F.C. NOMADS OF CONNAH’S QUAY 5 – 1 RUTHIN TOWN

Welsh National League Premier Division – 5th December 2015

Ground #64 – Wepre Park, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire

Attendance: 45 approx.

  • Entrance: FREE
  • Programme: £1.00

 

As many groundhoppers can confirm, this time of the year is a troublesome time to plan fixtures as wintery conditions can cause games to be postponed. This situation is made ridiculously difficult when the country is being battered by heavy rainfall and even gustier winds from Storm Desmond causing many games to be naturally postponed (in the case of Llanrwst United and Porthmadog, it would even cause their pitches to be submerged through a foot or more of flood water). Therefore when planning a groundhop for the first weekend of December, it pays dividends to spread your bets and have a number of potential locations.

This weekend would be an important period in the Welsh football calendar as it would be when the Third Round fixtures of the Welsh Cup would be played. This is the first time in the national cup when the competition truly goes “national” as the regionalised draws of the previous rounds make way for countrywide fixtures. This resulted in the draw creating a few long journeys for teams, with teams from the North mainly making their way south and playing Welsh League teams. Not ideal for these clubs when the potential of a postponement after a 4 hour (or longer) journey is high. Sgorio were certainly concerned when they switched their live game from the Holyhead-Bangor game to the TNS-Aberystwyth for fear of heavy winds on the Holy Isle causing dangerous risks to their cameras (the game was postponed anyway).

My team Holywell Town would be one of those teams making a mammoth journey down to South Wales, as they had to take the 160 mile journey to Aberavon to take on former Welsh Premier League team Afan Lido in what would prove to be a close, intriguing and eventful encounter. Initially I was also set to travel down to banks of the River Afan to watch the cup match but after serious consideration with the weather, I decided against travelling down for fear of postponement. Afan Lido will have to wait for another day I’m afraid!

Afan Lido vs Holywell Town Programme
Programme from the Afan Lido versus Holywell Town Welsh Cup match

 

With a potentially empty weekend ahead, I went in search of looking for a fixture at a ground previously unvisited. Alas my search for such a game would be severely hampered by the dismal weather conditions – a situation similar to my previous blog, when I subsequently ended up at Caernarfon. Games at the Welsh National League’s Brickfield Rangers and Borras Park Albion would get postponed, whilst the match at WNL Division 1 team Penley was scheduled for another date due to a lack of available referees. Looking at the WNL fixtures carefully and seeing them fall like dominos to the weather, there was a couple which held firm and one fixture in particular caught my eye. It would be the top of the table clash between early league leaders FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay against title contenders Ruthin Town at Wepre Park.

FC Nomads were one of the few local Flintshire teams I had not yet visited during my travels. This was because I was saving them for a day when the conditions would be bad that driving long distances did not seem appealing. As the criteria was certainly ticked for this weekend, there was no time like the present and a hastily organised journey to Wepre Park in Connah’s Quay was made!

As mentioned in my blog when I went to watch Gap Connah’s Quay against Haverfordwest earlier in the season, Connah’s Quay is the biggest town in the Flintshire. Originally a fishing village, the town expanded when the docks became more prominent and it became a major junction for the Holyhead to Chester railway line. Today the town is mostly a commuter village but has a major centre of education in the North East Wales area in the Coleg Cambria (previously Deeside College) campus, as well as being the location for a gas-powered power station. The main landmark of the town in the imposing asymmetrical bridge, the Flintshire Bridge which connects the Deeside Industrial Zone on the northern bank of the Dee with the town and the rest of the Flintshire coast.

Situated in the south-east of Connah’s Quay is the publically-owned country park of Wepre Park, which is a 160 acre site, which encompasses playing fields, wooded paths and ruins of a Welsh-built castle, Ewloe Castle. Originally established next to an ancient forest, the woods and the Wepre estate are mentioned in the Doomsday book, with the woods measuring 0,5 leagues in length. The area has been previously owned by St. Werburgh’s Abbey in Chester, the Bishop of St. Asaph, as well as the established FitzRoberts family, and was the hall on the estate was commandeered by a royalist artillery commander during the siege of Chester during the English Civil War.

