BRICKFIELD RANGERS 3 – 1 SALTNEY TOWN SPORTS

Welsh National League Premier Division – Saturday 13th August 2016

Ground #70: Clywedog Park, Wrexham, Wrexham County Borough

  • Distance Travelled: 22.0 miles
  • Travel Time: 41 minutes

 

Attendance: 107

  • Entrance: FREE
  • Programme: N/A
  • Pin Badge: N/A
  • Chocolate Bar: £0.30
  • Bottle of Water: £0.50

 

“Good things come to those who wait!”

Whoever came up with that timeless quote was absolutely spot on! Granted the time of which one has to wait before goodness to appear or reappear can certainly vary and frustrate on many occasions. As well as being a fine advertisement and description for a specific brand of Irish stout when poured, it is a perfect description for certain aspects of the football world. This phrase is apparent when your team is on the receiving end of such a long wait of seeing some success (see Chirk AAA in the Welsh Cup and English football since 1966) and unforgettably glorious when the good times finally show their long-awaited yet welcome face (see the scenes from Leicester City and Wales’ exploits this summer).

Although Euro 2016 kept us all thoroughly entertained during the normally barren inter-season period, with Hal Robson-Kanu’s Cruyff turn becoming a permanent highlight in Welsh football, the wait for the new season has been a long one especially for this groundhopper. Alas I was one of the few Welsh supporters who never made the pilgrimage to France to see the Dragons create history (I know, I know….I can feel your distaste and scorn for not going from here!), so the wait to see the next live football game to write a substantial groundhop blog on had been an excruciatingly lengthy one!

hal-robson-kanu-wales-belgium-goal-euro-2016_3746302
What a turn! [Image: Sky Sports]
Not since my final groundhop of the 2015-16 season waaaaay back in May (shocking how quick the months are flying past isn’t it?), visiting the glorious Mount Field in Llanfair Caereinion to see Holywell scrape a 1-0 away victory over Llanfair United, had the opportunity to write a new blog being taken. As the weeks zoomed past, and pre-season appeared, I was becoming increasingly aware that a new groundhop blog need to be written about a ground I had not discussed previously. Regrettably a combination of a busy schedule, illness and some misfortune during pre-season had annoyingly meant that no new groundhops could take place. However I was able to catch two of Holywell’s final pre-season friendlies against “Magic Daps” Lee Trundle’s current side, Page Celtic, and former Conference side Droylsden which was now the home to former Halkyn Road favourite, Steve “The Beast” Lewis.

Pen-pic
Lee Trundle couldn’t help Page Celtic getting beat at Halkyn Road [Image: Welsh Premier League]
With the second weekend of August being the opening weekend for the majority of Welsh leagues including the Welsh Premier League, I was determined to visit a new ground and make up for lost time. Looking through the fixtures of the various North Welsh leagues had highlighted a number of intriguing fixtures but one game instantly caught my eye in the Welsh National League Premier Division – Brickfield Rangers versus Saltney Town Sports.

Why choose Brickfield Rangers?? Well this is a club I have often come into contact with on Twitter or read about in the local Evening Leader paper, and the club has impressed me with its community spirit and attitude as well as the way it positively engages itself on social media. Therefore I tried to visit on a number of occasions last season but just never managed to successfully arrive there. Clashes with events such as friend’s birthdays, or postponements through bad weather had scuppered my best laid plans to visit Clywedog Park at the back of end of last season. This season I was determined for some good fortune, and thus the pick to visit Brickfield for my opening blog of the season was an obvious choice! Plus there was a very slim threat of poor weather conditions causing a postponement, and crucially no events were planned for the weekend!

It would also be great to see Saltney Town play once again after seeing them draw to Llangollen Town towards the end of the 2014-15 season [the Saltney blog can be found here], especially as they a club which have a great help to myself and the blog in the past. Plus being a Flintshire lad, it is always good to see a team from the county in action! So the decision was made, and The 94th Minute would be back on the road, taking the main expressways of the A55 and the A483 towards Brickfield Rangers. Hopefully the traffic on both roads would be kind to me on this occasion!!

