Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division 1 – 21st March 2015
As I have been stating for a few weeks now, this weekend was supposed to be a trip down to Caersws to watch my team Holywell Town take on Abergavenny Town in the FAW Trophy semi-final match. However a blunder on my planning where I thought a wedding was happening the following week but was actually taking place on the same weekend as the huge cup game meant that the trip down to mid-Wales just wasn’t a viable option. I wouldn’t have had enough time to get down to Caersws and then get back in time (90 minutes to get down there by car from Holywell) for my evening event (which I really did not want to miss), not to mention I went out to Chester the previous night for a friend’s birthday meant the odds were well and truly against me….yep I was a bit gutted not to be going to support The Wellmen but I was missing the game for ultimately acceptable reasons!
Although my condition was less than stellar after feeling the effects of the birthday drinks the night before, I had enough time to watch a very local game before the wedding night do began in the evening. During our night out in Chester, a few of us were discussing a number of local options that could be visited in the time allowed. My mate Simon said he wanted to watch C.P.D. Caerwys play as his younger brother Chris currently plays for them, and he hadn’t been able to go up watch him play in a long time. As their ground is only 15 minutes down the road from HQ, and Simon said he would drive, the location was set for Saturday afternoon’s visit. It wouldn’t be Caersws but the similarly sounding Caerwys.
Caerwys is a small market town in the far west of Flintshire, located roughly 6 miles south west of Holywell, 7.5 miles east of St. Asaph and 8 miles north east of Denbigh. It is situated just under two miles from the A55 North Wales Expressway and one mile from the A541 Mold-Denbigh road. The town’s team is C.P.D. Caerwys and they play at Lon yr Ysgol in the west of the town. The ground is near to the historical parish church of St. Michael and located next to the town’s primary school Ysgol yr Escob on a community used field. As a result of this, there are no turnstyles nor permanent stands, floodlights or guardrails (using the common method of cord and posts to segregate the playing area and standing area) but there are a couple of small dugouts as well as a newly built clubhouse at the far end of the pitch. As with other clubhouses in the leagues, it houses the changing rooms for teams and officials, and has food and toilet facilities available for supporters. There is also a mini pitch between the main pitch and the primary school which can be used for the teams to warm up prior to the match.
Caerwys were doing well in the Welsh National League Division 1 table on the whole, located in 5th position (in a thirteen team league) with a points total of 31 points. The club had a great start to the campaign winning 7 out their first 8 league games, however they were going through a bit of a rough period prior to this match as they had not won in their last three games (four if you included their postponed match against Argoed United in mid-February) with their last victory coming against the Wrexham based team Lex Glyndŵr in a 3-0 home win on Valentine’s Day. Their last match prior to this game was a heavy away defeat against local rivals A.F.C. Brynford, where they got demolished 5-0. Therefore they were not coming into this match with a whole lot of confidence.
Their opponents for the afternoon, Penley, were not having such a great season in the league as they were positioned 10th in the league with just 20 points this season. They were also coming into the game on the back of a big defeat, after being defeated 1-4 at home to Argoed United. However over their past five games, they were on better form than their opponents as they had picked up two wins and a draw with their last win coming the first weekend of March in a 3-2 win over Acrefair Youth. Unfortunately for Penley, history would be going against them as the reverse fixture on the 6th September saw them defeated 2-3. Plus they would be struggling for this game as they would be arriving at Lon yr Ysgol with just 1 substitute and a patch up squad, as their manager told us that SIX of their regular personnel were away in the Netherlands on a stag do! Certainly not the most ideal preparation for a match!!
Myself and Si (although not Greg who bailed on the trip due to a bad hangover) arrived in Caerwys just after 2pm and parked up in the layby just outside the picturesque church at the junction of Lon yr Ysgol, as there were plenty of parking space there and within walking distance of the ground. The conditions were excellent for a game as there was hardly a cloud in the sky and very warm temperatures for a mid-March afternoon up in the North Welsh hills. Entrance to the field is a short walk up the road from the church and past the primary school and there is no entrance fee because the pitch is not permanently enclosed. Unsurprisingly there was no programme being sold but then again I wasn’t expecting any to be produced due to unwarranted production costs.
