Welsh Alliance League Division 2 – 8th August 2015
Ground #57 – The Mine, Meliden, Denbighshire
- Entrance: Free; No Programme Provided
The second weekend of August is always an exciting and eagerly awaited time for supporters as traditionally the time of the year when the new season begins. After weeks of pre-season games being played, organised to get players into full fitness whilst whetting the appetite of the common supporter, it is always a fantastic time of the year when the season finally gets started. A hedonistic time when confidence is at its zenith amongst fans, seasonal expectations defined and the anticipation for the journey to be commenced by team and fans alike.
Despite the English leagues all kicking off on this weekend, I would have to wait another week before I could see my hometown team Holywell Town start their first campaign in the Cymru Alliance, after nine long years away from the second-tier league. The Cymru Alliance start the following weekend (due to them having fewer teams in their league than the English leagues) so I would have to find another ground to begin the 2015-16 properly before the Wellmen’s home clash against title-favourites Caernarfon Town. Thankfully for the sake of my sanity, not all Welsh leagues had delayed their start and some were commencing battle that very weekend.
Initially I looked at a couple of Mid Wales League clashes to start the season, but ultimately I chose a league I was incredibly familiar with…it would be a return back to the Welsh Alliance League to open the season. The Welsh Alliance League (situated in the third and fourth tiers of the Welsh football pyramid) is divided into two divisions [Divisions 1 and 2], so I had a good choice of fixtures to choose from. It was just a case of how far did I want to travel for a game? Thankfully one fixture stood out from the off, and it would be a relatively short journey for the opening Saturday of the season. I would be starting my 2015-16 odyssey in the Welsh Alliance Division 2 and a short hop into the isthmus of Denbighshire to see Meliden take on Amlwch Town.
Meliden (Gallt Melyd in Welsh) is a village located between the seaside town of Prestatyn and Dyserth in northern Denbighshire, near to the North Wales coast. Meliden is situated just two miles south of Prestatyn town centre, 1,4 miles north of Dyserth and just under four miles east of Rhyl. The village’s name is claimed to be derived from that of Bishop Melitus or Saint Melyd (the village has the church of St. Melyd as its main place of worship); with “Gallt Melyd” literally meaning “wooded hill of Melyd”.
Traditionally the village was settled by workers who worked in the local lead mines and limestone quarries although with the subsequent closure of such industries, it is today a quieter village. Looming above the village is the imposing limestone hill of Graig Fawr (153 metres or 502 feet) which is owned and managed by the National Trust. The views can be breath-taking from the top of the hill, where most of the North Welsh coast from Llandudno to the Wirral can be seen, as well the hills and mountains of the mystical Snowdonia, the neighbouring peak of Moel Hiraddug, and many other hills of North Wales.
The village’s football club are Meliden F.C. (nicknamed “The Miners” after the village’s mining past) and they were reformed for the 2007-08 season. They initially joined the Clwyd Football League before gaining promotion to the Welsh Alliance in 2012, where they currently play in second division of the Alliance pyramid. In their debut season they reached the final of the Halkyn Cup, and in their third season of existence achieved a runners-up spot in the Clwyd League Division 1 table. Their most successful season of their short recent history was in 2011-12 when they achieved a cup double winning the Clwyd Cup and Combination Cup, as well as finishing runners-up in the Clwyd League Premier Division. In last season’s Welsh Alliance Division 2 campaign, they managed to achieve a respectable 9th placement with a points tally of 34 points.
Anglesey-based Amlwch Town would be making the long 55 mile journey down the North Wales coast to The Mine and were looking to improve on their 12th place finish they had achieved in Division 2 the previous season. Even though they had finished in a lower position than their opponents this opening afternoon, they only earned four points less than their Denbighshire-based foe, so naturally I was expecting this game to be a potentially tight affair.
