Great local derby Cup win for Denbigh
Rhyl FC 1 -2 Denbigh Town FC
Denbigh earned a well deserved Huws Gray Cymru Alliance League Cup victory over near rivals Rhyl in a captivating game at the Corbett Sports Stadium. This was an eagerly awaited fixture as both teams had seen managers and some players swop teams during the close season. Only a few months ago Matty Jones was manager at Rhyl with Eddie Maurice-Jones manager at Denbigh. Now Jones is at Denbigh as joint manager with Dewi Llion, and Maurice-Jones is in charge at Rhyl with another ex Denbigh manager Richard Williams Cooke as one of his assistants.
Rhyl named five ex Denbigh players from last season in their starting line up with Denbigh naming two ex Rhyl players – Sam Downey and Tony Davies – in their line up. Both teams were looking to put one over on the other team with so many common links between the clubs. Rhyl went into the game as firm favourites having had the better start to the season.
Denbigh welcomed new keeper Gwydion Owen to their ranks as regular stopper Craig Vernon was unavailable for the game. Rhys Llwyd was also unavailable and so Tom Jones started .With Alfons Fosu-Mensah failing a late fitness test, Jake Walker also stepped up. Mark Roberts and Miles Todd rejoined the squad after a short break.
It was Denbigh who started the brighter and within two minutes they were ahead. Sam Jones made great headway down the left wing, beat his man and fired a low shot which hit the far post and bounced out to Sam Downey who fired in from 10 yards with Jon Hill-Dunt well beaten.
Rhyl reacted immediately and Cai Owen crossed to bring out a fine stop from Gwydion Owen. James Stead then had an opportunity but his shot went well over the Denbigh crossbar.
Denbigh responded and Tom Jones did well and had his shot blocked before Lewis Sirrell hit over from 12 yards.
With the game was flowing from end to end, Rhyl equalised after 18 minutes when the ball found its way to the impressive Mike Pritchard who turned his defender just inside the penalty area and shot low across the Denbigh goal. Despite Owen’s efforts the well placed shot went into the corner of the net.
Rhyl now had their best spell with Pritchard proving a handful ably assisted by Owen. However the Denbigh defence was proving strong with Tony Davies and Curtis Langton making some tremendous interceptions. Sam Downey and Ross Weaver were having good spells in midfield and both covered acres of ground during the evening. Wing backs Bailey Jackson and young Scott McHarrie were comfortably controlling their opposing players and up front Denbigh continued to make chances.
Jake Walker fed Sam Jones who cut inside his defender again and shot but his attempt was saved by Hill-Dunt. The Rhyl keeper’s quick long clearance found Pritchard with some instant control and his one touch gave him a shot which was well saved by Gwydion Owen .
On 30 minutes Jake Walker broke through the Rhyl defence and rounded Hill-Dunt. However his goal bound shot was cut out by Reece Fairhurst’s block to stop Denbigh taking the lead. Minutes later Hill-Dunt thwarted the hard working Walker again, this time with a fine stop.
Rhyl had their chances – first with Pritchard’s glancing header going just wide, and then he once again turned his defender but this time his shot went wide of the post. Rhyl’s James Murray thought he had taken the lead for the Lilywhites when his weaving run ended with a shot which hit the post and bounced back into the arms of Gwydion Owen.
Minutes later Rhyl forced a corner which eluded the heads of everyone and fell to Kristian Pierce. The ex Denbigh man had time to pick his spot with a shot but for Tony Davies closing him down with a brilliant block.
With the game going into injury time of a pulsating first half Denbigh took the lead. Tony Davies played a pin point ball over the Rhyl defence for Sam Jones to run onto and blast past a despairing Hill-Dunt.
The second half started with Rhyl pressure again which Denbigh’s defence contended well with. Scott McHarrie made a stunning block as James Murray seemed through on goal. Just afterwards Sam Downey showed his fitness and strength and he burst through the Rhyl midfield to pass to Sam Jones on the right wing but the cross was feeble and cleared by Rhyl’s Max Peate.
Both management teams felt it was time for changes with Rhyl bringing on Barry Torrence for ex Denbigh midfield man Gareth Partridge. Just as Denbigh were about to make their substitution, Jake Walker was challenged heavily by Joe Culshaw in the Rhyl box and Denbigh players and supporters screamed for a penalty. Alas the referee and assistant waved away their claims.
On 63 minutes Mark Roberts came on for goalscorer Sam Jones who had proved to be a real thorn in Rhyl’s defence. Roberts was in the action straight away as he linked well with Scott McHarrie and Tom Jones to force a Denbigh corner. Lewis Sirrell’s well struck corner found Tony Davies running at speed and his header rattled against the bar with Hill-Dunt well beaten.
Rhyl introduced another ex Denbigh player – Aaron Hassall on 72 minutes as he replaced Kristian Pierce. A minute later Denbigh’s Ross Weaver went down and had to be replaced by Miles Todd. Since returning from an early season injury Weaver has been a play maker and the hope is this injury is not too serious.
Rhyl made their final throw of the dice with substitutions when Liam Chambers replaced ex Denbigh midfield general Matthew Cook on 83 minutes. A minute later their best player on the night Mike Pritchard was yellow carded for kicking the ball at Scott McHarrie who was lying injured and after the whistle had been blown.
Still Rhyl pressed for the equaliser with Denbigh playing a deeper and deeper game. Curtis Langton foiled an attack and broke through on a great run of 40 yards into the Rhyl half only for his shot to go just wide of the goal.
On 90 minutes Sion Jones replaced Jake Walker who had run his socks off for the Denbigh cause. Walker had been up front for large periods of the game on his own and had put in a great shift.
Rhyl were then reduced to 10 men as Joe Culshaw had to leave the field due to an injury and Rhyl had played all their subs. Seconds later they were down to 9 men as Mike Pritchard was yellow carded for the second time for a foul and he had to leave the field of play.
Denbigh now had to play out the six minutes of added time which they did and so record a well deserved win
A jubilant Matty Jones said after the game “What a brilliant result. The lads all worked so hard tonight and got their just rewards. The effort and commitment was second to none and both Dewi, Pete & I are so chuffed with the result and performance.”
Denbigh return to league games next week, with an away fixture against Holywell Town on Friday 21st September kick off 7.30pm
Jon Hill-Dunt, Joe Culshaw, Cai Owen, Max Peate (Capt), Reece Fairhurst, Matthew Cook, Kristian Pierce, Gareth Partridge, James Stead, Mike Pritchard, James Murray. Subs – Dan Sullivan, Barry Torrence, Aaron Hassall, Aron Pomeyie, Liam Chambers
Gwydion Owen , Scott McHarrie, Bailey Jackson, Curtis Langton, Tony Davies (Capt), Ross Weaver, Sam Jones, Sam Downey, Jake Walker, Tom Jones, Lewis Sirrell. Subs – Sion Jones, Miles Todd, Mark Roberts, Pete Lloyd