THE Welsh Cup returns this weekend with the third round of the competition kicking-off with some tasty clashes on offer. Two of Anglesey’s finest sides will be looking to pull off memorable wins against “bigger opponents”.
Hear what the players and managers from both sides (and Bangor City!) have to say ahead of their crucial matches here …
Game one: Bangor City v Holyhead Hotspur (below)
Where?: Nantporth Stadium, Bangor
When?: 7.45pm ko, Friday, December 7
Judging by the local rivalry vibe and previous meetings between these two sides, this cup tie has all the makings of a classic – but what do the players think ahead of such a big clash? Read on to find out …
With a previous encounter in the Huws Gray Alliance ending in a 1-1 draw, it’s hard to call just which way this one is going to go. Both teams enjoyed decent wins in the previous round of the Welsh Cup too. Hotspur progressed to the third round with a fine 3-1 win over Ruthin and Bangor destroyed Cefn Albion 6-1.
The Citizens’ experienced attacker Marc Williams is suspended for this match, but the likes of Alex Darlington and Jacob Farleigh will be dangerous. Meanwhile, Hotspur’s John Littlemore will return to face his former side and Luke McGivern and Harry Galeottiare always lively in attack.
Bangor will be the favourites to take the victory at home and new manager Gary Taylor-Fletcher will be looking to get his first win under his belt. Hotspur should provide a good test though and they certainly won’t make things easy for their opponents. I spoke to a few players from both sides prior to the match and here’s what they had to say:
Marc Williams, Bangor City. Attacker is missing the match through suspension but has been a key player for the club since signing from Llandudno in the summer …
“I’m disappointed to be missing the game through suspension but we will be looking to bounce back after last weeks defeat (against Rhyl.
“Holyhead gave us a good test earlier in the year with a 1-1 draw so we do feel we will have to be on our game to make it through, especially with it being a Welsh Cup match!
“A good cup run is what we need for everyone at Bangor, especially the fans.”
John Littlemore, Holyhead Hotspur. Former Welsh Premier League attacker with Bangor City and Cardiff Met Uni. Now, the 23-year-old is looking to come back to haunt his old team …
“Everyone’s buzzing ahead of Friday. It doesn’t get much bigger than a Welsh Cup fixture away to Bangor under the lights.
“We aren’t going there to make up the numbers we will set up to win the game, especially after a very positive performance away to Airbus last week who we matched for 80 minutes. We will take those positives from that game and go into Friday with nothing to lose.
“Personally it has been a frustrating first half of a season for me with injuries, but now I’m aiming to get back to full fitness and establish myself back in the team. I missed the earlier league fixture at Bangor due to injury so it will be nice to return to Nantporth after for what should be a good match in front of a big crowd.”
Mike Kelly, Holyhead Hotspur. Regarded as a legend at the club and has this season been managing The Reserves side in the Anglesey League (where he has also hit 13 goals!) alongside playing for the first team …
“Anything can happen in the cup and especially in a local Derby.
“We were disappointed not to get the win when we went there earlier on in the league season and drew 1-1, especially with the chances we created. They are a very good side and It will be a tough game. But we have got players in that dressing room that are more than capable of getting a result.
“It’s destined to be be another great tie and we’re expecting a great crowd on Friday night. Hopefully we can send our supporters home happy and be in the hat for the next round draw come Monday.”
Mel McGinness, Holyhead Hotspur. Has been at the club for several seasons now and always provides the goals …
“The players, staff and supporters have all been looking forward to the game since the draw. We are hoping we can continue our good cup runs which will then give us the confidence to turn our league form around as well.
“The Welsh Cup is always a massive competition for the players and the club too. I know the supporters will be there in numbers and full voice trying to get behind us to get the result they deserve for all the support they have shown so far this season.”
Game Two: Llangefni Town (below) v Llanelli Town
Where?: Cae Bob Parry, Llangefni
When?: 2.30pm, Saturday, December 8
This game could arguably be bigger than the Bangor City v Holyhead Hotspur one due to the “giant-killing” potential it has.
Llangefni Town, currently top of Welsh Alliance One, have lost just once all season but they will face their toughest test to date when Welsh Premier League side Llanelli Town come knocking on Saturday afternoon.
The home side have a strong defence and quite clearly a more than capable midfield and attack too but they will have to be at their very best to get something out of this tie. However, it could be coming at a good time as Llanelli are a club who have struggled on their return to Wales’ top flight.
The visitors have leaked goals this season (50 in the league) and have won just 3 times in 16 attempts. Whilst of course they are facing a team two leagues below them, they will have to be cautious of letting Llangefni attack too often as they have the ability to punish them. The likes of Liam Morris and Kevin Lloyd will be key players.
However, Llanelli themselves have danger men who can change a game too – former Swansea City man James Loveridge is a particular threat, having scored seven goal in the Welsh Prem this season.
This week, I had a chance to speak to Town’s manager Chris Roberts (below), who was evidently excited about the prospect of welcoming a top-flight team to the area.
“To draw a Welsh Premier side like Llanelli is fantastic and it gives us a chance to really test ourselves against a team from the top flight.
“Of course, we know that we will need to be at our very best if we are to get anything out of the game. We know the threats that Llanelli pose but come Saturday we will be ready and we will give it everything we’ve got.
“It will be a great occasion for the club and the town of Llangefni, I know our supporters will turn out in their numbers once again and get behind us, they have been outstanding ever since i came in a few years back and it’s great to see so many coming through the turnstiles on a Saturday to support us.
“I have seen the club come a long way in the last four or five years and it’s a credit to the hard work of all the committee members, staff and players involved with the club. The supporters are fantastic and really get behind the team and myself and the lads can’t wait to out in a performance for them on Saturday.”