PICTURE BY TREVOR OWEN SHOWS CELTS HAT-TRICK HERO JAC JONES (GREEN) CHASING DOWN CAERGYBI’S ASHLEY BECK
AS USUAL, the NWCFA Junior Challenge Cup action didn’t disappoint on Saturday afternoon.
The prestigious tournament returned for the first time since early 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic began to take its toll on football in Wales.
The last winners of the cup were Bro Goronwy who beat Bryngwran Bulls 3-1 in Bethesda back in 2019 – goals from Taylor Jones, Callum Thomas and Dylan Jones securing them the trophy for a third time in the club’s history.
This season however we should find ourselves another winner come May/June time!
Here’s how the first round action unfolded on Saturday …
Talysarn Celts pulled off one of the shocks of the round as they hand tier five title rivals Caergybi their first defeat of the season in style – beating them 9-2 at Gloddfa Glai.
The last time these two faced off in the league it ended in a 1-1 draw and went a long way towards showing that these two would battle it out for the league title this season alongside the likes of Llanerchymedd.
But Saturday went massively in the favour of the Celts who were superb on the day and inflicted Caergybi’s heaviest defeat by far since the club was formed in 2017.
Goals from captain Jac Jones (11’) and Rhys Jones (13’) saw them come flying out of the blocks before the skipper made it 3-0 from the penalty spot on 21mins.
Goal machine Louis Chapman (below) pulled one back two minutes later for Cybi but a goal from Rhodri Jones made it 4-1 moments later. Two more goals from Garem Jones and a hat-trick sealer from Jac Jones followed before half time to give the Celts a commanding half time lead.
In the second half, Garem Jones scored on 66 mins before Gary Jo Owen pulled another goal back for the visitors.
Owain Griffiths then saw red for Caergybi with 20mins to go before goals from Jac Usher and Rhodri Jones completed an emphatic scoreline to see the home side through to the next round in incredible fashion.
Fellow North Wales Coast West Division One Club Bodorgan advanced with an impressive 4-2 win at Penrhyn Bay Dragons.
Connor Rees and top scorer Steven Jones scored in the opening 15mins to hand Bod a 2-0 lead before a James Farrell penalty on the half-hour mark reduced the deficit.
Farrell then equalised on 51mins but the Dragons’ joy was short-lived as a Geraint Jones penalty and a Keenan Latham goal three minutes apart turned the tie on its head with 15mins to go before Jamie Seager was sent off for the home side. A great win for Bod!
Joining them in the next round are Cemaes Bay who impressed by beating Abergele 4-1.
The visitors took the lead through a clinical finish from Swedish forward Anthonio Zoezee on the half hour mark before Keenan Downey equalised moments later for the Bay cutting in from the right hand side and smashing the ball home.
A fantastic through ball from midfielder Taylor Jones found the in-form Matty Reynolds who scored to make it 2-1 just before the break.
Abergele started brightly in the second half once more and kept Cemaes keeper Dan Jones busy. But, it was the home side who eventually found that crucial two-goal cushion after hitting the bar through Reynolds
A great piece of link-up play between Downey and Matty Roberts saw the latter slip through in on goal and he finished for 3-1. The game was done and dusted late one when Luke McKittrick latched onto a rebound for the fourth and final goal.
There was no such luck for fellow islanders Y Fali Holyhead Town however as both crashed out 6-1 to their respective opponents.
Fali were defeated at home by Llanelwy Athletic in a match which saw three red cards dished out by referee Gareth Parry.
Goals from Steven Kirk and Jordan Rowlands had put the visitors 2-0 up heading into the break, but Morgan Rowlands scored for Fali on the stroke of the half time whistle to give them hope.
Llanelwy came out battling in the second half though – despite being reduced to 10-men when Tom Montgomery was dismissed 52mins in.
A rapid response from them saw Daniel Porter (58’) and Rowlands again (60’) put them 4-1 up before Rowlands completed his hat-trick six minutes later.
Shane Thomas added his side’s sixth goal of the game to the scoreboard before Rowlands missed a penalty and both stand-in keeper Wesley Jones (below) and defender Jack Halton were sent off for Fali in a frantic ending to the game.
Holyhead Town were beaten by the same scoreline when they travelled to Rhyl All Stars with one man in particular stealing the show in that match.
Talented young forward Harrison Bellis, 19, just five of his side’s goals with Joe Smith scoring the other to complete an incredible fight back after Town had been ahead early on through James Ryan’s penalty.
Mountain Rangers overcame a stern test against CPD Y Glannau, beating their opponents 3-2 after extra time.
Stuart Cooke fired Rangers in front in St Asaph after just eight minutes before Aled Rice doubled their advantage two minutes later. But Glannau fought back well and a Jake Reddaway brace ensured it was 2-2 at the break.
It was a real end-to-end encounter between two similarly matches teams and so it was little surprise that it went to extra time after Rangers had to play the last 20mins with 10-men after Darren Hughes limped off and they had already used all subs.
But they were of course allowed and extra subs in extra time taking them back to 11 men and it was they who emerged victorious in the end and in dramatic fashion too. The brilliant Dewi Cooke raced down the wing before crossing to captain Gavin Owen (below) who provided the winner.
Finally, Llanerchymedd edged out a seven goal thriller v Llangoed at Tan Parc coming out on top with a 4-3 win.
Club legend Wayne Thomas put Llangoed shed on 15minw before a Mark Jones equalised instantly for Medd. A Gwion Thomas goal – his 9th of the season – put the home side ahead before the break.
Hari Jones was dismissed on the hour mark for Medd before Anthony Williams scored to put Llangoed ahead once more from the penalty spot. But again Medd hit back instantly this time through powerful forward James Burgess.
In a tense encounter, Mark Jones made it a brace on 70mins to put Medd two goals ahead before a goal from Llangoed debutante Aled Jones set up a nervy finish as Medd hung on to advance.
Other results from NWCFA Junior Challenge Cup round one …
Cerrigydrudion 2 Llandudno Amateurs 4 (After Extra Time)
Henllan 8 (Alex Ballard 4’, 48’, Alex Thomas 11’, 83’, Sam Davies 47’, 57’, Alex Lewis 52’, Steffan Jones 65’) Betws-Y-Coed 2 (Shawn Snape 10’, Luke Snape 76’)
Llanystumdwy 3 (Robat Griffiths 42’, Iolo Jones 75’, Sion Guto Jones 79’) Waunfawr 3 (Adam Jones 16’, 90’, Josh Williams 18’) – Llanystumdwy won 4-2 on penalties
Llysfaen 0 Bethesda Athletic 5 (Cameron Robertson 43’, Mike Lundstram 48’, 78’, 90’, Tom Hughes 72’)
Rhos United 6 (Oluwafemi Allison 20’, 65’, Ben Wheeler 25’, 83’, Adam Noble 32’, Lewis Sealey 42’) Bethesda Athletic 1 (Llyr Roberts 68’)
Rhyl Dragons 1 (Kelvin Berks 30’) Cefni 0