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Sunday, 14 February 2016 09:14

Celtic spring a cup shock

SATURDAY 13th FEBRUARY. Celtic Park, cold and drizzly.
CWMBRAN CELTIC 5 GOYTRE FC 3 (JD Welsh Cup Round 4)
Although I've missed the last two Saturdays while on holiday, nothing has changed on my return: football people are still avidly following every weather forecast, desperately hoping the end of the week will be dry enough to allow some games to be played. By all accounts, last Saturday was as wet as any this miserable winter, and it was stormy when I returned, but a dry interlude brings a little hope...

Actually, last weekend's bad weather worked to my advantage, as the postponement of the Cwmbran Celtic v Goytre tie in the Welsh Cup means it's been re-scheduled for today - an obvious choice of game - assuming it's on - with teams from levels 2 and 3 of the pyramid doing battle for the chance to host a Welsh Premier side in the quarter-finals. Overnight rain on Friday night/Saturday morning means a couple of pitch inspections, but positive reports mid-morning are enough for me to head east (there's an added bonus here - I can travel this way without touching Cardiff city centre, which is going to be its usual mess on a rugby Six Nations matchday).

By the time I get to Cwmbran, the rain has stopped, though it's still very cold and dull as I walk down from the bus station to Celtic Park, via the busy Cwmbran Shopping Centre and the less busy Old Cwmbran high street - an incongruous street in the midst of the new-town estates, its run-down, old-fashioned shops presumably appealing to those who find the centre just a bit too exciting.
The pitch at Celtic Park is clearly playable: the goalmouths sanded, but the surface not holding water anywhere. A few early arrivals are here, and the small band of home officials is already busy with matchday duties. As kick off approaches, a reasonable crowd gathers, and would be counted at well over a hundred were it not for the thirty-odd who assemble on the bank outside the ground to watch for free - too mean to pay the very modest £3 entrance fee.

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