When we arrived, the Caerwys lads were already warming up on the mini pitch beside the main pitch, so we walked down to the opposite side of the pitch and headed towards the clubhouse for a cup of tea. The clubhouse sells all the usual refreshments and snacks you would expect to see on a normal groundhop visit, and for cheap prices as well. A cup of tea (served in a mug) cost just 50p = bargain! We had a bit of a chat with some of the Caerwys committee members who were helping out there whilst slurping down the tea, as well as commenting on the 6 Nations rugby matches that were going on during the match. “Wales have surely done enough to win the title!” we proclaimed with some confidence…..well you know the result of that prediction….
We then positioned ourselves behind the goal nearest the clubhouse whilst the teas were sunk waiting for the game to start whilst enjoying the warmth of the spring sunshine. It was also noted that only the referee had turned up for the match and that volunteers would be needed to be the assistant referees for the afternoon. This wasn’t an uncommon sight for me during my groundhop travels as I had previously seen this happen in the Penyffordd match in January. Therefore one of the Caerwys volunteers manned the dugout touchline and the sole Penley substitute would man the flag on the opposite side of the pitch.
Whilst waiting, Si’s brother Chris came over to where we were standing and said that he wouldn’t be starting the game and was on the bench, not knowing why he had been dropped for the match. I think Si was a little bit disappointed not to see his little brother start as he’d made the effort to finally come up and see him play, but then again that’s just typical for football isn’t it? With both Hoey brothers a little disappointed prior to the start of the game, I was hoping we would see an exciting game to make up for Chris not starting. Alas I would be disappointed on this wish too…
Caerwys were in their home kit of red shirt with white trim, red shorts and socks, whilst Penley wore their home kit of blue and black striped shirts, with black shorts and socks.
The first 15 minutes of the half were not the best quarter of an hour of football I have seen this season and easily forgettable as neither team committed too much early on. Both Caerwys and Penley were testing each other’s defences cautiously whilst the opening salvos of midfield battle were considerably even with neither side getting the early upper hand as possession kept constantly being conceded to the other side on a regular basis. It was a gritty start to the half which made me think that this match could potentially become the first goalless draw I would see this season…
Thankfully the first chance of the match arrived and it went to the home side about 15 minutes into the match as their midfielder #11 picked up a pass outside of the penalty box and hit it towards goal on the volley. It was struck with power but not enough accuracy to take it past the keeper, who comfortably gathered up the volley as it was fired into his arms. Penley almost got their first chance after 17 minutes when their #3 managed to break clear of the Caerwys defence, but he was adjudged to have been caught out by the offside trap and declared offside. Two minutes later, Penley would have their first real effort on target when a through ball over the home defence from the Penley midfield allowed #9 to break free and surge towards goal. However the through ball was a tad heavy to run onto and the goalkeeper managed to successfully gather up the ball and eliminate the threat. Caerwys would come closer to breaking the deadlock when they almost scored from a corner when their #9 could only managed to blaze his effort wide after the ball had been half-cleared out of the penalty area by the Penley defence.
After 21 minutes, the breakthrough in the scoring finally came and it would be the visitors who would take the lead. A long free kick from the right was fired into the penalty box, which was flicked on by a player (either a Caerwys or Penley player – it was difficult to determine) and found its way to Penley’s #7 who had acres of space on the far side of the 6 yard box. Gambling on winning the 2nd ball from any potential header in the middle of the penalty area, he took full advantage of the time and space to tap in a dribbling shot past the helpless goalkeeper into bottom left hand corner of the net. There were a few appeals from the Caerwys players that #7 could have been potentially offside when the ball was flicked into his path but they were dismissed by the official who awarded the goal to the visiting team.
