Both Denbigh Development and Henllan were eagerly looking forward to Saturday's local Vale of Clwyd and Conwy derby match and there was an extra interest when the teams were told they they were on the first team pitch. The fixture attracted a larger than normal crowd for such a game and there was a good family atmosphere at Central Park as things got under way.
Not unsurprisingly the young Development team, with a large sprinkling of 16 and 17 year olds, showed a few nerves and did not quickly settle. Henllan's Alex Thomas completed the first attacking move but shot over the bar whilst under pressure from 16 yr old Harri Jones the Denbigh centre back. Henllan pressured the youngsters and from a corner on six minutes the visitor's centre half Liam Davies rose higher than every one else and powered the ball into the net to put them in the lead. Denbigh tried to get back into it and there was a good battle going on down the left wing between Alfie Harrison also 16yrs and the Henllan's right back Dylan Ford. However when the ball came across field and sat up nicely for Henllan's Owen Roberts he put the ball away to give the visitors a two goal lead on thirty two minutes. Things were not looking good for Denbigh at this time and it was character and determination that was going to keep them in the game. To their credit, after conceding two, they began to play better football and managed to keep the ball better. They got their reward just before half time when 17yr old centre forward Joel Rowlands turned his marker and hit a left footer low into the corner of the goal well out of the reach of keeper Nathan Thomas [ brother of forward Alex ]. Denbigh 1 Henllan 2 at the break and all to play for.
During the second half it was a tough battle with both teams determined to show their watching family and friends what they could do. Ten minutes in Matty Williams thought that he had levelled things but his shot hit the post and squirmed agonisingly along the goal line. With midfielder Josh Jones [ pictured ]working very hard in the middle for Denbigh and at the heart of everything good they continued to attack. Rob Lawson came close with a good drive and Nathan Thomas did well to keep his shot out. Denbigh's second goal came on sixty five minutes. The impressive Harrison collected the ball on the left and drove directly into the box. It looked like he had taken the ball too wide but somehow he found a gap between Nathan Thomas and his near post to make it 2 -2. Game on ! It was end to end stuff as the contest progressed and veteran Kev Davies nearly scored for Henllan but his effort came back off the post. In the last ten minutes it was clear both teams were tiring but Denbigh were now in control and looked for that winner with the coaches urging the ball forward. Harrison and Lawson had chances but Henllan always looked dangerous on the break and Denbigh keeper Tommy Hughes pulled off a great stop with a one on one against Alex Thomas who had troubled Denbigh all game.
A fair result at the end, 2 - 2 with honours even.
An excellent performance from the Development side, it has to be said, and Denbigh Town need to keep hold of these lads as they will certainly feature in senior sides as they mature.
Well done. Great show!