10th January 2015 – Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division
After a Christmas and New Year period where surprisingly I managed to watch the grand total of ZERO games either through postponed games or illness (and legitimate illness and not Christmas hangovers if that’s what you’re thinking), I was chomping at the bit to attend my first game of 2015 to make up for a lack of games during the festive period. After questioning which game to travel to on Twitter, a tweet came back from my mate Nick Owen (@NickOwen1) asking if I fancied watching his side Penyffordd play at the weekend, especially as he had now been brought back into the first team fold. Together with an encouragement from the Penyffordd Twitter account as well (@penyfforddfc), the decision was made – a trip to Penyffordd it was!
As you have read in previous blogs, this would not be the first time I have seen Penyffordd play this season as a few weeks prior to Christmas I had seen their Welsh National League match against Ruthin Town. That day they had been decimated by the home side as their defence was as watertight as a bottomless bucket, leading to a rampant Ruthin to dispatched them by the crazy scoreline of 9-4. Clearly I had caught Peny on “one of those days” and the performance did not give the true reflection of how decent the team was considering they were second in the league at the time. So I was interested to see how they fared on their home ground and if they had improved defensively since the first time I had seen them.
Penyffordd’s ground, “The Castle Ground”, is located in between the villages of Padeswood and Penymynydd-Penyffordd on the A5118 and next to the Castle/Hanson Cement factory, hence the name of the ground. Visitor parking is located on the right hand side as you turn into the Castle Cement complex and the entrance should be well before the security lodges. Once parked in the visitor car park, cross the road and head towards a white lodge next to a field which is opposite the car park. The lodge you’ll see is the Penyffordd clubhouse. Walk past the clubhouse and continue on the path past the first field and you will see the entrance to the football pitch that they use.
The ground is like many Welsh National League grounds in that there are no floodlights, although it does have dugouts and a fence surrounding the pitch. On the path side, there is a toilet block for supporters to use during the game although be aware as it could be locked (as mentioned later on). Good footwear is also recommended should you wish to walk around the pitch as it can be muddy especially if there has been a lot of rain previously.
There was no entrance fee to see Penyffordd although there was no programme to purchase either. Alas there was no club merchandise to buy either….maybe next time….
Going into this game, Penyffordd were going well in the league situated 3rd in the table and could have regained 2nd spot should they have won. However they had not played a game since that Ruthin game way back in December so they were eager to put that result behind them and put in a decent performance in front of their own supporters.
Their opponents Overton were having an average season by sitting 10th in the table, and suffered a 5-0 defeat to FC Nomads in their last league game way back in the first weekend of December. With both teams relatively “fresh” from having a lack of games over Christmas/New Year, and basing it on pre-Christmas form, on paper it looked like the match could be a home win!
Penyffordd played in their home kit of red & black striped shirts with black shorts and socks, whilst Overton played in their kit of lime green shirts with black shorts & socks also.
The first real chance of the match came after 5 minutes when Overton’s forward Danny Williams take full advantage of the hosts sluggish start and switching off at the back. He latched onto a long pass from midfield and slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the goal from outside of the penalty box to give Overton the lead. Yet again Penyffordd has conceded a very early goal, something I had seen when they had been heavily defeated against Ruthin Town!
Penyffordd 0 – 1 Overton
A few minutes after falling behind, Danny Barlow had Penyffordd’s first chance of the game when he latched onto a through ball from midfield and the opposition ‘keeper came flying out of his area to close the danger down. The goalie put enough pressure on Barlow to put off the attacker as Barlow could only manage to curl his chance wide of post.
Things were fairly even for the following 10 minutes as the hosts were eager not to conceded another early goal and Overton were happy to pass the ball around and probing the Peny defence. However events turned against Penyffordd when they went down to 10 men as forward Danny Barlow, who had missed their first chance, was sent off for reacting to a dangerous tackle by the Overton defender. Overton’s centre half threw a high kick challenge that caught Barlow on the chest (similar to Nigel de Jong’s challenge on Xavi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup final) leaving a visible stud mark and should have been given at least a yellow card for the offense, however the official seemingly only saw Barlow’s angry reaction. Despite Barlow’s protest for action against the Overton defender also, the referee sent the forward off much to his and his management’s frustration and gave the visitors a free kick.
Despite being a player disadvantaged, the hosts started to get an increasing influence in the game as their passing standard improved. They were holding onto possession much frequently than they had started the game at and forced their opponents to work harder to regain the ball. Yet again more evidence proving that playing against 10 men is sometimes harder than playing against a full 11. Penyffordd were starting to apply pressure on their opponents and managed a series of attacking corners against them. Their first corner was their best chance of the half at that point when a goal-bound header was deflected over the crossbar from the head of a Overton defender, with the second attempt on goal being easily cleared by the Overton defence.
Things turned in the favour of the hosts after 33 minutes when the game was evened up in terms of player numbers as Overton lost their player advantage by also having a player sent off. Their number 8 was dismissed for a high and very late dangerous tackle which looked nasty from where I was standing, and left the Penyffordd player needing some medical attention. No real complaints from player nor Overton management on that one!
With Penyffordd in the ascendancy and the momentum starting to swing their way, Overton almost caught them out on 36 minutes by nearly doubling their lead through a set piece. A long free kick from the right hand side of the pitch resulted in their attacker having plenty of space in the box, but he could only manage to send his header wide of the post. Overton’s missed chance proved costly as another set piece at the other end of the pitch, a minute after their opportunity, would prove decisive for Penyffordd. A counter attack from the hosts resulted in a corner, and from this set piece a well-placed corner was whipped into the box and met by Penyffordd’s number 10 Marcus Davies to nod in the well-deserved equaliser.
