Denbigh win in close local derby
Denbigh Town 1 - 0 Rhyl
Match Report by Iwan Jones
Photos by Roy Gunther and Steve Whitfield [ samples attached. Full album will be uploaded separately ]
Denbigh welcomed local rivals Rhyl for the first league fixture between the teams at Central Park for 27 years. A healthy crowd gathered at the ground on a warm spring evening and were entertained to a typical derby with both teams giving it their all to gain the points on offer.
Denbigh’s winner came from crowd favourite Craig Pritchard on 64 minutes as he blasted home from 8 yards.
This was Rhyl’s last game of their season and they stood in fifth position prior to the game on 47 points, three points behind Denbigh who had played three games less than their opponents. Denbigh’s aim has always been a top six finish this season and they now look to exceed this target by now aiming for a top three placing.However Town manager was forced to make some changes to his squad due to key players being unavailable. Matty Cook was away on holiday, Ben Nash was away on a football academy training course at Real Madrid, and Warren Duckett had a groin strain. Nevertheless their stand ins – Joel Hewitt , Corey Smart and Kristian Pierce more than stepped up to the mark with three excellent performances.
The contest started evenly with both teams having close attempts at goal. Town’s Joe Culshaw was a threat on the Rhyl goal with his precision at taking dead ball kicks proving to be a great Denbigh attack plan.
Rhyl had the better of the early opportunities when from their free kick the ball was floated into the area and ex Denbigh centre half, Tony Davies was unlucky to see his header land on the top of the Denbigh net rather than inside it.
Corey Smart unleashed a fierce drive for Town that just went over the Rhyl bar as Denbigh came more and more into the game with their possession and keep the ball philosophy.
Culshaw had three free kicks from the Rhyl half of the pitch and all three were dangerous crosses but no forward could get on the end of them. The fourth one he had came to Matt Worrall and Worrall had time to shoot but was thwarted by a well positioned Rory Crowther in the Rhyl goal.
Gareth Partridge then got on the end of Culshaw’s next kick only for his header to go wide of Crowther’s goal. Dan Sullivan was then on the end of Culshaw’s cross but his header went over the bar.
A scramble just before half time saw Craig Pritchard hit his shot against the post and bounce away to safety.
Despite Denbigh having the better chances in the first half it was still an even affair as the teams went in at half time 0-0.
The second half continued as the first with both teams looking for the breakthrough. Rhyl’s Dan Holland had a shot then went just over the bar and minutes later Kristian Pierce did the same for Denbigh.
Rhyl had a penalty shout turned down by referee Livesey on 63 minutes when Holland’s shot was blocked at point blank range by Rakim Newton just inside the penalty area. Play was waved on much to the dismay of the Rhyl players and supporters.
Next minute Denbigh were ahead when following a poor clearance by Crowther in the Rhyl goal, Pritchard pounced on the loose ball and headed goalward into Rhyl’s area , found Worrall who played the ball back to the inform Pritchard who struck low and hard past Crowther to give his team the lead.
Pritchard has had a terrific season with Denbigh and become a firm favourite at Central Park. His close ball control means he is a defender’s nightmare and he has seemingly endless energy.
Now with the one goal lead Town looked to consolidate and their defence came into their own with Liam Smith, Dan Sullivan and Joel Hewitt working well together and forming a good understanding. So much so that as the game moved into its final stages Rhyl’s chances were few and far between and they did not threaten Keighan Jones’ goal until the 86th minute when Rhyl’s Phil Marsh beat Jones to the ball and looped it over the keepers arms only for Joel Hewitt to be well placed to clear the danger from under his crossbar.
Worrall and Pierec were both replaced in the latter stages by Andrew Swarbrick and local lad Andy Thomas. Swarbrick had a strong penalty claim turned down when he was challenged heavily in the box but Mr Livesey shook his head and waved play on.
As the game went into injury time, as Denbigh were playing a little too deep, Rhyl had a great chance to equalise when sub Mark Connolly shot from a free kick which Dan Sullivan blocked with his head only for the ball to find Rhyl’s Tony Davies who headed over.
Seconds later the final whistle blew and Denbigh had won and also done the double over their Denbighshire rivals. Town have now claimed the highest position of any of the three Denbighshire teams in this season’s Huws Gray Cymru Alliance.
Moving forward, they know a win away at Guilsfield on Saturday 21st April will put them in 2nd position with two games then still to play. Kick off is at 2.30pm
Keighan Jones, Liam Smith, Joe Culshaw, Dan Sullivan, Joel Hewitt, Corey Smart, Rakim Newton, Gareth Partridge, Matthew Worrall, Kristian Pierce, Craig Pritchard. Subs; Andrew Swarbrick, Andy Thomas, Eddie Maurice-Jones, Jon Hill- Dunt
Rory Crowther, Jason Jeffries, Tom Hartley, Tony Davies, Will Bell, Michale Walsh, Sam Downey, Dan Holland, Aaron Domeyie, Phil Marsh, James Murphy. Subs; Mark Connelly, Liam Langford, James Brewerton, Jack Parry-Jones
Referee – Alex Livesey - Wrexham
Assistant – Glenn Gray
Assistant – Nathan Wheatley
Attendance - 190