 

WREXHAM

Wrexham (Welsh: Wrecsam) is the largest settlement in North and Mid Wales, with a population of under 62,000 people, and as such is the major centre of the region’s administrative, commercial, retail and educational infrastructure. Located in its own county borough in North-East Wales, the historic town is close to the Welsh-English border and located 13 miles south-east of Chester, 14,5  miles north of Oswestry whilst being 12 miles south-east of Mold.

Location of Wrexham
Location of Wrexham in North East Wales

For further history on the town of Wrexham, read my groundhop blog when I visited Wrexham AFC take on Dover Athletic last season, where the history of the town was further discussed.

 

BRICKFIELD RANGERS

Brickfield Rangers

  • 1 x Welsh National League Division 1 Runners-Up
  • 2 x FAW Football Trust Club of the Year
  • 1 x Game on Wales Community Club of the Year

 

Brickfield Rangers are a team based in the south-west of Wrexham, playing at their newly constructed Clywedog Park ground that was formally opened in July 2015. The ground is located just south of the major Wrexham Maelor Hospital and positioned directly opposite Ysgol Clywedog. The ground (and school) takes its name from the River Clywedog, which flows along the south outskirts of Wrexham. It is a significant tributary of the River Dee and flows into its mother river just north of Bangor-on-Dee.

Clywedog Park is situated very near to both Wrexham town centre and the major retail parks, and within good transport links making it fairly straightforward to travel to. The ground is less than a mile east from Junction 4 of the main A483 north-to-south trunk road, whilst being less than a miles walk from Wrexham Central train station or a 25 minute, 1.1 mile walk from Wrexham General train station.

Location of Clywedog Park
Location of Clywedog Park in Wrexham

In comparison with other historical clubs in the locality, Brickfield Rangers are a relatively new club in the area by being established in 1976. Brickfield was initially founded as a single youth team by a collection of enthusiastic local parents (many of whom are still heavily involved in the club today), and started their history playing in the Wrexham Youth League. They initially played their home games on playing fields on Court Road, commonly known as “the Brickie” before moving to their new home at Clywedog Park in 2014.

The ethos of Brickfield Rangers from its foundation has been to be the hub of football community groups within the area. This community philosophy has seen the club progress from one youth team initially to its current organisation of running 28 teams, starting from under six levels and progressing all the way to the senior team. In addition to the boys and men’s teams, the club has established an increasing number of girls and women’s teams, a special needs team and a successful futsal club. Also in 2016, the club branched out into other sports when Brickfield embraced and welcomed a netball team into the Brickfield sporting umbrella as part of their “BR in the Community” philosophy. All of this community spirit has ensured that Brickfield Rangers has won a number of national awards for its sterling work within the locality.

Brickfield have been an important stepping stone for a number of local players who have progressed from Brickfield and into the professional game. The most famous of the Brickfield alumni is former Welsh international turned controversial pundit Robbie Savage. The 39 time capped Welshman played for “Brickie” as a youth before progressing to Manchester United’s youth academy and becoming part of the folklore surrounding the legendary “Class of 92”. Other famous alumni from the Brickfield family are former Manchester City and Wrexham players Jim and Jeff Whitley, who developed their skills at Brickfield before eventually progressing to become Northern Irish internationals.

Robbie Savage
Robbie Savage – former Brickfield youth product [Image: Wales Online]
The men’s senior team first appeared in the Wrexham National League in the 1994-95 season when they joined the Second Division of the WNL pyramid. They spent just two seasons in Division 2 before they gained promotion up to the First Division. During Brickfield’s stay in the First Division, they would finish no lower than fourth position and continually improve upon their points total every season culmulating in a runners-up finish in the 1999-2000 season which saw them promoted to the WNL Premier Division.

