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Sunday, 15 February 2015 09:27

Excelsiors snatch Abertillery derby honours

SATURDAY 14th FEBRUARY: Abertillery Leisure Centre, overcast.
ABERTILLERY BLUEBIRDS 3 ABERTILLERY EXCELSIORS 4 (Gwent County League Division 1)
A local derby on a ground I haven't visited before is appealing, and when south Wales suffers a spell of heavy rain on Friday and into Saturday, the fact that it's on a 3G surface is the clincher for this fixture. The only downside is that it means a less than straightforward journey, for the north Gwent town of Abertillery is poorly served by public transport - the railway is several miles away, there's no direct bus from Cardiff, and only a limited and slow one from Newport.

A combination of rail to Llanhilleth and a bus connection gets me there, and once in Abertillery Town centre it's a simple walk up to the Leisure Centre in Tillery Street. This is the Bluebirds' new home, after they left the delightful Cwmnantygroes ground in Six Bells in 2014, a year in which they also suffered relegation from the Welsh League to the Gwent County. There they've joined neighbours Excelsiors, who also had an extended spell in the Welsh League (under various names) before relegation a few years ago. So this season brings town derbies in league football for the first time in many years, and the first one up at Excelsiors' Woodland Field ended 2-2 earlier in the season. The Excelsiors are a little better placed in the table now than their hosts, but in a local derby that may not count for much.

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