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Sunday, 23 October 2016 14:34

Visiting Hinterland

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SATURDAY 22nd OCTOBER: Uppingham Playing Fields - sunny but a chilly breeze from the east.
BORTH UNITED 4 BUILTH WELLS 0 (Spar Mid Wales Division 2)
The last weekend of Arriva's cheap autumn fares. A fine weather forecast. Just has to be a day for a long-distance trip, and the fixture lists have yielded just the answer, a visit to one of the dwindling number of towns in Wales that I've actually never visited.

However, I feel as if I know Borth. The acclaimed bi-lingual Welsh noir detective series 'Hinterland' or 'Y Gwyll' featured the town and its station in one memorable episode. Alighting at the station, after my five hour journey (bus and two trains) everything is instantly recognisable - especially the eerie, atmospheric marshland across the line, Cors Fochno, the largest lowland bog in Britain. It's actually part of the Dyfi Biosphere, the only UNESCO Biosphere reserve in Wales, and on a fine, sunny day like today it's not that scary. But I can imagine what it's like at other darker, mistier and stormier times. The railway station building - transformed by 'Hinterland' into the territory of a creepy station attendant with hobbies of model train layouts and serial killing, is now a community-run railway museum, not at all creepy in fact.

The town is remarkably linear - the High Street sandwiched between the sea and pebble beach on one side, and the railway and bog a mere hundred yards or so inland. About half a mile south of the station, in this strip of land, sits the football ground. Surrounded by drainage ditches, it's clearly a venue at constant risk of flooding - as one official says, the sea, the Dyfi estuary and the bog see to that. Thankfully, the dry spell recently means the pitch is in good order today.

It's an attractive little ground, with a blue-painted brick stand backing onto the community centre and a tea bar caravan alongside. Hard-standing along just the stand side, the rest grass. Neatly railed on both sides and the southern end. No programme, but a collection taken for admission.

Today's game has significance at the top of the Mid Wales Second division: Borth lie second, level on points and goal difference with leaders Kerry, but having scored and conceded fewer goals. If they win today - and do better than Kerry - they'll go top for the first time in their three seasons in the league. Builth Wells, who have been top already this season, are third in the table. I'm expecting goals - both sides scored four last week. Before the game, Borth officials rue their record against Builth - they've never beaten them, and last year surrended a 3-0 lead to lose 3-4! Confidence not exactly running high, despite Ian Lewis receiving the Spar Div 2 Player of the month for Aug/Sept on behalf of absent Gwion Pugh-Jones before kick-off.

The Bulls of Builth, wearing their customary amber, start as if they know they have plenty of confidence and their first attack produces a shot which looks goal-bound, but cannons back off the crossbar. Borth survive the early pressure and begin to move forward themselves, and when they get a couple of chances in an eighth minute attack, Ben Jones opens the scoring.

Builth may be stunned by the setback, but are soon attacking again. They appear to have scored when home keeper Gates spills the ball on his line, but the referee is of course not well-placed to make the call, and without goal-line technology nor even neutral linesmen, it's all down to him: he waves play on, and it's pleasing to note the acceptance of this from the visitors - in pro football all hell would have broken loose.

Borth improve as the half develops, overcoming any nerves or thoughts of facing a bogy team. So their second goal is far less against the run of play than the opener was - this one a nice move down the right, and the ball pulled back for top scorer Liam Lewis to tap over the line.

The second half brings more Borth dominance: they're full of confidence now, and winning most of the important challenges and loose balls. Builth plug away and have their share of shots - but few are on target, and there's a sense that their heads are dropping when Borth's Gareth Hughes scores a third after a shot from Ryan Davies comes back off the bar. 3-0 to Borth - like last year - but will Builth now launch another comeback? There's about half an hour to do so, but it never gets going.

Really, Borth should be adding to the margin. Several good chances come to nothing, through delayed shots or wrong choices. It isn't until stoppage time that a trip in the box brings a penalty, which Davies converts. At the time, the importance of this goal is not obvious - but afterwards, when Kerry's 3-0 win over Presteigne is confirmed, it proves to be the goal that takes the Crows to the top of the table.

Another very enjoyable long-distance trip to an interesting town and friendly club. The homeward journey proves to be an ordeal (almost 6 hours with delays and cancellations), but even that can't take the gloss off the day.

Read 2240 times Last modified on Friday, 28 October 2016 13:12

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