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Sunday, 18 May 2014 06:32

WHEN WINNING ISN'T ENOUGH (2)

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SATURDAY 17th MAY: the GenQuip Stadium, warm and very sunny.
CWM WELFARE 2 TREFELIN B.G.C. 1 (SWFA Play off, promotion to Welsh League)
More play-off action, but we're three rungs up the football ladder from last night. Today's match is one of the more bizarre features of the pyramid: winning the highly competitive South Wales Amateur or South Wales Senior League isn't enough to earn promotion, as only one Welsh League place is available to south Wales. No matter that none of the west Wales or Gwent champion clubs are eligible for promotion this year, there's still only one place and that means that Amateur League double winners Trefelin must meet Senior League champions Cwm at a 'neutral' ground - although that turns out to be just down the road from Trefelin, at Port Talbot Town's GenQuip stadim.

A good three figure crowd builds in the hour before kick off, but it's hard to tell who has the larger number of supporters. In any case, there are many neutrals here too. I think Trefelin are probably slight favourites: they come into this game after winning their league cup last week, whereas Cwm had an off day in the SWFA Senior Cup final. Trefelin's side has some real experience, including Robert Cockings who has played on this pitch many times, while it also has to be said that the Amateur League's record in these play-offs is far superior.

These matches can often be rather cagey, nervy affairs, but today the opening minutes are nothing of the sort, as these two teams have decided to go for the all-action, committed approach. Cwm make the better start, with fast-flowing attacks creating openings. Rhys Williams almost opens the scoring for them, and soon after they have what looks to me like a really strong penalty appeal, possibly not given because it would have led inevitably to a red card for Trefelin keeper Aaron Ryan. At the other end Trefelin are looking dangerous more from set pieces than open play, with corner, free-kicks and long throws putting Chris Coles's goal under some pressure.

After 30 minutes of pretty frantic action, Cwm get the breakthrough. Another fast break, a well-delivered cross and the hard-working David Cachia sweeps the ball in and wheels away in celebration. Trefelin redouble their efforts in search of an equaliser before the interval, and Cwm have to defend hard at times, but they reach half time deservedly ahead. Front runners Rhys Williams and David Cachia have looked the more potent attacking force, and they have relied more on skill and pace than Trefelin's sometimes more 'streetwise' style.

Now Cwm Welfare have the usual leader's dilemma - continue with the attack-minded play or defend the lead ? The second half brings immediate pressure by the red and blacks of Trefelin, with Coles being busier than in the first half. He leaps to save one effort in the 60th minute, then has to tip the resulting corner over the bar. But Cwm's forwards are still getting behind Trefelin's defence and, in the 70th minute, a sweet three-man move sees the ball switched from left wing to right goal-line, and then crossed into the goalmouth where David Cachia ready to pounce; but defender Matthew Beynon gets to it first, his hasty attempt to hoof clear only blasting it into the net. 2-0 and twenty minutes left.

Now Cwm do switch to a more defensive set-up, and within five minutes defending too deep leads to a penalty being conceded. However, hero Coles is equal to Luke Bowen's placed spot-kick. Still 2-0 with fifteen minutes left, and I feel the failure to score from the spot may have sapped Trefelin's belief. But no, they're still pushing Cwm back ever deeper, and inside the last ten minutes a second penalty is conceded - it has to be said that this is partly through naivety on Cwm's part, for the attack comes when possession is given back via a shot from distance at the other end, when the ball really should have been 'taken for a walk' to the corner. This time Damon Thomas sends Coles the wrong way and while there may only be a few minutes left, they are going to be an ordeal for Cwm, who have now lost the momentum of earlier. A couple of desperate goal-line blocks are required to keep Trefelin out, and somehow Cwm hold on. For much of the game they had been the better footballing side, but in the end only just avoided being taken into extra time.

Cwm have ended the Senior League play-off jinx and will take their place in the Welsh League. Trefelin, on the other hand, despite having won everything in the Amateur League this season, have to remain at the same level for 2014-15 and attempt to do it all again.

Read 5426 times Last modified on Sunday, 06 July 2014 07:22

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