Meliden play at the village’s main sports field which is located next to the local primary school, St. Melyd Primary, which is a feeder school to nearby Prestatyn High School. The field is surrounded on three sides by houses backing onto the field and is located by Ffordd Ty Newydd although it is colloquially called “The Mine”. There are many access points to the field with entry points at Ffordd Ty Newydd as well as from the road to the primary school’s entrance. It is between the primary school and football field that the club’s changing rooms are also located. As with many grounds at this level, the pitch has been segregated from the supporters’ standing area with permanent barriers and there are also permanent, brick built dugouts for the teams to use. There are no permanent stands as of yet nor floodlights or concreate paths around the pitch but it is still an impressive little ground for Welsh Alliance Division 2 football.
Even though houses surround the perimeter of the field, the tops of the nearby wind turbines could be seen poking over the roofs of the houses. Due to the splendid summer conditions of the day, the little to none breeze which myself and the supporters were experiencing ensured there were no rotation of the turbine blades on this day.
The drive from Holywell to Meliden took about 25 minutes and was simply brilliant with the fantastic landscape spotlessly supplemented with perfect summer conditions, specifically on the Lloc to Dyserth section of the journey. With the shades on and the car windows down, it was a pleasure cruise of epic proportions and left me with a beaming smile on my face. Plus with the hits from 1980s blasting out the radio, such as Rick Astley’s megahit “Never Gonna Give You Up” and Def Leppard’s “Animal” (yep I was singing along to both) it became a wonderful soundtrack to what was becoming the idyllic start to the football season.
En route to Meliden, I drove through the village of Dyserth, and it made me realise how nice a village it is to visit also. With its tempting traditional pubs in the village as well as its main visitor attraction, the Dyserth Falls waterfall, it’s a must visit if you’re in the Prestatyn-Rhyl region! [There’s my bit for promoting Denbighshire done….]
Supporters are able to park along the small side road leading into the primary school although there are plenty of space along the residential streets should the side road be full. Due to my later than expected arrival at the ground, I had to leave the car in a small residential car park just a short walk from the junction, which hopefully was not taking any resident’s usual space. Anyway having parked up, it was just a short stroll to the pitch which was free entry due to the pitch being on a public field. Alas no programme was available (well not that I know of as I didn’t venture down to the changing rooms block) so I just found an ideal spot to stand in preparation for the game. I had noticed a small contingent of Amlwch fans had made the trip also along with the club’s photographer who was happily snapping away with an impressive looking camera!
Meliden were playing in their usual home kit of the visually pleasing tangerine shirt with black trim, with black shorts and socks. Amlwch Town continued with the current Welsh football fashion of adopting Macron kits (they’re nice kits by the way…) by wearing their home colours of the all blue kit with white trim, an identical design to Airbus UK’s Macron kits.
The visitors started the brighter of the two teams and dominated the early ball possession which they used to threaten the Meliden goal with a series of corners and half chances. Even though Amlwch controlled the play, it would be the Miners who would open the scoring. Against the run of play up to that point, and with their first attack on goal on the seventh minute of the game, a through ball sent the home side’s #9, Oliver Buckley, driving into space on the edge of the left hand side of the penalty box. With Amlwch’s goalkeeper rushing out to eliminate the goal threat, Buckley coolly and deftly lobbed the ball over the onrushing keeper and into the net.
Meliden 1 – 0 Amlwch Town
Whilst still reeling from that sucker punch from their hosts, Amlwch saw their task made harder as the deficit doubled when the deadly Buckley got his second in the space of four minutes. Another cutting ball from midfield sent Buckley cutting in from the left hand channel and charging towards goal. Once again he made no mistake as he fired a low rasping shot past the visiting keeper to double his tally for the afternoon. Two shots on goal resulted in two goals = deadly finishing!!