Since that promotion into the Premier Division, Brickfield Rangers have been stalwarts in the division by spending sixteen seasons in the third tier of Welsh football so far. Their best period in the league came during the period between 2004 and 2006 when the club finished in 5th position directly followed by their best league position of 4th position in the 2005-06 season. However the majority of their time in the WNL Premier has been spent finishing in positions in the lower half of the league, and have achieved a 14th place finish (out of 16 teams) on four seperate occasions since the 2006-07 season. Their worst season in the WPL came in the 2007-08 season when they finished bottom of the table having only earning seven points all season and conceding an eye-watering 179 goals throughout the season. However they were spared relegation back to the First Division due to teams leaving the league.

WNL 2015-16 Table
The 2015-16 Welsh National League Premier Division table

Despite this tough period in the club’s history, the club seem to be on the start of an upward curve in performance. After a two season plateau of finishing in their regular fourteenth position for two continuous seasons, last season saw an improvement to Brickfield’s fortunes when they finished in tenth position in the league. Under the management of Peter Gabriel, “Brickie” achieved eleven wins throughout their 26 game season and accumulated a total of 36 points – their highest points total since their fourth place finish eight years previous! This improvement in performance, combined with an important sponsorship deal with Gap Personnel (the company who owns Gap Connah’s Quay) has resulted in huge optimism for the future of Brickfield Rangers as they develop as a club both on and off the pitch.

 

2016-17 SEASON

This summer has been a period of upheaval and change for Brickfield Rangers as they hope to improve upon their 10th place finish and potentially challenge for the league title. It saw a change their management structure as they brought in former Macclesfield Town player, Oswestry Town manager and Arsenal coach Dave Norman as their new Director of Football. It saw a return back to North Wales for the former Wingate & Finchley Director of Football, having played for a number of North Walian clubs during his playing career.

Simon Sedgwick
Simon Sedgwick – the new Brickfield manager [Image: Brickfield Rangers]
As part of the management restructuring, last season’s manager Peter Gabriel surprisingly left the club during the summer break and was replaced by the respected and highly experienced Simon Sedgwick. The former Buckley Town, Holywell Town, Mynydd Isa and Penycae manager has a vast amount of experience in both the Welsh National League and the Cymru Alliance, and seems the ideal choice to lead Brickfield through this exciting period of the club’s history. Sedgwick’s experience will be crucial for Paul Hooson’s ultimate goal of getting Brickfield promoted to the Cymru Alliance initially, and to the Welsh Premier League by 2020.

The club has also brought in a number of new players into the Brickfield fold, signing both experienced veterans and exciting young local talent to produce a good blend in the squad and signal its intent for potential future success. The marque signings of the summer was gaining the signature of the former Connah’s Quay and Rhyl goalkeeper Terry McCormick, who had dropped two levels to play for Brickfield in the third tier. Another big signing during the summer was bringing in former Shrewsbury Town, TNS and Bangor City player Nicky Ward as in a player-coach role. Players of such calibre signing for the club shows the ambitious nature and positive environment which has enveloped Brickfield Rangers currently, and potentially could put them in the title hunt come next May.

Brickfield Rangers’ last five pre-season results prior to the start of the season:

  • Thu 21st July: Acton (H) 2-1
  • Sat 23rd July: Maine Road (H) 1-4
  • Wed 27th July: Mold Alexandra (A) 3-0
  • Wed 3rd August: Oswestry Town (H) 3-1
  • Sat 6th August: Gap Connah’s Quay (A) 1-0

Brickfield’s pre-season campaign started off badly when they lost five of their first six friendlies, however three straight victories towards the end of their pre-season schedule has meant the club would go into their first league fixture with some confidence. An impressive 3-0 victory over Cymru Alliance side Mold Alexandra helping Brickie gain some momentum. A highlight of the pre-season games was the return of former Brickfield favourite and Manchester City player Jim Whitley, when he turned out for his former youth side in their match against Droylsden in early July.