Location of FC Nomads
Location of Wepre Park in Connah’s Quay

In the late 18th century, a Holywell lead mine owner, Edward Jones, acquired the estate and rebuilt Wepre Hall into a Georgian-style house but unfortunately racked up insurmountable debts doing it. His son Major Trevor Owen Jones, was forced to sell off a number of holdings to pay off the debt but managed to hold onto the majority of the estate. It during his tenure that he commissioned Wepre Mill to be constructed – a corn mill consisting of three stones powered by a 20 feet diameter water wheel which was powered by the water flowing from the Wepre Brook flowing through the estate.

By the mid-20th century, the estate had been broken up and sold off for housing developments, whilst the Hall served as an old people’s home, and by 1960 the Wepre estate was acquired by Flintshire County Council. They demolished the abandoned hall (its cellars are located under the Wepre Park Visitors Centre) but continue to maintain the remaining estate and woods for the community, creating a community country park for visitors and establishing paths through the woods. Wepre Park also encompasses the ruins of the 12th century built Ewloe Castle, which is located in the south end of the woods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ewloe Castle – the Welsh built castle in Wepre Woods [Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewloe_Castle ]
Unlike many other castles that were built in North Wales, Ewloe Castle was one of the last castles built by the sovereign Princes of Wales before Edward I began his campaign to invade the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Originally built by Llewelyn ap Gruffudd and completed in 1257, it was constructed during a period of success for the Welsh princes in regaining the “Perfeddwlad” of North East Wales from the Anglo-Norman Marcher Lords who had captured the area through continuous campaigns against Gwynedd. Ewloe was constructed at this point in time as its location allowed the fort to be a front-line fortress against the Marcher Lords, as a result of its position next to the Chester Road and near the Welsh-English border.

When Edward I began his campaign against the Kingdom of Gwynedd in July 1277, it would seem the Welsh had abandoned Ewloe Castle to the invaders, possibly retreating to stronger defensive positions along the Clwydian Hills to the west. The invading English army gave Ewloe Castle very little military value and allowed it to fall into ruin. This was because they had begun construction of Flint Castle which was in a stronger military location, situated on the banks of the Dee Esturary (allowing it to be easily provisioned by sea from England), as well as being a day’s march from the main headquarters at Chester. Therefore by the late medieval period, Ewloe Castle was in ruins, which most the castle’s stonework being reused in later buildings around Flint, Mold and the Connah’s Quay area.

Even though the castle and some farmland was sold into private hands in 2009, the Grade 1 listed castle is incorporated within Wepre Park and can be reached by footpaths through Wepre Woods. The castle is under the care of Cadw (the national heritage agency of Wales) and public access to the castle is free.

FC Nomads Badge

To the north of Ewloe Castle and within the confides of Wepre Park is the location of Connah’s Quay’s second football team, FC Nomads. FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay (although known as the shortened version of “FC Nomads”) currently play in the Wrexham-based Welsh National League Premier Division. As their name would hint, they follow in the same mould as their similarly named inspirations FC United of Manchester, as they too were born out of protest. Like their colleagues in Manchester who were upset with the Glazer takeover and broke away to form their own team, FC Nomads were set up by former Connah’s Quay Nomads supporters who were dismayed with the direction the Welsh Premier League club were going under the ownership of gap Personnel.

It all came about from a mooted merger in 2009 between historical Flintshire rivals Gap Connah’s Quay and Flint Town United to create the super club “Gap Flint Nomads”. This merger would have seen the Nomads move out of the Deeside Stadium in Connah’s Quay, which is owned by Coleg Cambria, and move into Flint’s WPL standard Cae-y-Castell ground. Had the potential merger came into fruition, it would have left Connah’s Quay, the biggest town in Flintshire, in the unthinkable position of having no football team located within the community. Therefore a group of pioneering but potentially disenfranchised supporters established FC Nomads (adopting the moniker of their former club which had been dropped when Gap Personnel took over Connah’s Quay) with the aim of maintaining a strong football presence in Connah’s Quay, as well as a team for local players to play and develop at.

