Town exit cup to late goals.
Denbigh faced a tough away trip to Welsh Premier League Bangor City’s Nantporth Stadium in the first round of the Nathaniel MG Cup – formerly The Word Cup.
This was on the back of a heavy defeat at Caernarfon a few days earlier, and they needed an encouraging display against a City team that had appeared in the Europa League qualifiers a few weeks earlier and are currently fourth in the Welsh Premier League.
It was a much better performance from Town, who changed their formation after Saturday and this gave them a better balance with the midfield being strengthened by Craig Pritchard returning from suspension and new signing Steve Cunningham making his debut.
Bangor started the game with most possession in the early stages but the Denbigh defence held strong and was comfortable. Denbigh came into the game more and Craig Pritchard played a low ball into the area which just eluded the outstretched Warren Duckett. Gareth Partridge played a cross which met Josh Davies’ head but was deflected for a Town corner.
The game was developing into an end to end game now and Bangor forced a corner, which Denbigh cleared and broke with Josh Davies collecting the ball from half way to force his way into the City penalty area to shoot and bring a fine save from keeper Hall diving to his right hand side.
City’s George Harry then forced Hill-Dunt to a save diving to his left, and just after Town’s captain Ben Nash made a great tackle in his own penalty area to breakdown another City attack.
On 18 minutes Denbigh took the lead when Josh Davies ran onto an exquisite ball from Steve Cunningham as Denbigh broke out of defence in numbers. Davies composed himself and fired past the arms of Hall to give Denbigh a deserved lead.
The lead did not last for long as on 23 minutes from a corner City’s Anthony Miley rose the highest to head into the Denbigh net to make it 1-1.
Denbigh responded well and after some intricate play from Davies and Partridge, Warren Duckett was unlucky to see his header go just over the Bangor goal. Craig Pritchard then did an amazing turn in the City penalty area to send the Bangor defenders the wrong way only for his shot to go just wide of the post.
On 39 minutes Denbigh took the lead and Josh Davies put in some sterling work down the right hand side beating a defender and firing a low cross which was deflected by Anthony Miley past his own keeper Hall for an own goal. This was just rewards for Davies who was proving to be a real threat up front.
Half time came with Denbigh 2-1 up and manager Eddie Maurice –Jones and his coaching staff were pleased to see the positive reaction by their players following Saturday’s Caernarfon defeat.
Bangor’s tactics changed in the second half as they introduced Danny Holmes for Paul Connolly and they had the better of the early stages. Town’s Ben Nash and Anthony Sullivan were coping well with all Bangor could put at them ably helped by fullbacks Nathan Williams and Gareth Partridge. Craig Pritchard was booked as he lunged into a tackle. Pritchard was then at the receiving end of a vicious tackle from a Bangor forward that went unpunished by the referee. The result was Pritchard having to be substituted by Jake Eyre and Town had to reshape themselves.
Bangor continued to press and Hill-Dunt was forced into two reflex saves one after the other. Minutes later he made a tremendous save from close range and he was relieved to see the rebound sail over his bar. Denbigh’s management team looked to bring fresh legs on with Sam Tate replacing the hard working Warren Duckett who is coming back to first team football after a long spell away from the game following a knee operation.
With City’s crowd becoming a little agitated Bangor also made changes and these were to prove decisive with Anderson Cayola and Braydon Shaw coming on for George Harry and Sam Henry. Five minutes later on 73 minutes Dean Rittenberg broke free from Denbigh’s offside trap to fire a shot past Hill-Dunt’s left hand side to give Bangor their equaliser.
Denbigh still looked to go forward as Matt Cooke laid a fine ball onto the run of Jake Eyre who shot just over the angle of Bangor’s goal. Minutes later Eyre was involved in a head collision which forced him off the pitch having lost one of his contact lenses. Denbigh were down to 10 men for a period of 5 minutes and in this time City capitalised and Rittenberg fired in his second goal on 81 minutes after good play down the Bangor right wing. 3-2 for Bangor.
David Lawson-Cooke replaced Eyre as Town continued to get back into the game by pushing men forward. This would inevitably lead to risks having to be taken in defence and it was a poor ball out of defence that saw Rittenberg get his hat trick as he was fed through for his third and Bangor’s fourth goal.
Then on the last kick of the game Rittenberg scored his fourth goal giving Bangor a very flattering 5-2 win
Denbigh will take a great deal of heart out the performance as they battled throughout and were leading up until 73 minutes. Bangor’s substitutions made a difference when their key first team players were introduced. Nevertheless Denbigh’s players put in an excellent shift with much endeavour and purpose to their game.
There is now an International break and they return to Huws Gray Cymru Alliance League action on Saturday 9th September when they welcome Llandudno Junction to Central Park – kick off 2.30pm
Matthew Hall, Cai Owen, Anthony Miley, Paul Connolly, Sion Edwards, Steve Hewitt, Dan Gosset, George Harry, Luke Wall, Sam Hensy, Dean Rittenberg. Subs Connor Roberts, Danny Holmes, Tom Kennedy, Braydon Shaw, Anderson Cayola
Jon Hill-Dunt, Gareth Partridge, Nathan Williams, Dan Sullivan, Ben Nash, Matt Cook, Craig Pritchard, Steve Cunningham, Warren Duckett, Josh Davies, Alan Bull Subs: Jake Eyre, David Lawson-Cooke, Sam Tate