Caerwys 0 – 1 Penley
Three minutes after they had opened the scoring for the afternoon, Penley came very close to doubling their lead after a poor clearing punch from the Caerwys goalkeeper. A free kick from Penley’s #4 was fired into the Caerwys penalty area and the keeper managed to leap the highest to meet the ball first with a flying fist. His punch did not get the desired distance as it arced high into the air and back into the danger area where Penley’s #10 was the highest jumper in the area and got a header to the descending ball. #10 neatly nodded the ball in the direction to his teammate #9, who had plenty of space but with his back to goal tried an audacious overhead bicycle kick on the volley. Despite his best efforts, he could only scuff the gently lofted ball and it went out for a goal kick. Danger averted for the home side!!
Penley were in the ascendancy and looking more likely to snatch the second goal of the afternoon and had two additional chances to get a two-goal cushion. Firstly on 27 minutes, a looped ball into the Caerwys penalty area, flicked on from a long throw-in almost caught the home keeper completely unawares as the ball sailed over his head and looked destined to settle into the bottom right hand corner of the net. However the ball seemed to just deflect off the inside of the far post and rebound back into the keeper’s hands much to his relief. Four minutes later and the visitors would have another attempt on goal, this time from a long range effort from their #10. Despite great movement to create the space for the attempt, his accuracy was not on par with his movement on this occasion as he saw his shot fly past the upright.
On the 33rd minute, Caerwys would punish their opponents on their missed opportunities when they managed to work their way back into the match and grab the equaliser through an excellent finish. The left back #3 had great awareness to spot the run of #7 cutting infield and hit a long ball from the defence to the right winger. #7 successfully held onto the accurate pass and drove into the Penley box from the right, and with space opening up in front of him, managed to drive the ball between the defenders and past the goalkeeper into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. An superb finish from the right midfielder!!
Caerwys 1 – 1 Penley
Just as in the case with Penley scoring their first goal, Caerwys had their chance to double their goal tally for the afternoon a few minutes after scoring their first. Decent hold-up play by their #10 laid up the ball for #7 to strike low towards the goalkeeper. It was at an uncomfortable height and velocity for the keeper as he managed to block to venomous attempt but could only manage to spill the ball back into the danger zone. Fortunate for the keeper, he managed to get away with his handling error as a Penley defender was the first to react and managed to clear the ball away from his area. A minute later, and with the pressure ratcheting up on their opponents, the home side would indeed have the ball in the Penley net for the second time. Yet again their #7 was involved in the play as he fired a low curling cross into the penalty area which bypassed everyone except Caerwys’ #6 who managed to stick a foot out and deflect the pass past the helpless goalkeeper. Despite it being an intelligent piece of play from both players and looking a decent goal from where I was standing, the official chalked off the goal as it was adjudged that #6 was in an offside position when he deflected the ball into the net.
With the first half coming to a conclusion, both teams had a half chance to get a decisive goal just before the break. Firstly Caerwys’ #4 managed to put the ball over the crossbar after a decent corner and then a minute after, Penley’s #9 scuffed his shot over the crossbar after an excellent cross coming in from the right hand side of the pitch. The referee would immediately blow his whistle after the Penley chance and both teams went into the break on even terms.
HALF TIME – CAERWYS 1 – 1 PENLEY
At the half time break, we decided to move our viewing position to the side of the pitch nearest the school to get a better viewing position for the second half. During the break period, Caerwys had returned back to the dressing room but Penley had stayed out on the pitch and were congregated on our side of the pitch getting instructions from their manager (who also stayed on this side of the pitch throughout the whole match and avoided the dugouts) in a similar but less hostile fashion to Phil Brown’s infamous half time talk when he was the gaffer at Hull City. A very interesting tactic employed by the Penley management and something I have not seen from any team this season. This meant that the Penley team were all ready and prepared minutes in advance before the home side trotted back out for the second half.
