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Saturday, 27 January 2018 20:59

A "Fairytale" of Dragons and Miners

SATURDAY 27th JANUARY: USW Sports Campus, wet and mild.
PONTYPRIDD TOWN 1 PENYDARREN BGC 2 (JD Welsh Cup Round 4)
The last sixteen of the Welsh Cup, always a day to savour, and ever since the draw was made back in December I have had just one destination today. Two south Wales valleys clubs, one from tier 3, one from tier 5, and one of them will qualify for the quarter-finals of the Welsh Cup.

Whilst I've been anticipating today, the weather has been a bit of a worry. Heavy rain this morning on top of already saturated ground brings a rash of postponements through the morning. I set off for Treforest early - half-expecting to arrive to news that the match referee has deemed the pitch unplayable and so leaving enough time to high-tail it down to Cyncoed for a later kick off. But on arrival, those fears are unfounded: the pitch is looking heavy but OK, although spectator areas are holding vast amounts of water. The game, it seems, is very much on.

Penydarren BGC's extraordinary winning run has drawn an increasing amount of attention and coverage. The FAW website ran a video feature on the Merthyr club this week and social media has been awash with messages of encouragement.

The most commonly-used description for Penydarren's exploits is "fairy-tale". A cliché, although we all understand the meaning. But today is no day for fairies: their little gossamer wings would soon get waterlogged in the persistent rain and the abundant mud at the USW Sport Park is not the best surface for tiny bare feet. No, today is a day for good old-fashioned cup football, football in the raw, and over 400 spectators have assembled expecting a real battle in the mud. Today's teams are the distinctly un-fairylike Dragons of Pontypridd and Miners of Penydarren.

Published in Football
Tuesday, 07 November 2017 14:43

Avoiding the banana skin

SATURDAY 4th NOVEMBER: Felindre Road, dry and sunny but chilly.
PENCOED ATHLETIC 1 PONTYPRIDD TOWN 3 (JD Welsh Cup Round 2)
With three South Wales Alliance teams at home in today's Welsh Cup Second Round, all underdogs hoping for an upset, it's a question of which one to choose: Caerphilly is closest, but I've been there this season; Penydarren v STM is tempting and with any rain forecast would have been best, but there was a shock when these sides met in the Trophy, so surely it won't happen again? It's so long since I've been to Pencoed that eventually I decide on their game with Pontypridd.

Pencoed is close to Bridgend and on the main railway line - but still manages to be rather poorly served by public transport. One train an hour stops here (several more flashing past), while there's also an hourly bus between Bridgend and Pontypridd. All of which means that I have to travel early and spend almost an hour pottering around. I can now confirm, there's not a lot to see in Pencoed.

Published in Football

SATURDAY 9th JANUARY: Cyncoed Campus, heavy rain.
CARDIFF MET UNI. 1 PONTYPRIDD TOWN 2 (Nathaniel Cars League Cup Round 3)
The weather dominates the week again: a brief respite from the rain gets me hopefully planning trips west or north this Saturday. Then things take a turn for the worse again, options start to narrow once again. By Friday I'm back to playing safe again - stay local, see what's left on in the morning - and by mid-morning almost everything on grass has been called off. 3G options remain, and Cardiff Met v Pontypridd looks the most interesting.

At 12.15 I set off to walk across north Cardiff to the campus, with just a spot of rain here and there; within fifteen minutes steady rain has set in again and the walk turns out to be wetter than expected. At least the Mets' ground isn't short on shelter.

Today's league cup tie is a meeting of two in-form sides, and although two divisions separate them, I'm not at all convinced that Ponty come here as outsiders, as their recent Division 3 form is very strong (particularly a midweek win over Abergavenny). On copying down the line-ups, this feeling is increased, since the University teamsheet contains ten names not even listed in the 22-strong first team squad in the programme! At first sight, that seems to be a difference between the sides - Ponty's starting line-up is made up entirely of players listed in the programme - but it turns out the they are changed too, after the exertions of their midweek league win, with a different back four and midfield, and a teenage debutant.

Published in Football
Saturday, 28 December 2013 20:13

BROADLY ON COURSE

SATURDAY 28TH DECEMBER : Ynysangharad Park, weather calm and dry.
PONTYPRIDD TOWN 2 BRIDGEND STREET 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 3)
Having missed out on Boxing Day football, the Saturday between Christmas and New Year brings a return to normal transport schedules and a reasonably full fixture list. Except that the weather intervenes and reduces that to a very limited fixture list, storms leaving many of the grass pitches of south Wales waterlogged. With several target matches lost, it comes down to questions of "what's on?", "what's reachable?" and "shall I bother?" As for the answers: a few definitely on in the Welsh League, but limited reliable info from the minor leagues, Pontypridd is reachable, and with the sun coming out at lunchtime, the lure of football and fresh air wins over warmth and the Welsh National on TV.

Published in Football

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