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Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:47

Holywell ride their luck

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SATURDAY 21st FEBRUARY: The Observatory Ground, bright but blustery.
HAKIN UNITED 3 HOLYWELL TOWN 4 (FAW TROPHY Quarter-final)
The last eight of the FAW Trophy, the first non-regionalised round of the competition, is potentially one of the highlights of the season - the one round when you can get a real north v south tie, played on a club ground rather than a neutral venue. And this year's draw has served up three such ties, although the down-side of that is the real possibility that all three southern sides will lose and the semi-finals will consist of four teams from the Welsh Alliance. Just one of the ties is taking place in south Wales, and that's where I'm heading...

Sunday, 15 February 2015 09:27

Excelsiors snatch Abertillery derby honours

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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.

Sunday, 08 February 2015 09:12

Carmarthen survive the siege of Ely

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SATURDAY 7th FEBRUARY : Cwrt-yr-Ala, cold.
CAERAU (ELY) 0 CARMARTHEN TOWN 4 (after extra time) (Welsh Cup Round 5)
The last sixteen of the Welsh Cup involves not one, but two attractive ties in Cardiff, so the question has always been which one to choose. By my reckoning, Caerau (Ely) are more likely than Cardiff Met to cause an upset against Welsh Premier opposition, so for me it's a mid-day bus journey through the city centre and out to Cwrt-yr-Ala. Now regular readers will know I rarely have anything positive to say about international rugby, but on this occasion I'm grateful the Wales v England Six Nations game was brought forward to Friday evening from its usual Saturday slot - otherwise my four mile journey would have been a huge challenge today.

Sunday, 01 February 2015 11:37

ABERGAVENNY TOWN MARCH ON IN TROPHY

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SATURDAY 31st JANUARY: Pen-y-Pound Stadium: sunny but very cold.
ABERGAVENNY TOWN 4 SPORTING MARVELS 0 (FAW Trophy Round 5)
Although I had planned to go north again this week for my FAW Trophy action, the wintry weather has been worse up there and I have to play safe and watch one of the south Wales ties: of the three options, Abergavenny is the least exposed to the fierce northerly wind, and so a first visit to Abergavenny Town in their new home of Penypound Stadium (which I visited nearly six months ago when the venue's other tenants, Monmouth Town, moved in).

Sunday, 01 February 2015 11:32

HONOURS EVEN AT WEPRE PARK

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SATURDAY 24th JANUARY: Wepre Park, dry but chilly
FC NOMADS OF CONNAH'S QUAY 2 SALTNEY TOWN 2 (Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Div)
It's been a very long time, too long in fact, since I travelled north for a game. Various things, including the weather, are to blame for that, but when the Welsh winter rains subside for a few days, I seize the opportunity.

With several north Wales clubs on my 'visit soon' list, there are options, and although I had half a mind to watch FC Nomads in next week's FAW Trophy game, the knowledge that their local derby in the league is definitely on proves enough: I'm on my way to Wepre Park.

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