They joined the old Clwyd League system in the 2009-10 season where they quickly rose through the league winning the Division 2 title in their debut season, and Division 1 titles the following season. They eventually made into the WNL system in the 2012-13 season where they only spent two seasons in Division 1, finishing as runners-up then champions before getting promoted to the WNL Premier Division in the 2013-14 season. In their debut season in the WNL Premier Division, they had a brilliant season finishing in 5th position with 60 points and winning 18 of their 30 league games, and also won some silverware in winning the WNL Premier Division Cup.

WNL Table 2014-15
The WNL Premier title in the 2014-15 season

This season under the management of Craig Hett, FC Nomads were having an excellent season by going into December as league leaders. From their 14 league games played, they had won nine and drawing three, earning a total of 30 points and having a four point gap over second placed Chirk AAA. The form of FC Nomads heading into this fixture was excellent, achieving a perfect November by winning all four of their league fixtures in the month and scoring 15 goals in the process. In their previous fixture, they achieved an impressive 5-3 victory over Corwen at the War Memorial Park. They were also currently undefeated at Wepre Park in the league so far this season, with their previous home fixture being a 1-0 victory over Brickfield Rangers with Shaun Tinsley scoring the deciding goal.

WNL Table 4th Dec PM
The WNL Premier Division table prior to the match

Today’s fixture would see FC Nomads take on title rivals Ruthin Town, who were going into the match in third place but with five games in hand over their opponents. Last season, Ruthin finished in 3rd position in the league and four points ahead of today’s rivals. Since I had last seen them in early October where they battled hard in a fiery and bruising Welsh Cup encounter against Cymru Alliance based Holywell Town, where despite playing well still came away with a 0-1 defeat, they have only had three league games in that time period. They won two of their league games although their last league fixture was a disappointing result, losing 1-5 to title rivals Chirk AAA away from home.

Ruthin Town Badge

However the visiting side would have some advantage over their hosts, by having an additional week’s rest due to their fixture against Overton being postponed the previous weekend. Plus the side managed by Phil Hinchcliffe had beaten FC Nomads in the reverse fixture early in September, when they achieved a 2-0 victory over the Connah’s Quay based team.

Because the weather was causing havoc with the fixtures, it was an incredibly late call from myself to head to Connah’s Quay to watch FC Nomads. As a result, I did turn up to the ground about 5 minutes late from kick off, although that was not helped by some of the traffic I had encountered on my 20-25 minute journey from 94th Min HQ (it is always the case that the slow drivers appear when you are late for something!). Along the way, I was entertained by the 70’s sounds of David Essex’s “Gonna Make You a Star” and Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything”. With pre-match soundtrack like that, the top-of-the-table clash was already being built up in my eyes and I was eager to get their despite the gusts constant battering of my poor car as it zoomed along the A55 Expressway.

Alas Messieurs Essex and White could not help me arrive at Wepre Park prior to kick-off and I arrived at the entrance car park just after the 2pm kick off. The turn-off to Wepre Park is located on the main Connah’s Quay to Northop road, with the brown signage pointing visitors in the direction of the country park clearly signposted on the main road. At the entrance of the park, there is a large concreted car park for visitors who wish to watch the football or just experience the park grounds itself, and thankfully there were plenty of spaces available for me to quickly ditch das Auto. When parking up, FC Nomads’ pitch can be clearly seen up the hill on the right-hand side surrounded by a green fence, next to an open football pitch and just next to the Wepre Woods.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (1)
FC Nomads’ ground as seen from Wepre Park’s car park

There is a concrete road/path which heads up from the car park and runs past the pitch but there is no concrete path connecting the entrance of the ground to the road. So when I walked onto the grass from the path, unsurprisingly it was very muddy and cut up (not surprising considering the amount of rain Flintshire has experienced over the past week or so). Also there is no concrete path running around the pitch, with one of the standing side with a slight slant. Therefore access for disabled supporters might be difficult especially if the grass between the entrance and concreted path is muddy and slippery, so please be aware at winter time as conditions might not be ideal.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (2)
On the way up to “The Cage”

After futilely and haphazardously avoiding the mud on the grass between the pitch and path resulting in my white trainers (a completely wrong decision in footwear anyway) becoming a brighter shade of muddy brown, I reached the entrance to the ground. However during my walk up from the car to the pitch, a cheer came up and I saw the Nomads team celebrating after scoring a goal. Absolutely typical that the one match I arrive late at, an early goal is scored….later on in the afternoon I would find out I had missed TWO early Nomads goals in the match. The moral of this story is arrive to the game on time!!