 

Saltney Town

Saltney Town’s pre-season games prior to the start of the season:

  • Sat 16th July: Gaerwen (H) 6-0
  • Fri 22nd July: Sychdyn (A) 3-2
  • Wed 27th July: Upton AA (H) 2-1
  • Sat 6th August: Holyhead Hotspur (A) 0-1

Saltney Town have had an impressive pre-season, with strong victories over Welsh Alliance side Gaerwen, as well as Chester-based side Upton AA at Sandy Lane, plus a good work out against North East Wales League side Sychdyn. Their final pre-season game saw them lose just by the single goal away at Holyhead Hotspur – an impressive performance against a side one tier above them in the Welsh football pyramid. For their fifth season in the WNL Premier Division campaign, the Bordermen will be hoping to improve upon the eighth place finish they have achieved for the past two seasons and trying to go beyond the 41 points tally record they achieved in the 2013-14 season.

A vast majority of the squad from last season has resigned with the club for the 2016-17 season, with Saltney’s Young Player of the Year Paul Johnson and Saltney’s Player of the Year Craig Mayers continuing for Jake Gibbons’ Bordermen. Saltney have also added to this season’s squad by signing Ste Chiochi and Mark Ellis, as well adding goalkeeper Elliot Quinlan who will become the club’s first choice keeper for this season.

The Bordermen would be going into the fixture hoping they could continue the run from last season and achieve another victory over their opponents. In their first contest at Sandy Lane last season, a thrilling contest between the two teams resulted in a 7-4 victory for Saltney. Whilst in the corresponding fixture last season, they beat Brickfield 3-1 at Clywedog to complete the double over their Wrexham-based opponents.

 

CLYWEDOG PARK GROUNDHOP

The car journey from 94th Minute HQ to Clywedog Park took roughly 40 minutes, and thankfully the traffic on the A55 Expressway would not become much of an issue, despite my initial fears, mainly because I was travelling eastwards along the A55. Alas the majority of the travellers were heading westward, and the traffic on the A55 could be described as “chronic” with both western-bound lanes of the dual carriageway packed with rather slow-moving or even stationary caravans and motor homes. Unsurprisingly, waves of tourists were venturing into North Wales for the weekend taking full advantage of the summer holidays and the decent weather (although that can always change quickly in North Wales). As I zoomed past them in the opposite direction on a relatively quiet and empty road towards Wrexham, I did feel a prang of pity for those who were stuck in the queue, and potentially would have to endure such queues all the way to the west coast of Gwynedd or Anglesey.

Ysgol Clywedog
Ysgol Clywedog [Image: bbc.co.uk]
With the roads relatively congestion free, I was able to arrive at Brickfield Rangers’ ground about 1:45pm, where I parked up in the car park of Ysgol Clywedog. The school’s car park is opened for match days and has plenty of spaces for free parking whilst conveniently being directly opposite the entrance to the ground. It is also possible to park just outside the school, although it’s probably safer to park the car within the car park. With the car parked up, it was a short hop across the road to the ground where the entrance to this match was free. I’m not sure whether this is a regular thing or just a one-off gesture for supporters, but either way it made a nice change from what I am normally used to in the other Welsh leagues.

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (1)
Welcome to Clywedog Park
Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (4)
Cracking view

As soon as I entered the ground, I was really impressed with the set up they currently have at Clywedog Park. As with nearly all teams in the Welsh leagues, the ground is dominated by the large clubhouse-dressing room complex which is situated at the school end of the pitch, whilst a covered stand is located at the opposite end of the pitch. There is a concrete path surrounding the perimeter of the pitch whilst there are permanent dugouts at the tree side of the pitch. Between the pitch and the A525 Ruthin Road, there are football pitches which can be used by all of Brickfield’s teams or for training purposes by the senior team.