The second half would start as the first half had started with both teams failing to get any momentum together as they were both equally guilty of squandering possession on many occasions either through sloppy passing or knocking the ball out of play. There were plenty of times during the half when someone had to climb over the fence behind the dugouts to retrieve stray balls which had found its place out of bounds. He made more climbs then Spiderman! Both teams failed to produce many clear chances as possession alternated between the teams throughout the early part of the half. Of the two teams, Caerwys did produce half a chance when their #7 scuffed an effort on goal after failing to properly connect with a cross that came in from the right hand side. They had a better opportunity nearly 10 minutes into the second half when their centre back #5 could only scoop a long range attempt into the opponent keeper’s hands after a nice mazy advancing run through the middle.
Even though neither team could not control the game due to both teams being guilty of sloppy play, the game started to open up and more chances began to be crafted especially when Caerwys made a string of substitutions to bring some fresh impetus into the game. Firstly Penley almost regained their lead courtesy of a direct free kick with their #4 coming close to scoring. His free kick from the right hand could not curl enough as it whistled past the wrong side of the corner of the woodwork. A few minutes later and Caerwys almost had a chance to open their scoring of the second half when a brilliant run from their #5 allowed the substitute #14 to whip in a dangerous cross which was begging to be met in the penalty box by the onrushing #8. However the cross was just a little too far for the midfielder to connect with and it drifted out to #7 on the right wing. Just as with his opening goal, he attempted to cut inside and blast his shot into the corner of the goal, although this time he chose to aim the ball to go past the inside post rather than aim for the far post. He failed to get a decent strike like the previous effort and the ball fizzed past the wrong side of the near post.
Both teams would come close again on the 62nd minute when Penley’s forward #9 went clear on goal but could only manage to scuff the low and it dribbled into the goalkeeper’s hands. From the clearance by the keeper, it lead to the sub #17 to streak down the other end on a rapid counter manoeuvre and threaten the Penley defence who struggling to get back to defend. In the end, the sub failed to threaten the keeper as he blazed his shot well wide to the left of goal and really should have done better. Penley breathed a sigh of relief as they were dangerously caught on the counter attack then!
Between the 65th minute and 77th minute, Caerwys began to wrestle control of the game and test the defence of the visiting team as they had a number of chances to take the lead. Firstly the substitute #17 had a chance from a direct free kick on the left hand side of the pitch but could only manage to blaze the ball over the crossbar. A few minutes later and they had another great chance to take the lead when great work on the right hand side of pitch allowed the ball to be whipped into the box onto the head of Caerwys’ #6 who had made space for himself in the penalty box. Yet again they failed to test the keeper as the free header went well wide of the post – a poor effort which should have been on target at least. A minute later and Caerwys’ #11 had a chance to put them 2-1 ahead but could only manage to scuff his long range shot wide of the post. Chances were being made by the home side but the finishing and the passing between chances was poor to say the least!!
With the momentum going against them, Penley brought on their only substitute to add some fresh legs in the midfield. With the substitute previously doubling up as assistant referee, the role then went to the Penley manager to hold onto the flag. Penley were clinging on hoping to claim the point from the game, although it was looking increasingly likely that if the next goal was going to come, it would be scored by the home side. It almost came a couple of minutes after the Penley substitution, when Caerwys’ own subs combined well to create a half chance. Great work from #14 allowed him to square the ball to #12 who tried to cross the ball into the opposition penalty box but hit it too deep and the effort went out of play. Yet again another potential chance went begging for Caerwys.
A minute after the failed cross, Penley went on the counter and had a rare opportunity on goal during the Caerwys dominant period. A great run from their #2 down the right hand side allowed him to get a high looping shot towards goal, but as with the shooting of the second half, the effort went high over the crossbar. Caerwys would continue to have the majority of the possession even if their passing was erratic at the best of times and managed to craft yet another opportunity to score on the 77th minute when their #6 made space for himself on the left hand side and curled a shot goalward. As with previous efforts made by the home side, they failed to get their shot on target or test the keeper as it curled well wide of the post.
