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Saturday, 17 October 2015 18:42

Cardiff v Swansea in the Trophy

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SATURDAY 17th OCTOBER - Lawrenny Avenue / Leckwith Stadium - dry but cool.
CANTON LIBERAL 4 PENLAN CLUB 1 (FAW TROPHY, Round 3)

Third Round of the Trophy, 32 ties to choose from. As ever, there are plenty of interesting candidates but on this particular Saturday my choice is restricted - it's really not a day to attempt to use public transport, as Cardiff is once again swamped with rugby fans: not just those of the four visiting teams playing in the RWC quarter-finals in the Millennium Stadium this weekend, but also the usual turn-out of locals (who re-discover their interest in rugby on days when Wales are playing), heading to the city centre bars to watch the Welsh team at Twickenham this afternoon.

But I'm lucky: one of the very best ties in the third round of the Trophy is tight here in Cardiff (there are actually two local games). It's a Cardiff v Swansea clash (which always adds spice) and it involves two very good teams, Canton Liberal and Penlan Club. So, for the second time this season, my destination is the Libs' pitch next to Cardiff Athletic Stadium.

Thursday, 15 October 2015 14:08

The Golden Generation is Crowned

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TUESDAY 13th OCTOBER: Cardiff City Stadium- a chilly autumn evening
WALES 2 ANDORRA 0 (UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Group B)
Five weeks on from that warm September afternoon when Chris Coleman's team drew 0-0 with Israel and didn't quite clinch their place at Euro 2016, we're back at Cardiff City Stadium. In that five weeks a lot has happened, apart from summer turning to autumn: Wales have played in Bosnia (and lost) but they have now qualified, thanks to Israel dropping points that mean they can't reach second place in the group. So tonight's game is without pressure - and it's widely anticipated as a time to party and celebrate. Of course, Wales want to avoid the embarrassment of failing to despatch the part-timers of Andorra, but everyone assumes that's a formality. Andorra have never won a competitive international - but we all remember that they came close in the very first game in this group, leading 1-0 until two late Gareth Bale goals set Wales on the path to glory.

Thursday, 15 October 2015 10:55

Goyts Go Top in the Non-Derby

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SATURDAY 10th OCTOBER: Glenhafod Park, dry but chilly.
GOYTRE UNITED 3 GOYTRE FC 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Division One)

No Welsh Cup or Trophy matches this week so it's an opportunity to catch up on some league action, and there is a stand-out fixture in south Wales, with the top two sides in the Welsh League, both unbeaten, coming up against each other at Glenhafod Park. It's the clash of the Goyts, but of course it's not a local derby: Goytre FC's journey (to Goytre) is actually one of their longer ones in the league, from their base in rural Monmouthshire to the outskirts of Port Talbot. It's the sort of fixture that should draw a good attendance, especially on a weekend with no English Premiership and Championship games due to the international break. In England and Scotland, the designated "Non League Day" is a cue for clubs to try to boost attendances with offers, but it doesn't really happen in Wales - partly because "non-league" doesn't have much meaning here, but also partly because our semi-pro clubs, especially in the south, just don't really think about attracting crowds in the way their English counterparts do. Not that it would have been easy to tempt many south Walians to local football today - everyone is seemingly gearing up for a long evening in the pubs watching the Welsh rugby and football teams in vital internationals.

Sunday, 04 October 2015 08:46

Aberdare avoid a cup shock

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SATURDAY 3rd OCTOBER. Cwmbach Rec. - dry, sun & cloud.
CWMBACH ROYAL STARS 0 ABERDARE TOWN 3 (JD Welsh Cup Round 1)
The problem with the First Round of the Welsh Cup is that there are so many games you want to see - several closely matched ones, a few potential giant-killings, some local derbies, the prospect of a few rare programmes. But one tie that has three of those elements gets my vote today: Cwmbach Royal Stars v Aberdare Town. Four divisions separate the South Wales Alliance Division One side from the Welsh League Division One visitors, whereas less than two miles separate their grounds; plus, Cwmbach have confirmed there's a programme.

Cwmbach lies just outside Aberdare at the top end of the Cynon Valley, and has a station conveniently served by the Aberdare line service from Cardiff. From the station, it's a stiff walk up through the village to the Recreation Ground, right at the top of the village with spectacular views across the valley to Aberaman, although today a hazy mist is lingering. A concealed drive leads up from the road to the changing rooms, which themselves sit well below pitch level at the foot of a steep slope. In such uneven terrain, the pitch is relatively level, though the grassy surrounds have plenty of rises and drops reflecting the natural slope.

Sunday, 27 September 2015 20:42

A Day of Firsts

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SATURDAY 26th SEPTEMBER: Parc Ynysderw, dry and sunny.
PONTARDAWE TOWN 2 CALDICOT TOWN 0 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Div 2)
A return to league matters a bit closer to home, after a couple of weeks of cup action in the north-east. Six weeks into the season tables are beginning to yield some clues to the season, and in the Welsh League Second Division Caldicot Town hold a 100 percent record after five games, and with the East Gwent side in action at Pontardawe's Parc Ynysderw, I can not only check out the new venue but also catch one of the league's in-form teams.

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