Meliden 2 – 0 Amlwch Town
Eight minutes after they had taken a two goal advantage, Meliden and Buckley continued to punish their visitors down the flank and caused huge problems for the Amlwch right back. In an almost carbon-copy state to the second goal, Meliden counter-attacked after an Amlwch throw-in broke down outside the Miners’ penalty box. With Meliden’s #7 on the ball, he spotted Buckley making the run from the left flank and successfully crossed the ball to the attacker. With the Amlwch keeper quickly bearing down on him, he tried to slide it past the onrushing keeper after his first touch was a little heavy. Alas this time his goal-den touch failed him as the ball rolled the wrong side of the post – a huge let off for Amlwch who were unable to contain Buckley’s darting runs from the left.
Amlwch were shell-shocked with Meliden’s double blockbuster and despite having a healthy amount of ball possession, they were left with little to show for it. An easily gathered direct free kick, and a half-chance from #4 were the fruits of their labours in the first half so far. In between these chances, they were almost punished by Meliden’s #10 who latched onto #2’s pinpoint cross from the right but could only see his volley rocket past the post.
It was around the half hour mark of the match when the Amlwch Town manager tried something drastic to work his way back into the team, and surprisingly made two early substitutions. Their #11 naturally wasn’t too happy at being substituted so early in the game, and threw his shirt down in frustration as he sat beside the dugout on the grass. Although not universally accepted by all, they did create a fresh impetus in the visiting side. Firstly they just missed clear chance to score when their #4 had a free header in the box after getting on the end of a long free kick, but agonisingly put his effort wide of the post. A few minutes later, a curling ball through ball from #10 put substitute #14 through on goal from the left flank, but was declared offside by the officials. Very unlucky for Amlwch as I thought he was played onside by one of the centre backs from where I was standing.
However the sub #14 would become a bright spark for the Blues throughout the afternoon even when his team were struggling. Just before the half time break, great holding-up from #9 allowed #14 to break into space on the left flank, fully utilising his advantage in pace on the Meliden right back, to whip a cross towards fellow sub #16. Alas for both subs, the cross had too much zip from #14 and just went beyond his team-mate.
With half time approaching, Amlwch were almost caught out by the ever dangerous Buckley who once again managed to run towards their goal. Winning the physical tussle with the defender, he managed to shrug off the challenge and launch a fizzing shot towards goal. This time, his aiming let him down as the ball just arced clear of the post and his chance for a first half hat-trick disappeared. It would be the final chance of the half, and Meliden would go into the break two goals to the good.
HALF TIME: MELIDEN 2 – 0 AMLWCH TOWN
I didn’t venture from my viewing spot during the half time period, and tried to view the opening weekend’s football results from around the leagues on my phone. However due to the sun well and truly having his hat on, I was becoming increasingly aware that my neck and legs were starting to get sunburnt from the intense summer sun. Guess which donut forgot to put sun cream on!!
The second half ran in a similar fashion to the first half as Amlwch started the brighter of the two teams, with their substitute #14 looking the brightest spark of the visiting team as they hunted for an opener which could facilitate a second half comeback. However they were almost sucker punched again through a counter-attack when Meliden’s #11 ghosted from the left and dribbled through the Blues defence to create a one-on-one chance for himself. However this time, the keeper did just enough to put off the winger as he blazed his shot wide of the post from five yards out. A let off for Amlwch!
Amlwch’s #14 almost came close to testing the Miners’ defence when a long ball punted up towards him could have unleashed him on a run towards the Meliden box especially as the home defence were scrambling back to cover. Alas for the youngster his first touch controlling the pass was a touch too heavy and easily gathered by the keeper. The visitors would get another chance to find an opener through their #9 when a defence splitting ball allowed him to surge towards goal. Again their attack was easily contained as the attacker was eventually squeezed off the ball by the covering home defender and the ball went out of play.
Sandwiched between the Amlwch chances, the Miners came incredibly close to scoring their third goal as Buckley terrorised the visitors’ defence drifting in from the left flank and gliding past the defenders to unleash a thunderbolt towards goal. Yet again he was denied his hat-trick as the ball cannoned off the crossbar and eventually cleared away.