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (3)
Wepre Park, home of FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay

As stated previously the pitch is separated from the rest of the country park by a green fence surrounding the perimeter, and providing it with the nickname of “The Cage” by the club, although considering the number of times the ball flew over the fence, it would seem the height of the “cage” needs to be a touch higher. Entrance to the ground is free which is logical considering you could watch the match from outside of the cage (which a couple of people did). However I did purchase a programme from the volunteer who was going around selling them for £1 (even though it had £1.20 on the cover – bargain ha!). Pin badges were also being sold for £3, but I only discovered this information once I was back at home and reading the programme more thoroughly…..missing two goals and a chance to buy a pin badge…this is becoming embarrassing! Anyway if there’s any FC Nomads pin badge going spare, save me one and I will certainly purchase one to add to the collection.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (52)
The programme from the fixture

The ground itself is at a basic standard for this level, with a permanent metal barrier separating the standing area from the pitch although there is no concrete path around the perimeter. There are no stands nor floodlights, although there are portable plastic dugouts for both teams to use. The changing rooms aren’t within the fenced zone, although the building housing the changing room is located opposite the pitch, a short walk on the opposite side of the concrete path. Although I couldn’t see any obvious areas to buy refreshments, I presume coffee/tea is available near the changing room facilities.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (25)

As the match was progressing, I decided to stand level with the halfway line on the Connah’s Quay side of the pitch (the sloping standing side) to watch the remaining 35 minutes of the half, whilst muttering to myself annoyed of having missed two goals. Conditions for the game were rough, with a gusting wind coming across the pitch and towards the direction I was standing in. Drizzly showers continued to blight the game throughout the evening making a heavy, muddy pitch more difficult to play in as the game progressed, although temperatures were surprisingly mild for early December.

FC Nomads Team Selection
Team selection of FC Nomads [Taken from http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/fcnomadsofconnahsquay/ ]
The home side, FC Nomads, were playing in their all red kit, whilst Ruthin were playing in their traditional strip of all blue with white trim. FC Nomads would have new signing James Gambino, brought in from Buckley Town, starting on the substitutes’ bench. The home side’s captain Paul Dowridge would be making his 20th appearance of the season in the heart of the defence, as well as midfielder Andrew Watkin, whilst they had top scorer Aled Reece starting up front, with Gary McConnell alongside him. Both players scoring a combined total of 22 goals between them (Reece with 15, McConnell with 7 goals).

Ruthin Town Team Selection
Ruthin Town’s team selection

 

MATCH REPORT – FIRST HALF

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (4)
FC Nomads currently 2-0 up when I arrived

As stated previously, I had arrived about 10 minutes after the kick-off and during that initial period of missed action, the home side had scored twice. Firstly Aled Reece had opening the scoring for FC Nomads after just two minutes to give the league leaders and excellent start to the game against their title rivals. Their early dominance provided dividends once again when they doubled their lead six minutes later, when Shaun Tinsley scored FC Nomads’ second goal of the afternoon (this was the goal I just caught them celebrating as I walked up the path) to make Ruthin’s afternoon in the challenging conditions much more difficult.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (6)

FC Nomads 2 – 0 Ruthin Town

The home side continued to press their opponents, who were still shell-shocked from conceding two early goals, and had a number of chances to extend their advantage further. Firstly #10 Gary McConnell saw his 20-yard effort sail over the crossbar, whilst Mark Atkinson’s cross-come-shot from the left flank was easily gathered by the visiting keeper, Rich Parry. Finally on the 25th minute, FC Nomads’ right back Ben Howarth had a chance to score the match’s third goal from a direct free kick just outside of the penalty area in a left-of-centre position. However the full back put too much power into his attempt and his effort harmlessly sailed over the crossbar, much to the Ruthin’s keeper’s relief.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (7)

