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Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:33

Seventy Years of Hurt Featured

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SATURDAY 5th MAY : Ty Isaf Park, warm and sunny.

The beginning of a bank holiday heatwave banish all worries about postponements. Normal football apparel of thermal layers and woolly hats are discarded, instead I dig out sunblock and shades ahead of a short trip to Risca United's old ground, now used for the Gwent FA's finals. Of the two main finals (Senior and Amateur, open to clubs from different levels of the county's leagues) it's the Amateur one which appeals, involving two clubs I've had particularly friendly contact with over the years.

The finalists are both Gwent County Division 2 clubs, but Ynysddu come here as favourites after winning the division recently. The other big advantage they have is former WPL man Lee Kendall in goal. However, the club's cup pedigree isn't great: six losing cup finals in recent times, and seventy years since they last lifted the county's Amateur Cup. Seventh time lucky?

Both clubs have brought large followings to the big game, although part of Abertillery's has chosen to watch the game from outside the railings, rather than pay the modest £3 entry fee. Stinginess aside, there's a friendly, family feel to the crowd overall, neither side seems to have brought the rowdy, drinking groups that these occasions sometimes inspire.

The early stages of the game are disjointed, with plenty of free-kicks plus a couple of lengthy stoppages. One of these leads to the substitution of the Excelsiors goalkeeper, clearly groggy after a heavy fall. The replacement is soon busy as Ynysddu begin to press. A goal is disallowed for offside, but soon after this a high free kick from the right by Curtis Dower evades everyone in the box and settles in the back of his net. For the rest of the half, Ynysddu continue to dominate, but at 1-0 the match is still poised. Maybe Excelsiors will stage a comeback in the second half?

But no, within four minutes of the restart it's 2-0. A shot rebounds off the crossbar and Adam Thomas reacts best in the area to head in. Ynysddu now look increasingly comfortable, whereas Excelsiors seem to be finding it hard to get going in the heat; long before the final whistle Ynysddu are assured of the double, and after a rather lengthy wait for the presentations, they finally get their hands on the Amateur Cup after that seventy year wait.

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