SEVEN GOAL THRILLER AT CENTRAL PARK
Denbigh Town 4 Holyhead Hotspur 3 [ after extra time ]
A first class Welsh Cup game saw Denbigh came out top in a game which had it all – great goals, defensive mistakes, two players sent off, an injury time equalizer and Denbigh’s winner scored by substitute Warren Duckett. A great cup tie
This was always going to be an even affair as the teams stood next to each other in the League, Denbigh fourth and Hotspur fifth and the game did’nt disappoint.
A minutes silence was impeccably observed prior to the start in memory of young Liam Simpson, the Holywell FC Academy player so tragically killed last week.
The opening minutes saw Denbigh well on top with them playing with confidence and looking to extend their run of four wins on the trot. Kristian Pierce had an early chance to put in a telling cross but it was cut out for a corner. Gareth Partridge’s resulting corner was cleared by the Hotspur defence and they attacked in numbers and Hill-Dunt was forced to save well. The keeper’s distribution saw him send a pin point 70 yard ball to Nathan Williams only for his cross to also be cut out by the Hotspur defence
Despite Denbigh’s early pressure it was Hotspur who scored first and this was a result of Hill-Dunt making a poor clearance straight to Holyhead’s Chris Jones who fired past the diving keeper on 14 minutes.
Town looked to respond quickly and piled more pressure on the Hotspur back line. Chances fell to Craig Pritchard, Dan Sullivan from a freekick, Matty Cook from two shots which rebounded out and Josh Davies having a header just going over the bar.
Davies was proving a handful and was brought down midway into the Hotspur half on 27 minutes. Gareth Pritchard sent in a great cross which Dan Sullivan met with force from 10 yards and his header flew into the roof of the net to give Town a deserved equaliser. [ see pic ]
Denbigh were searching for their second and Nathan Williams, Cook and Davies all came close. At the other end Ben Nash was forced into a great block off Chris Jones’ free kick after Sullivan had been yellow carded for a late challenge.
Rakim Newton fouled Hotspurs’ Dean Garney on the edge of the box and the resultant free kick saw a real goalmouth scramble before Hill-Dunt was able to dive and smother the ball.
Just on half time Jake Eyre’s free kick from just outside the box beat the Hotspur wall only to go just wide of the goal so the teams went in at 1-1 after 45 minutes.
The second half saw Holyhead camped in Denbigh’s half for the first 10-15 minutes as they looked to get back into the lead. However it was from a Denbigh clearance that the ball came to Kristian Pierce. He turned left then right with the ball and fired in a powerful shot which flew past Pritchard in the Hotspur goal to give Denbigh a flattering 2-1 lead on 60 minutes.
Sullivan and Nash were now called upon to play some strong defensive challenges as Holyhead pressed for an equaliser. Hotspur’s Garney was having an increasing influence on the game and he was brought down by Nathan Williams on the edge of Town’s box. The resulting free kick came to nothing, but the warning signs were there and minutes later Hill-Dunt made amends for his earlier error by making a point blank save to thwart Hotspurs attack.
Denbigh’s management looked to play out the game now and tactical substitutions were made with Warren Duckett replacing the hard working Craig Pritchard and Andrew Swarbrick replacing Jake Eyre who had covered an enormous amount of ground throughout the afternoon.
The change worked against Denbigh as on 82 minutes Tomos Clarke of Hotspur rose to a cross and sent his header into the back of Town’s net to make it 2-2.
Towns’ reaction was first class as Gareth Partridge made his second assist of the game to make a great cross to Josh Davies on the far post and for his header to sail past Pritchard to give Town a 3-2 lead on 84 minutes .
Andrew Swarbrick then had an excellent chance to put the game beyond Holyhead’s reach with a shot that was well saved by Pritchard.
The game was now into injury time and Liam Smith came on for Davies with Denbigh looking to contain their lead. Once again it did not happen as Hotspur piled on the pressure and in the 94th minute another cross found that man Tomos Clarke at the far post again to head in the equaliser to make it 3-3 and bring on extra time.
Tension was building and tackles were flying in and referee Mr Livesey was forced to show yellow cards to Denbigh’s Duckett and Holyhead’s Garney. Then with 7 minutes of extra time gone, Kristian Pierce was tackled by Dan McGuiness and both fell to the ground. The assistant referee saw Pierce intend to kick at McGuiness and referee Livesey brandished a straight red card to Pierce – from hero to villain as Pierce had scored a cracker of a goal earlier in the game.
This seemed to spur the reds of Denbigh on and with 14 minutes of the first half of extra time gone, Gareth Partridge made his third assist of the game with another pin point cross, this time to the head of Warren Duckett whose header flew into the top corner of the net to make it 4-3 to Denbigh.
So Denbigh had 15 minutes to hold out. And still they looked for a fifth goal with Andrew Swarbrick proving to be a menace upfront. He had the ball on the Holyhead touchline and jinxed past Tomos Clarke who brought him to the ground unfairly and referee Livesey showed him a yellow card. This was Clarke’s second yellow of the game and so he was sent off – another case of hero to villain as he had scored two of Holyhead’s goals only now to be sent off.
With both teams down to 10 men and players tiring the game became more and more open in the dying stages and chances fell to both team. Neither could capitalise and it was with much relief for the Denbigh supporters that the final whistle came and Denbigh are through to the second round of the Welsh Cup.
It was a brilliant cup tie and a great advertisement for Welsh football. It was just a shame that only 75 spectators chose to witness the game – Town’s lowest crowd this season despite being on a roll with four wins on the run.
Jon Hill-Dunt, Rakim Newton, Nathan Williams, Dan Sullivan, Ben Nash, Matt Cook, Kristian Pierce, Gareth Partridge, Jake Eyre, Josh Davies, Craig Pritchard Subs: Warren Duckett, Andrew Swarbrick, Liam Smith
Paul Pritchard, Dan McGuiness, Kenleigh Owen, Corey Jones, Alex Jones, Tomos Clarke, Mike Kelly(Capt), Dean Garney, Mel McGuiness, Chris Jones, Ryan Taylor Subs; Reece Brown, Keiron Hilditch, Alex Boss, Mervyn Williams
Referee – Alex Livesey - Wrexham
Assistant – Ryan Hughes
Assistant – Nathan Wheatley
Attendance - 75