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (11)
Ben Howarth with the free kick

With FC Nomads squandering a number of chances, Ruthin had the chance to punish their opponents when they were awarded a penalty on the 31st minute. This resulted from a clumsy challenge from the Nomads defender on the Ruthin attacking player who had surged into the penalty area from the right flank. The defender brought down the attacker with a sliding tackle on the edge of the penalty box, and it left the official with no other option than to give Ruthin the spot kick. With an opportunity to half their deficit, Ruthin’s #8 Liam Jones stepped up to take the spot kick hoping to start a Ruthin comeback. Unfortunately he failed to test the keeper from 12 yards as he blasted his low effort well wide of the left hand post – it was starting to appear that fortune was not going to favour Ruthin this afternoon!

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (13)
Liam Jones taking Ruthin’s first penalty

Misfortune struck Nomads’ right back Ben Howarth on the 34th minute when he picked up a nasty looking injury whilst attempting a cross from the right-hand byline. The right back caught his studs in the muddy ground as he tried to scoop the ball into the area, resulting in the player twisting and jarring his knee. Howarth looked in agony as the physio assessed his injury, and he eventually had to hop off the pitch, being replaced by the debutante James Gambino. I wish the player well in his recovery and hope the injury is not as bad as initially feared.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (17)
Howarth picking up a nasty injury

With the first half coming to a close, the away side were in the ascendancy and had a couple of chances to score a crucial opening goal before the half time period. Firstly a great run from their left back Elliot Slade down the left flank allowed the defender to whip a dangerous looking cross behind the Nomads defensive line towards main striker Jordan MacCarter who had found space in the box. Unfortunately the cross was just a touch beyond the stretching MacCarter, who would have tested the keeper Steve Hollyoak had he connected with the cross, and it saw the effort drift wide of the right post.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (14)

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (18)

Ruthin’s second chance for an opener came four minutes after their earlier opportunity, on this occasion coming from a classic “route one” tactic. A massive goal kick from their keeper Rich Parry was flicked on by MacCarter towards his teammate #10 Garmon Hafal, who had managed to peel away from his marker and found some space on the edge of the Nomads penalty area. Alas for the forward, he scuffed his shot slightly ensuring his low effort was easily gathered by the home keeper, Steve Hollyoak.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (15)

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (19)

Nomads would have the final chance of the half when their #7 Lewis Cunliffe attempted a long range effort from a central position, but the visiting keeper was more than equal to the effort and comfortably saved the shot. That would be the final chance of the half, and after three minutes of added time due to the Howarth injury delay, the official brought the first half to a close.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (22)
Half time and both teams return to the changing rooms

HALF TIME: FC NOMADS 2 – 0 RUTHIN TOWN

With the wind and light rain blasting into my face in the first half, I decided to move across to the other side of the pitch (the Wepre Woods side) for the second half so that the wind was behind me. I decided to stand next to the Nomads photographer, who had ingeniously sat under an umbrella-come-shelter combo at the side of the pitch, which was protecting him from the elements. I think he probably had the best seat in the ground! Ha!

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (23)
The view of Connah’s Quay and the Dee Estuary from the ground

I was also stood there hoping for additional goals in the second half – I would have been absolutely gutted had I turned up for a match and missed all the main talking points in the first 10 minutes. Thankfully the second half would provide plenty of entertainment which I could write about.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (26)

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (27)

 

MATCH REPORT – SECOND HALF

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (28)
Getting ready for the second half

The first ten minutes of the second half was a cagey affair with both teams trying not to concede an early goal that could change the game, whilst attempted to adapt to ever worsening weather conditions. A long range shot from the Nomads forward #11 Shaun Tinsley from the left hand side was the only chance in this period, but the effort blazed over the crossbar.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (29)

