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Tuesday, 07 November 2017 14:39


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SATURDAY 28th OCTOBER. Waunfawr Park, sunny intervals.
With the weather calming down after its recent excesses, there's a full programme of football going ahead on this, the last Saturday in October. But no need to scan the fixture lists - my choice is already made.

This is the match I should have been at last Saturday. I was glad when it was called off in mid-morning, because I didn't fancy a storm-affected trip to a ground without cover, with every risk of postponement. Today, however, its appeal is irresistible. A couple of buses get me to Cross Keys, where the Sirhowy flows into the Ebbw, and where Gwent League newcomers Cwmcarn Athletic play in Waunfawr Park.

This turns out to be a linear, well-appointed public park squeezed in between housing and the river Ebbw. The football pitch is at the northern end, with a rugby pitch next and other park facilities further down - including a community-run refreshment kiosk and the changing room block. It's an attractive setting, made all the more so by some spectacular hillside scenery on three sides.

Cwmcarn Athletic probably haven't ever played a club from as far away as Milford Haven before, and it's a big day for them in their first season in the Trophy. I knew in advance they were issuing a proper colour programme (they shared a picture of it ahead of last week's postponement) but I hadn't realised it was a regular issue for home games. It's impressive too, especially as the cover actually has today's date on it - they've re-printed the covers! Most of us would have forgiven last week's date in the circumstances.

The game has attracted a fair few neutrals - several local lovers of these Trophy games like me and other groundhoppers from further afield. Hakin don't seem to have brought many fans - maybe they remember a visit to nearby Pontymister a couple of years back when they crashed to a humiliating 5-1 defeat.

Cwmcarn are a couple of divisions below Pontymister and I'd be very surprised if Hakin were to have a similar experience today. But the opening quarter of an hour is even and tentative, the Vikings cautiously and respectfully gauging the opposition. But as they start to exert pressure, everything changes rather quickly: a first goal after 19 minutes is followed by three in the next ten minutes and Hakin are coasting. The Cwmcarn keeper is the busiest man on the pitch.
The second half is a formality, but both sides continue to entertain, especially once Cwmcarn pull a goal back in the 60th minute. The response is a couple more goals to extend the lead, and just as it looks as if Hakin are happy with 6-1, they add a couple more in the closing stages. Again a handful of fine saves prevented a bigger score. Two of the visitors - Nicky Woodrow and Ben Fawcett - have netted hat-tricks and maybe will have to tussle over the match ball.

No complaints from Cwmcarn over the result - Hakin were on song today, the Vikings have run rampage in the Gwent valleys this time. The home side, though outplayed, kept going and didn't lose discipline in a good-tempered, clean game, thankfully one not in any way spoiled by the elements - a nice change.

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