Connor's strike settles tightly fought contest and secures vital 3 points
1-0 win after tough battle vs Llanystymdwy
On Saturday we returned to league action following 2 weeks of cup games and once again, Cae Cynlas hosted the only game to survive the recent weather in the Gwynedd League with all other games off. The pitch, surprisingly after last weeks game and all of the rain in the week, was in great condition and once again credit must go to the ground-staff for their tireless work in ensuring the game was called on. The visitors this week were Llanystymdwy, a side capable of beating anyone in the league on their day and we knew what kind of game we were in for.
The game started with us kicking down field and it became apparent early on that this match would become a midfield battle as both sides worked hard in the opening stages to gain the upper hand without creating much. At the heart of our defence, Stephen Jenkins and Iwan Roberts were looking sharp and strong early on to thwart any Stymydwy attacks, in particular the threat posed by Sion Parry, and going forward Connor Rees was finding pockets of space in his more advanced position as we looked to break the deadlock early on. With little between the sides in the opening quarter, the game then opened up as chances began to fall for both sides and it was the visitors who had the first real chance of the game, a hopeful ball forwards found Sion Parry clean through on goal but he fluffed his lines and his shot was wayward. Andrew Jones and Gary Bolton had a frustrating start to the game up top for us, having been caught offside on a couple of occasions, but it was only a matter of time that the visitors high line would be breached and we almost had the opener from a move which caught out the Stymdwy back four. Matty Reynolds and Connor exchanged passes in midfield before Connor released Bolton down the left channel, he did well to skip by his marker and cut inside into the box, however, with Connor and Harper both in good positions, Bolton's cross was cut out at the front post and cleared away from danger. Our first chance seemed to be the catalyst for us to create more, Andrew's pace was causing problems for Stymdwy's number 4 and when he scampered away down the right it looked as though Bolton would have a tap in from 6 yards out but again the visitors scrambled the cross clear. Llanystymdwy continued to remain a threat when coming forward, and Al Williams and Adam Hallybone had their hands full down the left with the right back who kept on attacking but both coped well to nullify the threat. With both defences on top it seemed as though perhaps a moment of magic or a mistake would open up the game and it was the latter that almost cost Stymdwy as half time approached. A poor pass out from the back fell to the feet of Harper who played in Bolton on the one, he was just beaten to the ball by the keeper on the edge of the area, the loose ball fell to Ieu Lloyd some 25 yards out but with the keeper in no mans land he just couldn't get enough elevation on his shot and his effort was cleared to safety. Stymdwy were well in the game but failed to create any chances of note, a few set pieces dropped in good area but were dealt well at the back and we went in level at the break. 0-0 half time.
The second half started much like the first, with both sides giving little away and much of the game being played in midfield and you got the sense that the first goal would be absolutely crucial in the outcome of this match. After ten or so minutes gone of the second half we seemed to up the tempo and Ieu Lloyd started to see more of the ball with his forward runs down the right flank causing problems for the visitors. Two chances were created in quick succession for Bolton as we approached the hour mark, firstly he got on the end of a drilled cross in from Ieu but his effort was blocked by the defender who stuck tight to him and then Harper received a pass from Ieu on the edge of the box and flicked it around the Stymdwy centre back to put Bolton in on goal but he just dragged his shot wide when one on one with the keeper. If, after that chance, we sensed it could be one of those days, those fears were soon quashed as with just over an hour gone, the trusted left foot of Connor Rees broke the deadlock. A slick move down the left saw Adam and Al exchange passes and then releasing Andrew down the left, he had the presence of mind to pick his head up and play a square ball in from the left touchline, Connor ran onto it from midfield, his first touch taking him away from the defender and with the keeper bearing down on him, his shot was struck powerfully ad went through the keepers legs to give us the lead. Nath Moore was brought on from the bench not long after we took the lead and was straight into the thick of the action. Harper found him in space but his shot was just pulled wide and then he had a great chance following excellent work from Connor but his effort struck the side netting with some thinking it was in. At the other end, Gav was rarely troubled as Jenks and Iwan were in no mood at the back to give anything away and when the visitors did throw bodies forward for set pieces we coped well and defended bravely, with Adam on one occasion blocking one effort really well in the box. With Stymdwy pushing more and more men forward into attack, gaps appeared for us to counter and put the game beyond their reach but we couldn't get the second. Andrew was sent through by Harper who played a ball over the top, but his effort was deflected wide and from the resulting corner Jenks looked favourite to get his head to the ball but the visitors centre half managed to raise his foot and poke it away. Clear chances continued to fall but try as we might, we just couldn't get the second goal to kill the game off, from one set piece the ball fell through a ruck of bodies to the feet of Al in acres of space at the back post but he took elected to take a touch rather than shooting first time and the Stymdwy defence were able to pounce and block his effort. With 5 minutes to go, the away side threw caution to the wind in their search for an equaliser and everyone bar the keeper and a defender came up for a corner, Gav did well to punch clear and Jenks found Andrew in space down the left, a swift counter attack was on, and with Billy Kennedy and Nath Moore up in support, Andrew picked out Billy on the edge of the area, he took a touch and shot beyond the keeper only for the ball to come back agonisingly off the post. Llanystymdwy continued to press in the final few stages but we managed the game out well and took a vital 3 points. 1-0 full time, Man of the Match Connor Rees.
A vital 3 points in a tough encounter against a side who never give in and continue to plug away. We had the chances to kill the game off but having said that we also defended well and restricted the away side to very little by way of clear chances at Gav's goal. A clean sheet against Stymdwy is no mean feat as they posses good forward players in their ranks, and thats a second clean sheet in succession in games played under testing conditions. A mention to Connor who deservedly picked up the man of the match award along with his winning goal, an all action display from him, he covered a lot of ground, won headers and tackles all game and showed great composure for his goal. On Saturday its back to cup action, as we travel to Stymdwy, deja vu, for a quarter final tie.