It was not until the 57th minute of the game when match sparked to life again, and it would be Ruthin who would provide that spark. A cross from the right hand side from #7 Sam Jones managed to find his namesake Liam Jones in the middle of a load of crowding Nomads defenders in the middle of the penalty area. However Liam Jones could only scuff his half-volley attempted (no doubt pressurised by the looming defenders around him into making a snatch shot) and could only fire the ball into Steve Hollyoak’s hands.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (30)
Elliot Slade with the throw-in

Ruthin would pay for missing their first chance on goal, when a minute later the home side punished their opponents with a third goal on a classic counter-attack. With the Ruthin players streaming back down the pitch and attempted to get back into their defensive positions, the substitute James Gambino took full advantage of the defensive flux and scored a killer third goal. A great debut for ex-Rhyl winger Gambino whose goal effectively ended Ruthin’s resolve and the game as a contest!

FC Nomads 3 – 0 Ruthin Town

As the second half progressed, tensions between the teams were slowly building until the flash point came in the 63rd minute. An attempted slide tackle by the Nomads midfielder on Ruthin’s right winger, to stop a potential counter attack down the right flank, was late and fully caught the player. It was certainly a foul and a booking, but one of the Ruthin players took exception to the tackle and blasted the ball into the backside of the Nomads tackler to show his displeasure at the late challenge. It was at this point all hell broke loose as the Nomads player reacted to the ball blast and subsequently both teams got involved in the ‘fracas’.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (33)
Tensions bubble over

Overall, it was a case of “handbags at dawn” with a load of pushing and choice words being said, but no real aggression i.e. punches thrown, were seen from my point of view. Needless to say, the supporter next to me was not impressed with either team’s actions calling them “a bloody disgrace”. After attempting to calm the situation down, the referee only brought his yellow card out by cautioning the Nomads player for the late tackle, and then strangely booking the Ruthin substitute Adam Harvey Davies even though the young lad had not been involved in the initial incident nor been the major aggressor in the “melee”.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (34)
The official attempts to defuse the situation but cautions the wrong player

If the official thought the two yellow cards would calm the situation down, he would be proved wrong when another flare point occurred three minutes after the initial coming together. Another strong challenge from the Nomads attacker was not best received by the Ruthin centre-back Justin Harden, who reacted to the challenge by pushing the home attacker to the ground. Again tempers flared up with both teams coming together, and this time the official had to make a firm stance to try and quell the increasing tension between the opponents. He dismissed Harden for his reaction and gave Nomads a free kick just outside the area, where the coming together occurred.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (35)
Tensions appear once again

From the subsequent free kick, positioned just left of the centre and about 2 yards from the edge of the box, Nomads #9 Aled Reece almost scored his second and the team’s fourth goal of the afternoon. He struck a superb shot towards the top left corner which left Rich Parry completely beaten, but his effort could only rebound off the bottom of the crossbar and bounce the wrong side of the line for the Nomads forward.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (36)
The free kick which would cannon off the underside of the crossbar

On the 73rd minute, the home side were making their man advantage count by dominating the ball possession and inflicting pressure on the Ruthin defence, although it was a defensive error which allowed them to extend their lead. A surge down the left side allowed a cross to be fired into the danger zone which looked an easy catch for Rich Parry. Unfortunately for the visiting keeper, Parry spilled the cross due to his area being crowded, leading to a desperate defensive scramble to clear the ball. Compounding with Ruthin’s luck this afternoon, the ricochet during the pinball-like scramble fell into the path of the substitute #12, the former Holywell Town forward Wayne Edwards, who made no mistake from 3 yards out to tap the ball over the goal line.