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The clubhouse & dressing room complex

Brickfield are currently on a monumental ground improvement drive with the club currently building a new stand right next to the clubhouse. Currently the concrete foundations are in place and a majority of the steelwork skeleton has been assembled, although the roof has yet to be fitted. It looks like seats may be fitted there also considering the foundations were stepped, and that the ground requires seating if the club has ambitions to play in the Cymru Alliance there. There are also future plans to construct a third stand at the ground with early groundwork haven taken place prior to its construction, with permanent fixed floodlights another potential future ground improvement. Again these ground improvements are critical to the club’s objective of playing Welsh Premier League football at Clywedog Park by the year 2020.

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (10)
One of the current stands in the ground

The first thing that caught my eye whilst inside the ground was the bouncy castle which had been inflated by the entrance. Either this was in place to entertain the children during the game or it was a unique way of warming up the substitutes during the game ha! Either way, it’s probably the first bouncy castle I have seen at a Welsh league game during my groundhopping odyssey!

After taking a few initial pictures of the ground, and with plenty of time to spare before kick-off, I decided to head to the green-clad clubhouse to get some pre-match refreshments. The clubhouse was incredibly busy when I ventured inside, with a large amount of children running about or making use of the pool table in the corner of the room. The club was also projecting the live Hull-Leicester midday match onto the wall, and I was surprised to see the current English champions losing to the troubled, injury-ravaged City team. Just goes to prove that you cannot predict anything in football nowadays (ironically emphasised by Leicester’s title win last season)!

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (6)
Saltney Town in their pre-match warm-up

I managed to purchase a bottle of water and chocolate bar from the clubhouse for the combined total of just eighty pence = complete bargain. They clubhouse does sell the usual hot snacks (such as chips) and beverages that are normally available elsewhere, and are welcome in more wintery conditions. Alas the club did not seem to have any programmes or pin badges available to buy which was slightly disappointing. They did have Brickfield-branded pens and pencils available but I wasn’t really interested in having one those. Therefore a little request to Brickfield, could you produce some pin badges please? I’m sure other groundhoppers will gladly pay for them in the future, as would I.

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Brickfield warming up

With water in hand and the bar of Snickers quickly being wolfed down, I decided to head over to the road side of the pitch to watch the game. The reason for this was that there is a grass slope next to the pitch which raises the training/youth football fields above the playing surface, but provides a decent view of the whole pitch. With the weather conditions dry and fairly mild, if a little cloudy and a tad breezy, sitting on the dry grass hillock to watch the first game of the season ultimately proved to be a very sound plan for this afternoon’s game. I can imagine it won’t be as inviting during the winter months though. Anyway sitting on the raised ground became a popular location for a number of supporters, who also sat on top of the mound to get the full panorama of the pitch. It is certainly the ideal location if you wish to take pictures during the match, and you have a decent camera!

After both teams had completed their warm-up routines and retreated back to the changing rooms for the standard pre-match team talk, they soon returned back onto the pitch in preparation for the impending match. The away side appeared onto the pitch first, with Saltney in their home strip of red shirts with black and white trim, black shorts and black socks. They were soon joined by the hosts who were also wearing their home kit of green and white hooped shirts with green sleeves, green shorts and green & white hooped socks.

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (20)
The coin toss

Saltney would be missing their player-manager Jake Gibbons through illness resulting in Ricky Wright taking temporary charge of the Bordermen for this season’s opening match. Both Young and Senior Players of Year Paul Johnson and Craig Mayers would be in the starting XI for Saltney, alongside new signings Ste Chiocchi and keeper Elliot Quinlan. Fellow new signing Mark Ellis would start the game on the substitutes’ bench.

After a mad summer supporting the national team and doing some castlehopping in North Wales, it was finally back to business and a return to the Welsh football scene!  I was really looking forward to this match as Brickfield kicked off to start the season!

