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Saturday, 15 November 2014 20:38

Young Guns shoot down Celtic

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SATURDAY 15th NOVEMBER 2014: Celtic Park - bright.
It's finally stopped raining. A downpour overnight leaves enough room for doubt over postponements, but Saturday dawns dry and the forecast is good. I don't plan to look any further than the handful of rescheduled Welsh Cup ties, and I'm inclined to head east where there are three games. By mid-morning, with positive vibes from Cwmbran (if not absolutely definitive), I've made my decision and I'm heading for Celtic Park.

The drawback, again, is that travel through Cardiff is disrupted by rugby crowds, but I get through my change of trains at Central without anything more stressful than an enforced detour between platforms. By twenty-five past one I've reached Cwmbran and twenty minutes later I'm at Celtic Park on Henllys Way. It's hardly buzzing, with only a few spectators around, and I have to go and seek out the programmes and someone to relieve me of the entrance charge. By kick-off, the attendance numbers less than forty, disappointing for this stage of the cup, and highlighted by the fact that a noisy crowd of around twice the size is watching a Celtic youth game on an adjacent pitch.

The visitors today are the self-styled "Young Guns" of Caerau (Ely) from Cardiff, doing really well in Division One of the Welsh League; that's one level above Cwmbran Celtic, who have eventually had to accept their relegation to Division Two and are starting to plough through the backlog of fixtures that accumulated while they battled to stay in Division One. Cup matches kept them going through the first couple of months of the season but now it's a moot point whether a longer run would be good or not.

The first few minutes are frenetic, but scrappy: both sides are enthusiastically getting to the ball but it's ping-ponging between them as there is little time to direct a pass to a team-mate. Half-chances come at both ends, and the visitors soon have the ball in the net, but Celtic keeper Church has been impeded and it is ruled out.

Caerau (Ely) are the first to settle, and also the first to score: a neat move down the right, a cut-back to the edge of the area, and Huw Corne drills a low shot past Church. As the first half continues, Caerau (Ely) start to look the better side and deserving of the lead. Their movement off the ball and ability to find their men with passes short and long is causing Celtic all sorts of problems, with Andy Smith and Jamal Roberts both putting their defence under pressure. But, despite clearly dominating the first half, the visitors go in at half time with just the slender 1-0 lead. Will it be enough?

After the break, Celtic set about their task with renewed vigour. Although the technical differences remain, the gap in confidence, or belief, has been bridged and they're piling forward and putting Caerau on the back foot at times. Chances start to come, but Caerau hold the line, thanks to some competent defending and a slice of fortune at times. They are still creating chances of their own, and winning their share of corners, one of which almost turns to disaster for them: Jamal Roberts places the ball but referee Beckett isn't happy. From over ten yards away he's decided it's not in the corner arc (though actually it is). Roberts remonstrates and is becoming irate. He gets a yellow card, and might well have seen red but for pleas from team-mates to let it go. All silly and unnecessary, but here my sympathies are really with the player.

Celtic continue to go in search of the equaliser; they think they've got it in the 65th minute, but an infringement (offside?) is spotted. Then ten minutes later Scott James has to make a fine save from a Dominic Connor free-kick. At half time they couldn't have complained about the scoreline, but now... they don't deserve to be trailing still. But full-time is approaching, and time is slipping away. Caerau (Ely) are finding space as Celtic push forward, and five minutes from the end the inevitable happens: Caerau (Ely) score. It's a quality finish too, from Jamal Roberts (just as well indeed that he was talked out of getting himself sent off). He receives the ball out on the right, cuts in to the edge of the area and shoots low and hard past Church. And so it's all over, even though the referee plays several minutes of stoppage time.

Caerau (Ely) will travel north-west to Penrhyncoch in two weeks time, again visiting a side one tier lower in the pyramid, with a real chance of making it through to the last sixteen. But if they do, they may reflect that today hasn't been at all easy. And after a horrendous journey home through the post-rugby mayhem at Cardiff Central, I feel much the same.


While Caerau (Ely) avoided defeat to a side from just one division below them, it was another Cardiff outfit, and the lowest-ranked team in the whole competition, who made the deadlines again today: Tiger Bay, of the Cardiff Combination League, pulled off another away win at Dynamo Aber, to set up a home tie with Caersws in a fortnight. Discipline proved a problem again, as they played much of the game with ten men, but snatched victory 3-2 with a last-minute goal.

Another last-minute goal killed off Risca United's hopes and sent Garden Village through for an interesting long trip up to Bangor City. So low is confidence at Bangor currently that even with their cup pedigree and home advantage, this tie must look like a potential upset.
Briton Ferry Llansawel also face a long trip north, to face Conwy United, after comfortably disposing of Aberdare Town 5-1, and Welsh League champions Monmouth Town also earned a similar lengthy trip to Gap Connah's Quay by beating Penybont 3-1.

By contrast, the other tie today was for the right to host Welsh Premier opponents Carmarthen Town, and it will be Undy Athletic who entertain the old Gold down on the Gwent levels after overcoming the last Gwent County League survivors Albion Rovers.

Read 4827 times Last modified on Saturday, 15 November 2014 20:56

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