FC Nomads 4 – 0 Ruthin Town

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (40)
FC Nomads go 4-0 up

Ruthin’s miserable afternoon was completed when they conceded their fifth goal two minutes after conceding their fourth. Eight minutes after he left the crossbar rattling from his free kick, Aled Reece finally grabbed his brace after some superb work from the Nomads substitutes. A cross from one substitute goalscorer James Gambino found the other sub goalscorer Wayne Edwards in a central position on the edge of the box. Superb holding up play from the forward using his strength to hold off the Ruthin defender before Edwards found Reece advancing from the left flank and surging into the penalty area. With time to pick his spot, Reece fired his low shot across goal past the outstretched goalkeeper and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

FC Nomads 5 – 0 Ruthin Town

Ruthin’s defence were in disarray with the loss of one of their centre backs causing problems with the defensive line and allowing gaps to appear. The home side were certainly exploiting the spaces, which had now appeared, by running into the areas and threatening the Ruthin goal. On the 78th minute, a superb cutting ball to the right side of the penalty area allowed Gary McConnell to break free of the defensive line and into a one-on-one situation with the Ruthin keeper. Thankfully for Ruthin, their defenders managed to just about close down the free attacker and put enough pressure on him which forced McConnell to hurry and slice his shot wide of the left post.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (43)

Ruthin would not be so fortunate a minute later when FC Nomads broke through the defensive line once again with the home attackers looming down on goal. The goalkeeper this time was called into action and rushed off his line to quell the danger. Alas for the visiting number 1, he brought down both McConnell and then Edwards in the penalty box forcing the referee to give the game’s second penalty. With an opportunity to complete his hat-trick, Reece stepped up to the 12 yard spot hoping to score the sixth goal of the game. The forward went for placement and power as he directed his shot into the top left corner of the goal. Despite sending the keeper in the wrong direction, there was just a little too much power in the strike allowing the ball to lift beyond the target and cannon off the crossbar, eventually going out.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (44)
Aled Reece with FC Nomads’ missed penalty

With the official awarding two penalties in this match but both being missed, would it be third time lucky when the man in black gave another penalty to Ruthin on the 84th minute. A cutting run from Jordan MacCarter was halted as he got scythed down by the Nomads defender just inside the penalty area – a clear penalty. This time #11 Mathew Davies made no mistake with the spot kick as he sent Steve Hollyoak diving in the wrong direction and slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. A cool penalty but ultimately a consolation goal for the visiting team on this occasion.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (47)
Third time lucky with the penalties as Mathew Davies scores a consolation goal

FC Nomads 5 – 1 Ruthin Town

That would be the final real action of the game as the game petered out in the final six minutes of this fiery match to give FC Nomads a huge win over a title challenger.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (48)
A free kick to Ruthin which was eventually cleared

 

FULL TIME: FC NOMADS 5 – 1 RUTHIN TOWN

A very surprising scoreline considering both teams are chasing the Welsh National League Premier Division title this year, with the result giving the league leaders a huge boost for the Christmas-New Year period. FC Nomads were clinical in their finishing on this occasion, especially when Ruthin went down to 10 men, and showed me why they have impressed so many other supporters this season so far. Plus they adapted to the rough conditions much quicker than their opponents, which you would expect for a team playing at home.

FC Nomads vs Ruthin Town 5th Dec (50)
Full time

Ruthin on the other hand did disappoint me, and were a far cry from the team I had saw in early October who had pushed Holywell all the way in their Welsh Cup game. Even though the result was a bad one for the Blues, they still have games in hand over the teams above them, and can still launch a strong charge for the title should they pick plenty of points in those games. Also this game was a maelstrom of bad errors and luck which can be described as “one of those days” for the men from the Vale of Clwyd. No doubt they will rectify the wrongs of this game, in their next fixture and return to winning ways.

Even those the conditions were awful, I did enjoy my visit to Wepre Park, even though the temperature of the game did boil over a couple of times. It’s good to see FC Nomads developing both on and off the pitch and should they challenge for the WNL title, I would imagine pitch improvements will be made to allow them to play Cymru Alliance football in the future. As it is, the ground is a quaint one with great views of Connah’s Quay and the Dee Estuary in the background. Plus if the conditions are ideal, you can combine a groundhop with a walk in the Wepre Woods themselves, which in themselves are certainly worth the visit!

A big thank you to FC Nomads for their hospitality and assistance, and to Ruthin Town for providing their team selection information. I wish both teams all the very best for the rest of the season and will look forward to seeing both teams challenge for the WNL title throughout 2016.

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