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Sunday, 01 October 2017 20:18

BRICKING IT

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SATURDAY 30th SEPTEMBER. Clwyedog Park, showery.
BRICKFIELD RANGERS 6 LEX GLYNDWR 2 (WNL Wrexham Area Premier Division Cup)


I'm motivated to get in a longer trip this week, thinking that it will soon become harder when bad weather and postponements start to kick in. After researching a few really long and tricky options, I opt out of a 6am start and settle for 'just' the eight hour round trip to Wrexham, ticking off a rather overdue visit to Brickfield Rangers.

It's a familiar and relatively straightforward journey up through the marches, and it could be a pleasant one too, if only Arriva Trains Wales would provide enough capacity on their busiest services. This one, bound to be busy with Chester racegoers added to the usual Saturday mid-morning peak, is served by a two carriage unit. Predictably, after Hereford, it becomes overcrowded and noisy. It's a relief to step off onto the platform at Wrexham (after battling my way off the train).

After pottering around Wrexham, dodging showers and choirs (there's a street singing festival on) I head a mile or so out of town in search of today's venue. A couple of years ago Brickfield moved from their old base at Court Road playing fields to a new home at Clwyedog Park. The move was barely a mile, but a huge step in terms of the potential. My one and only visit to Court Road left me shocked that such a venue hosted football at step 3 of the pyramid, but Clwyedog Park is already way superior, even though the club regard it as still a work in progress. Cover at both ends will be supplemented with a further seated stand along one side, enabling the ground to meet FAW criteria for the Huws Gray Alliance, the next level up.

Whether the 250 seats are likely to be filled regularly is another matter - even in the football hotbed of Wrexham, Rangers clearly have difficulty attracting fans, although today a clash with a Wrexham FC home match at the Racecourse hasn't helped. Several thousand will turn up to pay £15 or so to watch that English fixture, but only 30 or so are here for the free entertainment on offer. It doesn't seem right, especially when Brickfield run numerous junior sides.

It's a local derby game today too: Lex Glyndwr (sadly no longer sporting their original name of Lex XI) are near neighbours, also from the west side of the town. Rangers sit top of the league but suffered a home defeat in the Trophy last week, while Lex have made a fair start to the season. On a heavy pitch, both sides struggle with ball control in the opening minutes, but Rangers look dangerous in attack and when Dale Davies shrugs off a trip, cuts in from the left wing and fires a low shot into the corner of the net, they have an early lead. It lasts less than a minute, for while I'm still making a note of the opening goal, Lex equalise. The pace doesn't let up, as another Rangers goal arrives in the eleventh minute, a looping header by Callum Humphreys from a corner.

After the frenetic opening, the rest of the half brings a few more chances but just one more goal - Davies adding his second for Brickfield. Lex have their moments, but nothing to show. In now quite heavy rain, the teams retreat to the changing rooms with the score 3-1.

The second half brings a let up in the rain, and an early goal: a Brickfield free-kick loops up off the defensive wall and Steve Watkins reacts quickest to head in. Lex battle for a while to get back into the game and eventually fall further behind in a way they'll want to forget: a back pass, a mis-kick and a simple task for Sam Molyneux to bundle over the line.

Despite a Lex penalty that reduces the deficit, the last word goes to Brickfield and sub Joe Sullivan with a fine goal from 20 yards out. After that, it's game over, and a matter of waiting for the final whistle, which duly comes without much in the way of unnecessary stoppage time, allowing me to hot-foot it back to the station for the long (and mercifully somewhat quieter) journey home. The Racecourse floodlights are on as I leave Wrexham General. Those inside will leave disappointed when Sutton United snatch an injury time equaliser. I, on the other hand, am satisfied with another ground visited and an eight goal cup tie.

(A full feature on Brickfield Rangers will appear in the magazine later this season)

 

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