Penyffordd 1 – 1 Overton
Penyffordd almost got a second goal three minutes before the half time break. Another attack from the right flank saw their right back whip in long, arcing cross into the box. However the howling wind caught the airborne ball and veered it towards the visitor’s goal, which almost caught out Overton’s keeper as he stretched backwards to just tip the ball over the bar. Yet again the resulting corner came to nothing as The O’s defence managed to clear the set piece danger once again. That would be the final major chance of the half and both teams went into the break with 1 goal each and one player down.
HALF TIME – PENYFFORDD F.C. 1 – 1 OVERTON
During half time it was a brisk walk back to the clubhouse to get warmed up again after being blasted with biting cold wind throughout the first half. The clubhouse complex houses both the dressing rooms on the left hand side, and the supporters area on the right hand side. Cups of tea are sold from a serving hatch on the far right of the clubhouse for 50p, so naturally a cup was bought to help get the blood flowing again and I dived inside the clubhouse to slurp down the cup whilst watching the darts that was being shown on the TV in there. When I was there, the bar was closed so there seems to be an option to buy alcoholic drinks there – probably during the big games or function nights that are held at the clubhouse.
An attacking substitution was made by the Penyffordd management team prior to the second half starting as they brought on Danny Wynne to go upfront and give more firepower attacking wise. This would prove to be a vital decision in the course of the match!
Unfortunately I missed the start of the second half because the toilet block, which is located next to the pitch was all locked up even though I was told it was open when I was in the clubhouse at half time. This resulted to me having to sprint back to the clubhouse to make use of the facilities ensuring I missed the opening salvos of the second 45 minutes. Rather annoyingly I also missed a second Penyffordd goal during my shuttle run to and from the clubhouse and only caught Penyffordd still celebrating the goal with the game back to be restarted. Even more galling for me was that the goal scorer was young Nick Owen who could only shout in my direction “Where were you? You missed it!!” – sorry Nicko! Hopefully next time the toilet blocks will be opened during the games as that was annoying missing the goal! Now according to him, he scored after losing his marker at a corner and thundered the ball into the net from a front post volley. Whether this volley was a couple of yards out through a deft touch, or a Paul Scholes style thunderbolt from outside of the box is unknown to me but it sounded a decent goal either way!
Penyffordd 2 – 1 Overton
With the second goal going in, confidence was high with the hosts and they had another set piece chance on 54 minutes that could have made it three for the afternoon. A free kick from right hand side of the pitch was just volleyed wide by the substitute Wynne, after he had made himself some space in the Overton penalty area. At this point, if anyone was going to score next, it was going to be the hosts!
With over an hour played Overton managed a rare chance as they managed to earn themselves a corner against the run of play. Another decent delivery was volleyed by Overton’s number 10, but he could only manage to aim his shot into the keeper’s hands. Even though they were constantly on the back foot in the second half, the visitors’ set pieces were still causing problems for their hosts and if the equaliser was to come, it would have most likely have come through a set piece chance. Not long after the Overton chance, play was stopped as the referee required some medical attention after he seemed to tweak his hamstring. Although he managed to continue to complete the game, it was looking a perilous that the game could have been abandoned due to a lack of officials. This is because there were no linesmen at the game with the Overton manager holding the flag one side, and a young lad running the line on the opposite flank to make up for the missing assistant referees! That Welsh lower league football for you folks!!
On 73 minutes Penyffordd’s half time substitution would prove to be vital as substitute Danny Wynne finished off the game as a contest when he was put through on a one-on-one with the Overton goalkeeper. Despite pressure from the goalie who was bearing down upon him, and the worsening weather conditions becoming an increasing hindrance to play, he managed to coolly finish the chance by slotting the ball past the onrushing keeper and into the bottom corner of the net.
Penyffordd 3 – 1 Overton
Once Peny’s third goal had gone in, the game quickly fizzled out as a contest as Penyffordd were content with the scoreline and tried to keep possession whilst not giving their opposition any chances. Plus the wintery weather conditions and heavy pitch had ensured both teams had run themselves ragged and were happy to see the game out to a conclusion. The breeze was that cold, I had to stand next to the locked toilet block for the final ten minutes to actually block out the wind as I was freezing!! Those final ten minutes certainly seemed a long time….
FULL TIME – PENYFFORDD F.C. 3 – 1 OVERTON RECREATION
Overall the game wasn’t the best I have seen this season, and there were some aggressive challenges being made by both teams which resulted in the dismissal of two players and numerous yellow cards shown. However the quality of the game was a result of the windy conditions (which made it absolutely freezing viewing by the way) and the heavy pitch which had suffered from the torrent of rain during the week. It was your typical New Year game….
It was nice to see Penyffordd play a lot better than the first occasion I had seen them and I was impressed with a lot of their play. The way they fought their way back into the game after being a man and goal down should be highly commended, and you can understand why they were doing so well in the league this season. That win would put them up to second in the WNL table! Yet again they conceded another early goal in a game I have watched them and I think that is something they could work on by getting their defensive focus from the kick-off otherwise teams could punish them. As for Overton, I was impressed with some of their play first half and they were constantly had an attacking threat at set pieces throughout the game. Unsurprisingly they lost some focus and shape when they went down to 10 men but defended well when the hosts had the lion’s share of the possession and chances either side of half time, and conceded their third when they were pushing for an equaliser.
Finally I would like to thank Penyffordd for inviting me to the game, they are a great little club and hope they continue to go from strength to strength. Hopefully I will get the chance to head to Overton sometime in the future as they brought some decent support with them, look a solid team and it would be another ground to tick off the list! I wish both seams all the best for the rest of the season!!
Penyffordd’s match report: