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Monday, 19 January 2015 19:50

HARD LESSON FOR STUDENTS

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SATURDAY 17th JANUARY: Cyncoed Campus, cold, wintry showers.
CARDIFF MET UNIVERSITY 0 CAERAU (ELY) 2 (Welsh League Division 1)
The weather wreaks havoc on the football programme again, with practically all the grass-pitch fixtures in south Wales lost to waterlogging, snow or ice. But in truth, this simplifies things today - I had other options in mind, and having watched the Mets twice recently, I was minded to go slightly further afield, but this top of the table game was always the stand-out fixture today. I am not at all sorry to have it emerge as the only sensible choice today.

After a pleasant stroll up from the bus stop at Rhydypenau, I've almost reached the ground when a hailstorm breaks out unexpectedly. It's that sort of day, but I've come prepared for cold, rather than wet. Thankfully, the showers are short-lived. In between, the sun breaks out.

Today's game brings fifth-placed Caerau (Ely) (a.k.a. The Young Guns) to Cyncoed for a cross-Cardiff derby, and a contrast in styles is expected. The teams even look very different: the students athletic and mostly quite slight, the visitors from a much larger mould, tall and muscly. The question is whether the university side's slick passing football can work against a team which has both strength and quality. Or will Christian Edwards get them to adapt their style? Over a hundred of us have turned out to see those questions answered, a big turnout by Welsh League standards.

Answers begin to emerge once the tentative opening minutes are behind us: the students are playing as they usually do, moving the ball out from defence, passing and running. But Caerau (Ely) manage to halt every such move sooner or later with a well-timed challenge. The nearest the home side comes is an early effort by Kyle McCarthy which hits a post, and after that the best chances come at the other end. There's a big penalty shout for handball, and while that isn't given, soon afterwards a move down the right feeds the ball to Rameer Outlaw on the edge of the Mets' penalty area, and he turns to shoot low across the goal and into the net.
Not only are the Mets trailing at the interval, but they're losing the physical battles: McCarthy and Harry Hope both pick up first half knocks which force them out of the game. And so it continues in the second half, with Emlyn Lewis needed extensive treatment and reappearing with his head swathed in bandages, and substitute Jordan Lam limping out of the game. By then the visitors have doubled their lead, the impressive Outlaw heading past Will Fuller in the 65th minute.

It's a comprehensive win for the visitors, who move to just three points behind Cardiff Met in the congested top spots of the Division One table. There are lessons here for the students: they were found wanting in the contest today, and not one of technique - their preferred flowing style of football proved ineffective against opponents whose strength seemed to intimidate. Sometimes you need a Plan B, but they didn't seem to have one

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