It would take until the 63rd minute when Amlwch’s second half resolve was finally broken by the home side, this time through an excellently executed set piece. A corner from their right back #2 was superbly whipped towards the crowd hustling around the penalty spot where their towering centre back #5, Jonathon Terry, managed to rise above the jostling crowd and connect with the dangerous delivery. He deftly nodded it past the stranded keeper (a header his namesake would have been proud of) to make it three-nil to the Miners and realistically ended the game as a contest.
Meliden 3 – 0 Amlwch Town
With the third goal, Amlwch’s heads figuratively dropped and Meliden started to run riot having a number of chances on their opponents’ goal. A couple of minutes after their third goal and they almost got their fourth of the afternoon when their #10 had a free header at the back post after substitute #15 had crossed from the left by-line, but could only glance his chance wide of the post. Then a minute later, some great interplay between the Miners almost resulted in Buckley getting his hat-trick. A cross from Meliden’s #11, managed to find #10 in the centre, who had great vision to skilfully back-flicked the ball into attacker Buckley’s path coming in from the left. However the match ball would not be coming for the forward as his venomous effort evaded the defence but rocketed off the post.
With Amlwch struggling to cope with Meliden’s attacks, it was just a matter of time before the fourth goal of the afternoon arrived, and the home supporters would be rewarded on the 76th minute. Meliden’s #12, Adam Cassidy (who had replaced the excellent Buckley a few minutes previously), was sent clear of the Blues’ defensive line and into a one-on-one situation with the Amlwch keeper. The visiting keeper did all he could as he came out to close the angles down and delay the forward from taking the shot. However Cassidy dropped a shoulder and drifted past the stranded goalie, and despite some pressure from the desperate defence, calmly fired the ball into the empty net.
Meliden 4 – 0 Amlwch Town
Meliden were not content on just the four goals for the day’s efforts and continued to threaten the beleaguered Amlwch defence. The Miners had a chance on the 85th minute when a cross from the left winger #11 found goalscorer Cassidy in the penalty box, but he could only snatch his shot over the bar after being pressured into a shot by the centre back and goalkeeper. Unfortunately for the Blues, the home side would be rewarded with a penalty deep into injury time when Amlwch’s #4 scythed down Meliden’s #14 when he burst into the penalty area from the right hand flank. Alas it was a clear penalty as #4 caught the substitute and was cautioned for his late tackle. Cassidy stepped up to the spot and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to score his second and the Miners’ fifth goal of the game.
Meliden 5 – 0 Amlwch Town
The penalty would be the final kick of the game as the referee soon blew his whistle after the goal celebrations had died down to end the contest.
FULL TIME: MELIDEN 5 – 0 AMLWCH TOWN
It was the ideal start to the football season with a high scoring game in almost perfect summer settings, even if I may have burnt my legs a tad! The game was action packed with Meliden looking very impressive going forward, especially with the pace and finishing of Oliver Buckley being an obvious highlight for the home side. Their crossing all afternoon was top notch especially from their right back and I can see them causing a lot of teams some problems throughout the season.
As for Amlwch, they didn’t look too bad at the start of the match, but after the double hammer blow of going 0-2 down, they were always up against it as it forced them to go on the offensive which allowed Meliden to just pick them off on the counter attack using their superior pace. Their best player was probably the substitute #14 who showed some attacking willing and threat by causing the home right back some problems with his pace. However for the majority of the game, their attack was a little isolated from the midfield as they couldn’t manage to get any decent chances on goal especially during the second half.
All in all I really enjoyed my visit to Meliden and was really impressed with the set-up they currently have there, and would encourage anyone in the local area to give them a visit. I would like to wish both Meliden and Amlwch Town all the very best in their Welsh Alliance season for this season and hope they improve on last season’s results!