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Sunday, 10 November 2013 10:06


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Cambrian v Pontardawe Cambrian v Pontardawe

SATURDAY 9TH NOVEMBER : King George's New Field - dry and chilly
A typical November Saturday: choice of matches heavily influenced by postponements and travel through Cardiff restricted by rugby crowds. But this week at least, I have a solution - I can travel north away from Cardiff to watch Cambrian's cup tie which is guaranteed to be on, thanks to their new third - or is it fourth - generation synthetic pitch. I've heard the latest generation of these pitches is a further advance on those at, say, TNS.

After days of heavy rain, which has disrupted the Welsh Cup Second Round games today, a dryer interlude is forecast, and sure enough at lunchtime the skies lighten shortly before I set off, via Llandaf station, for Tonypandy. Even though haven't had to worry about possible postponement, there's still been a little uncertainty this morning over kick off time, a perennial problem it seems with FAW cup competitions. According to all websites, including the FAW's and Cambrian's, it's a 2pm kick off; but actually it transpires it's 2.30 (because floodlights are available - but why not stick to 2pm anyway ?). It really would be easier if we could have a mandated kick off time, but then when have the views of spectators been a consideration ?

The walk up from Tonypandy station takes us through the town centre, a down-at-heel collection of takeaways and cheap shops, although Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have made a token effort with some information boards on the town's place in history - coal-mining, riots, a train disaster and the first Italan ice-cream parlour in south Wales. No mention of Mid-Rhondda FC, or the staging of Welsh Cup finals on their Tonypandy ground. Scope for another board, if the budget will stretch that far ?

Onwards and upwards to Clydach Vale, where by 2pm a meagre crowd of around fifty has assembled at the King George's New Field ground, above the old King George's Field, on which a South Wales Senior League game on grass has also, surprisingly escaped the weather. Apart from the new pitch, the ground is unchanged, the covered stand under the mountainside and the tea bar and 'VIP suite' housed in old containers behind the goal. The pitch is grass-green, with millions of tiny black rubber grains darkening the surface, and of course it is completely free of standing water.

The Welsh League table shows these two sides are only two places apart, but Cambrian have hit the headlines with wins over Welsh Premier clubs in the Premier League's 'The Word' Cup recently and look favourites to progress at the expense of a young Pontardawe Town side. In the early exchanges Cambrian, wearing sky blue shirts, have Town on the back foot, forcing a succession of corners, none of which result in a real attempt on goal. This continues throughout the first half, but two other things are noticeable: 1. Pontardawe are actually creating the better chances on their breakaways and 2. the match is becoming bad-tempered, with fouls punished but the perpetrators maybe not dealt with firmly enough to prevent more. But, at the break, it's 0-0.

And the second half continues much the same: Pontardawe come closest to breaking the deadlock - from my vantage point at the other end, they appear to have a couple of point blank efforts blocked - and the ill-tempered mood persists, with small altercations breaking out. It is feeling like a stalemate, and thoughts turn to extra time even though half an hour remains, and just after I've remarked that a goal for Pontardawe would liven the game up, we get a goal - for Cambrian. A long throw, flicked on at the near post and a close range finish by Jason Bertorelli, a name to inspire memories of those Italian ice-cream parlours of Rhondda history.

The opening goal doesn't change the game much: Pontardawe push up a bit more, allowing Cambrian to get some better quality passes into the box, but they go to waste. Pontardawe come close a couple more times at the other end. And there are another couple of scuffles. As the game moves into stoppage time, with the visitors upfield seeking the equaliser, a through ball finds Kieran Lewis sprinting clear (was he onside ?- I can't tell from where I'm standing) and his lob over keeper Harries makes Cambrian's passage into Round 3 safe.

While not a particularly memorable game, a main point of interest today for me was the new pitch, and what I found most significant was that it really wasn't all that noticeable. These 3G pitches now allow 'proper' football to be played - perhaps suiting the more skilled player but not causing major departures from the game as it is played on grass. Undoubtedly a success and we are sure to see more of them as and when clubs and councils can afford the initial capital outlay.


While I was watching Cambrian progress as expected in Tonypandy, just a few miles up the Rhondda Valley the round's biggest shock was unfolding, as the lowest-ranked side remaining in the cup Sully Sports pulled off a shock 0-1 win at Ton Pentre, joining fellow Vale of Glamorgan side Rhoose in thre hat with the big names in Round 3 - Rhoose had achieved a small surprise of their own by putting out Tata Steel, two divisios above them, on Thursday. And a third Vale side may join them, with Barry Town United still to face Undy after their second round clash fell foul of the weather.

Two other surprise results stand out, one in south Wales and one in Mid Wales: Chepstow Town of the Welsh League third division scored a notable 0-1 away win at former champions Goytre United, while the local derby between Spar Mid Wales League Llanfair United and Huws Gray Alliance neighbours Guilsfield ended 2-1 to the Llanfair Caereinion club, the biggest result in their history.

Elsewhere, everything went more or less with the form book: Monmouth Town hit seven goals in avoiding a giant-killing act at Treharris, and Huws Gray Alliance leaders Cefn Druids recovered from trailing 1-0 at Barmouth to progress with a 1-3 win. The draw for Round 3 takes place on Monday, while the postponed ties are expected to go ahead next Saturday.


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