Finally on the 79th minute, the third goal of the game arrived although it came largely against the run of play. Penley would snatch the lead once again and this time it was largely due to a goalkeeping and defensive error. The ball was passed back to the Caerwys keeper from the right back although the ball had left the keeper under serious pressure from Penley’s #9 who had gambled and chased the back pass. The keeper panicked and failed to clear the ball away either up the pitch or out of play, and tried to shimmy past the oncoming attacker to get some space. Unfortunately for the keeper he made a complete hash of it as #9 managed to cleanly tackle the keeper and winning possession and allowing him to run into the space behind the keeper to tap the ball into an empty net. An absolute nightmare for the home side!!
Caerwys 1 – 2 Penley
With the game coming to a conclusion and Caerwys desperately trying to get a late equaliser after the defensive error, things were getting a little heated with the home team as the urgency to level the game intensified. Things came to a head during a 50-50 tackle on near the touchline which eventually knocked the ball out of play. With Caerwys adamant the ball had come off the visiting player last, they attempted to throw the ball back in but the Penley manager, who was right by the incident and now patrolling the touchline as an assistant ref, declared the ball had gone off a Caerwys player and the decision should be the other way. Cue Caerwys’ #3 getting enraged with the Penley manager and resulted in a heated exchange between the pair with the Caerwys defender accusing the Penley manager of cheating and unsporting behaviour, which he strenuously denied. I did chuckle when he fired back at the remonstrating defender, “Why would I want to give them the ball when you’re doing a good job of doing it yourself!?!”
Personally I couldn’t see which player it had deflected off last to make a fair judgement as the incident was so quick, but the referee eventually sided with the visiting manager and the throw in was given to Penley much to the frustration of the Caerwys management who also fired insults towards the visiting manager. A minute after the verbals, the referee finally blew for full time and ended the contest much to the disappointment of the Caerwys players and management team. On the other side of the pitch, Penley’s manager shouted in delight as his patched up/cobbled together team had taken the long journey to Caerwys and claimed all three points against unfavourable odds!
FULL TIME – CAERWYS 1 – 2 PENLEY
This match certainly was not a classic and will not be on the list of the top games I have seen this season. It was a gritty match where neither side managed to gain full control of the match for an extensive period due to the sloppy passing and wasted chances committed by both teams. Even though the conditions were good for football, it had the feel of a New Year match being played on a boggy pitch the way the game flowed. It was essentially a match where the two teams played were desperate not to lose especially after the heavy defeats in their previous games. Both of us were a bit disappointed that Simon’s brother Chris never made if off the bench either – one of the big reasons for us travelling up to Lon yr Ysgol!
Caerwys can consider themselves unlucky not to get anything from the game as they had created a large amount of chances, had a goal ruled offside and subsequently lost the game because of a defensive blunder. Both teams were equal enough with perhaps Caerwys having the better chances of the teams so the home side can take some positives from the game. But the fact they had a number of good chances to score and could only convert one of them tells a story – the club is in poor form and momentum is against them. As for Penley, they can consider this a fantastic result considering they only had 12 players and a patched up squad, and leaves them in good form with 3 wins and a draw in their last 6 games. Great momentum for them going into the business end of the season!
It might not have been the best game to watch on this afternoon but Caerwys is a great venue to watch football especially when the weather is in your favour, as it was for us on the day. The town itself is picturesque with some fine pubs to visit (ideal for the typical groundhopper) and the people who run the club were very welcoming and friendly to any new faces who appear. I was a little surprised that not more people from the town came to watch their local team but that was probably due to the final day of the 6 Nations being played out, and the attendance would be a lot higher on a normal match day. Caerwys is a decent little club who are a credit to everyone involved and well worth visiting if you are in the area. The fixture might not have been the initial plan for the afternoon but I’m glad I made the visit in the end. I will certainly be revisiting Lon yr Ysgol in the near future, with Penley on the planning list for next season also!!
May I wish good luck to both teams in their Division 1 campaigns for the rest of the season!