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Sunday, 21 December 2014 08:38

Students Top of the Form

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SATURDAY 20th DECEMBER: Cyncoed Campus, dry with a chilly wind.
CARDIFF MET. UNIVERSITY 5 AFAN LIDO 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Division One)
The shortest, darkest Saturday of the year, and the travel and weather complications of the season all mean this is no day for attempting ambitious journeys. As luck would have it, there are two attractive fixtures in Cardiff and, baulking at the prospect of bus journeys through the city centre and out west, I choose the closer option - a first visit of the season to Cardiff Metropolitan University, who sit proudly top of the Welsh League and are entertaining Afan Lido, relegated from the Welsh Premier six months ago. Although Lido are struggling, I'm hoping to break my sequence of one-sided games....

The teams are out warming up as I arrive after the climb up Cyncoed Road and the circuitous route through the campus to the 3G football ground, which I note now has a swish new electronic scoreboard, a first for the Welsh League? No programmes today though, which is disappointing, but it's Christmas so let's drop the usual cynicism and believe the explanation (problem at printer's). After all, it's no real problem extracting the line-ups from the respective benches.

From the start, Cardiff Met in their usual maroon kit, are penning Lido back and once again an early goal threatens to set the tone for the game: a cross from the right, and Adam Roscow meets it perfectly to head home at the near post. It's now a question of how soon the lead will be doubled, because Lido rarely manage to break out of their half and are under unrelenting pressure. But the closest shave is of their own making, a back pass that has keeper McCreesh racing back to hack off his line.

If this game could have a potential turning point, it comes in the 29th minute, when Lido break promisingly down the left through Kieran Cullen. As he heads into uncharted territory in the Mets half, home keeper Will Fuller races out and clatters him. Cullen stays down for extended treatment, and Fuller stays on the pitch after receiving only a yellow card when some (obviously including all associated with Lido) expected red.

Eight minutes later, the home side finally assert their superiority on the scoreboard as well as the pitch, when an inswinging Josh Barnett corner eludes everyone and creeps in at the far post. It's soon 3-0, Roscow striking a crisp low shot between McCreesh's and his right hand post. Half time and, once again, game effectively over.

The first 20 minutes of the second half are, frankly, dull. The Mets play their passing, possession football while Lido do their level best to intercept and break up the moves and the flow. Finally, and thankfully, this pattern is broken when Jordan Lam unexpectedly runs directly at the Lido defence and scores. Four minutes later, McCreesh in the visiting goal is beaten by a bizarre cross-cum-shot from substitute Nathan Facey, and the scoreboard again reflects the match we're watching.

It stays at 5-0 for the final 20 minutes, during which Lido actually come into the game a bit and make the home defence work harder to keep the clean sheet. But there's not even a consolation goal today and a comprehensive win keeps Cardiff Mets top of the table over Christmas.

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