TOWN VICTORIOUS IN LOCAL DERBY
Rhyl 3-5 Denbigh Town
Match report by Iwan Jones Photographs by Steve Whitfield
Denbigh went into the local derby knowing a win would bring them level on points with League leaders Caernarfon and they came out worthy winners of an enthralling game played in atrocious conditions at times.
With much of North Wales covered in snow, a pitch inspection at 10.00am had declared the pitch playable and credit should be given to the ground staff at the Corbett Sports Stadium for the condition of the pitch.
Manager Eddie Maurice-Jones was absent from the game as his partner Jade had given birth to a daughter late on Friday evening. Dewi Llion and Dan Reece took over the reins on the sideline. Liam Smith came into the side for the suspended Dan Sullivan.
As well as being a local derby the game had extra significance for Denbigh’s Josh Davies, Kristian Pierce and Rakim Newton as they were part of Rhyl’s squad last season. In Rhyl’s team their centre half Tony Davies had been with Denbigh at the same time.
Denbigh had two chances in the first five minutes with Gareth Partridge seeing his shot palmed away by Sarnowski in the Rhyl goal . A minute later Kristian Pierce put in a pass for Craig Pritchard to shoot but Sarnowski foiled the Denbigh attack again. Town were on top in the early stages with lots of possession but failed to make the breakthrough.
Rhyl had a great chance when Hill-Dunt in Denbigh’s goal rushed out to the edge of his area to intercept a long ball. In the challenge with Rhyl’s Phil Marsh, the ball broke free to be crossed in for Tom Walsh to fire wide from close range.
Rhyl were coming more into the game and Hill-Dunt was forced into making a tremendous save after a lob from Phil Marsh meant the keeper having to stretch to tip the ball up and then somehow juggle it back into his arms
The game was flowing end to end now with both teams looking for the breakthrough and it came Denbigh’s way on 34 minutes. Excellent play by Craig Pritchard down the right wing saw him cross with pin point accuracy to an unmarked Josh Davies and he was able to head home from 8 yards.
Minutes later Warren Duckett found himself in space on the left wing in Rhyl’s half. He cut in and approached the edge of the penalty area and unleashed a tremendous strike which flew into the net, almost a carbon copy of the goal he had scored two weeks ago against Caersws.
With a two goal lead just minutes from half time, Denbigh then lost concentration. Rhyl’s player manager Mark Connelly picked the ball up just outside Denbigh’s penalty area and was allowed to dribble his way into the area avoiding three tackles and fired home to make it 2-1.
Worse was to come two minutes later as Rhyl pumped a high ball into the box. Hill-Dunt went to gather but was impeded by his own defence as he went for the ball and it fell to that man Connelly to shoot home and the sides went in level at half time with everything to play for.
The second half started in appalling conditions with very heavy downpours. Rhyl adapted better at this stage and from a corner they took the lead when Phil Marsh took advantage of a goal mouth scramble and was able to blast in from 10 yards to make it 3-2 for Rhyl. Rhyl now had the impetus and almost broke through on goal but for Liam Smith to coolly make a great interception. Along with captain Ben Nash the young centre halves were making decisive and telling tackles at vital stages as Rhyl looked to extend their lead.
With 60 minutes gone Denbigh’s coaches looked to change things and bring Denbigh back into the game and Andrew Swarbrick replaced Warren Duckett.
Shortly after Matty Cook thought he had equalised when he latched onto a Kristian Piece pass only for his fierce drive to hit the cross bar and bounce over.
On 73 minutes Josh Davies had a shot across Rhyl’s goal and Tony Davies was forced into a desperate clearance for a Denbigh corner. From Gareth Partridge’s corner Rhyl cleared the ball only for it to land in the path of former Rhyl player Kristian Pierce who hit a thunderbolt volley from 20 yards which flew into the net giving Sarnowski no chance. His celebration was something else – a somersault worthy of a gymnastic competition.
It was now 3-3 with 15 minutes remaining and both sides were looking for the winner. Denbigh had an appeal for a penalty as Rakim Newton went into the box and was challenged and went to ground. Despite Denbigh’s appeals referee Jones thought it a dive and penalised Newton and booked him for simulation.
Denbigh’s fitness was showing in the latter stages and they were helped by the vociferous Denbigh supporters who sang throughout the second half to urge their team on for the winner against their close rivals.
With seven minutes remaining Pierce picked up a knock and was replaced by Corey Smart. He was immediately involved when an opportunity fell too quickly for him to control properly and his shot went wide.
Denbigh’s pressure was telling and Josh Davies was fouled just on the edge of Rhyl’s area. Joe Culshaw stepped up to send a wonderful curling shot over Rhyl’s wall which beat Sarnowski’s outstretched fingers and take Denbigh into a 4-3 lead with 2 minutes remaining.
Rhyl’s heads slumped and seconds later Josh Davies received the ball in the Rhyl area, turned quickly to outfox the defenders and gave himself space to fire in from 6 yards and give Denbigh the three points they richly deserved.
The game was a wonderful advertisement for the Huws Gray Cymru Alliance League. The quality of play and entertainment in such difficult conditions was of the highest order. As a local derby it was played in an excellent spirit and Denbigh can take great comfort in taking the win in a hard fought game.
Next up for the Town is another away game - this time against fourth placed Holywell Town on Saturday 16th December – kick off 2.30pm
Antoni Sarnowski, Tom Hartley, Tony Davies, James Brewerton (Capt), Alex Jones, Sam Downey, Jordan Barrow, Danny Holland, Phil Marsh, Mark Connelly, Tom Walsh Subs: Alex Titchiner, Tom Rowlands, Diego Alvarado, Aaron Dotse Pomieye, Tyler Joyce
Jon Hill-Dunt, Rakim Newton, Joe Culshaw, Liam Smith, Ben Nash, Matt Cook, Kristian Pierce, Gareth Partridge, Warren Duckett, Josh Davies, Craig Pritchard. Subs: Nathan Williams, Andrew Swarbrick, Corey Smart
Referee – Aaron Jones Deganwy
Attendance - 289