major shocks there either, with only two home defeats for Huws Gray Alliance clubs against teams ranked one level lower. Penrhyncoch, relegated from the Alliance this year, won away at Llanidloes Town, while Holywell Town, leaders of the Welsh Alliance, went to Mold Alex and won 1-0.

Caersws overcame a potentially tricky away tie at Llanberis in Snowdonia, winning 3-0, and Buckley swept away Waterloo Rovers' challenge with a 6-0 win. FC Nomads of Connah's Quay also had a big win, 5-2 over Llangollen, also of the Wrexham Area Premier, and so for the first time the breakaway club will be in the draw with Gap Connah's Quay, the original Nomads.
The postponed ties will be scheduled for next Saturday, and the Third Round draw is due to take place on Monday afternoon.

Read 4479 times Last modified on Sunday, 09 November 2014 09:13

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