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Sunday, 06 December 2015 12:25

Another 5 for Dixon and Barry

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SATURDAY 5th DECEMBER: Jenner Park, blustery wind, grey.
The continuing wet and stormy weather was always likely to disrupt this weekend's highly-anticipated Welsh Cup Third Round programme, and two ties I'd been contemplating were called off as early as Friday afternoon, leaving me to ponder what was left which was still plenty of choice. The weather forecast put me off travelling north or west, but luckily one of the more interesting south v north fixtures is on the new 3G pitch at Jenner Park: Barry Town United, lying fourth in the Welsh League First Division, entertain Denbigh Town, who are sixth in the Huws Gray Alliance, so it's as close on league standings as anything in this round.

Recent form gives conflicting indicators: Denbigh have a remarkable cup run to their name - having beaten four Welsh Premier teams en route to the final of TheWord Cup, but their league form is mixed in recent weeks. Meanwhile Barry put seven goals past Aberdare in the last round, but only just salvaged a draw against the same opposition in the league a week ago; when I watched them against Risca a few weeks ago, they struggled on the 3G and were hugely flattered by the 4-1 win. Based on my feeling that the Alliance is generally stronger, but that its teams have a weak record in south Wales, I think you can make a case for either side today; it just depends who's on form.

It's good to see Jenner Park busy, with over 300 spectators, plenty of local children involved as pre-match escorts for the teams, and the clubhouse open once again. The only disappointment is the limited away support, but then it's a long way to travel in poor weather.

After an unexplained delay in proceedings - the teams not even out at 2.31 - the opening minutes are encouraging: typical end-to-end cup fare, Denbigh forcing several early corners, but Barry moving the ball quickly down both wings and creating a couple of chances. It's clear the visitors' defence - without Bala loanee Tony Davies - is uncomfortable dealing with the pace of the Barry forwards and every attack at the Gladstone Road end threatens a breakthrough. It comes in the 16th minute, the ball given away in the right back position, Barry striker James Dixon able to advance on goal and beat Elliot Power with a confident finish. Dixon, the five-goal hero of the Aberdare win in Round 2, is exactly the sort of player you don't want to gift the ball to, but Denbigh do it again seven minutes later! An unforced error in a more central position, Dixon left alone to roll the ball past Power for 2-0.

A disastrous start for the north Walians, and they are denied a vital goal when the woodwork stops a deflected effort, but maybe they can re-group at half-time with the two-goal deficit not insurmountable? Before they are allowed that opportunity, they're undone by a fine Barry goal: Drew Fahiya delivering a lovely cross from the right that Dixon volleys in for his hat-trick. We adjourn to the warmth of the clubhouse, the home fans buzzing with the excitement of the first half and the form of their goal-scorer. I think the most significant feature of the half is that the whole team are really starting to look at home on the 3G pitch, and learning how best to play on it.

We can't know what was said in the Denbigh changing-room during the break (though we can guess), but they emerge several minutes ahead of Barry, ready to start the recovery. They're all-action once the half gets underway, camping in the Barry half, forcing corners and free-kicks. But eleven minutes into the half, on the break, Barry's Jordan Cotterill gets behind their defence and cuts the ball into the danger area; in the ensuing confusion, Dixon - who else ? - seizes on the ball to fire in his, and Barry's fourth, which just about kills off thoughts of a Denbigh comeback. So when the visitors do score, in the 64th minute, it seems more like a consolation. And to confirm that, four minutes later, Barry carve open the Denbigh defence for Dixon to slot his fifth goal under keeper Power. Five goals in consecutive Welsh Cup rounds - a remarkable and possibly unique achievement by local lad Dixon, who must be a contender for play-of-the-round again!

Denbigh's day couldn't get a lot worse, so by the time they concede the most awful of own goals - a misplaced back-pass - their fans have already written the whole experience off as a bad dream. If there's a best time to concede like this, it's when you're 5-1 down late on in a cup tie. The final nineteen minutes are academic, and without incident - there's not even the chance of Dixon adding to his goal tally, as he's been taken off. Barry go through, and if they can click into this type of form again in Round 4, they need fear no-one here at Jenner Park.

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