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Monday, 22 August 2016 07:53

Tough Lessons for the Students

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SUNDAY 21st AUGUST - Cyncoed Campus Stadium, rain.
CARDIFF MET UNIVERSITY 0 BALA TOWN 1 (Dafabet Welsh Premier League)
After a ten-year absence, Welsh Premier football returns to the Welsh capital. A decade has passed since Cardiff Grange Quins' brief and disastrous cameo in the national league, several years more since the more successful era of Inter Cardiff. The latter, in fact, had a Cardiff Met connection in their final year at top level, merging with the college (then UWIC) to avoid folding. Technically, Cardiff Met are the direct successors of that merger, though they really reverted to being just a university club when the top flight place was lost in 2001.

Cardiff Met today are a far more professional outfit than that which was relegated in 2001, on and off the pitch. While Christian Edwards has built a team capable of competing at this level, their new stadium at Cyncoed is at the heart of the university campus and the football side now receives far more active support from the authorities, and they have been promoting this opening fixture heavily to the people of Cardiff.

Given all the publicity and attempts to interest Cardiff City fans, it's a shame that only 221 are here - though this may be deemed a good crowd in the neglected Welsh Premier. It's surely not the lowest Cyncoed will see this season, as it has been swelled by a fair number of groundhoppers from England and quite a few from visitors Bala Town. On the other hand, the weather - persistent rain - might have deterred a few casual 'fair-weather' spectators.

The match itself fails to set any pulses racing. As expected, Bala have the edge over the college side physically, but the Lakesiders are below their best and do not dominate proceedings. The home side play plenty of good, patient football but lack the cutting edge as feared. When they do deliver a good final ball, there's no-one to make the chances count.

A controversial penalty decision gives Bala the lead. Emlyn Lewis's challenge on Sheridan is penalised by referee Tom Williams, although it's a very marginal decision that divides opinion among spectators. It happens quite close to me, and I felt Lewis played man and ball at the same time. Nevertheless, Anthony Stephens beats Fuller with a well-placed penalty and it's 0-1.

Either side of half time, both teams continue to create half chances without really impressing. There are frankly too many errors from both sides for either manager to be satisfied.
It's only in the last ten minutes that an increase in the tempo of the Mets' play enlivens the game. A strong appeal for handball in the area is refused, then a fine mazy run by the tricky Jordan Lam is the best bit of skill seen all afternoon. It results in a corner from which a fierce goal-bound drive by Ben Bowler is blocked by Ryan Wade on the line.

But time runs out without an equaliser, and the students' steep learning curve continues. Although they remain pointless and goalless after this, there were encouraging signs when they became more adventurous near the end, and against the league runners-up they were never outclassed. As for Bala, they'll be satisfied with the result, if not the performance, as they begin the long Sunday evening journey home in the rain.

Read 2601 times Last modified on Thursday, 15 September 2016 09:56

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