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (22)
Brickfield start the match at the kick off

 

MATCH REPORT

Initially in the opening quarter of an hour, Saltney looked the brighter of the teams as they had the majority of the ball possession and continuously threatened the Brickfield defence through the pace of their two strikers. The home side conceded a number of free kicks early on as they tried to stop the Saltney wingers running at them. Alas for the visitors, they failed to capitalise on the set pieces as the home side successfully blocked or intercepted any attacking moves leaving the Bordermen to resort to half chances. Their best chance coming on the 22nd minute when a long range shot from left back Adam Bailey was comfortably caught on the line by Terry McCormick.

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Brickfield’s marque signing – Terry McCormick

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Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (29)

Despite Saltney’s early superiority, it would be the home side who would have the opening salvo of the contest when a long free kick into the box from the left was disappointingly headed over the bar by Brickfield’s #9 after five minutes. As the first half progressed, Brickfield started to find their rhythm and graft their way into the match ensuring the game turned into a more equal and balanced game. Their passing started to become more slick and rapid in the midfield, which started to create good chances for the home side.

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Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (36)

Brickfield would soon dominate in the opportunities as they crafted a number of chances which would either be easily gathered by Elliot Quinlan or would go wide of the goal. Their wingers were finding more space down the flanks, with the left flank providing advantageous for the hosts. This enabled them to take chances with long range shots through their #11 and #6, or whip in threatening crosses into the box. Although they were not being converted, they were getting closer to threatening the Saltney goal.

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Just after the half hour mark the home side would deservedly take the lead, although under some controversial circumstances. A superb pass from Brickfield’s midfield allowed their #9 to find some space on the edge of the penalty box, although tightly marked by the visiting defender. A superb piece of skill from the forward sent the Saltney defender in the wrong direction and created enough space on the right of the penalty area for him to advance into. He would cross the ball across the goal towards the onrushing Sam Molyneux who clinically slotted the ball into the Saltney net. The Saltney players appealed that the forward was a yard or so offside and that it should be disallowed. However the official overruled their protests and awarded the goal to the home side to give Brickfield the lead.

Brickfield Rangers 1 – 0 Saltney Town Sports

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The hosts take the lead

Brickfield had a great shout for potentially getting a second goal in the first half, a minute after taking the lead, when their #9 ran at the defence and into the Saltney box. A clumsy looking challenge brought down the influential striker and it looked like a good appeal for a penalty kick. However the official waved away the protests from the home side and allowed play to continue. From my position it looked like it should have been a penalty for the home side, but perhaps the decisions had equalled themselves out after the potential offside from the opening goal.

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Saltney Town continued to threaten and run at the Brickfield defence, although great defending from the Rangers restricted the Bordermen to a blazed chance that went wide of the left post. Despite that both sides would continue to battle away but ultimately cancel themselves out as the first half would advance to a measured conclusion. The home side would go into the break having the better of the chances and importantly the lead in the game, although Saltney could feel a little unlucky having had the majority of the ball possession.

HALF TIME: BRICKFIELD RANGERS 1 – 0 SALTNEY TOWN SPORTS

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (68)
Getting ready for the second half

For Saltney to find a route back into this contest, they need to score as quickly as possible after the break to give themselves a fighting chance. After two minutes of the second half, they managed to grab the desired equaliser after again starting brighter than their opponents. Saltney’s #11 almost had the beating of the Brickfield right-back before the defender clumsily brought down the left winger to concede a free kick. From the resulting free kick on the left side, it was launched low into the box and deftly connected by Jack Roberts who craftily heel flicked the ball past the scrambling McCormick and into the Brickfield net.

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An early free kick for Saltney Town

Brickfield Rangers 1 – 1 Saltney Town Sports

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (75)
Saltney grab the equaliser

With the game’s momentum currently in their favour and full of confidence, Saltney pushed forward to find a second goal. A few minutes after levelling things up, and the visitors had a great chance to take the lead when captain Ben Evans slalomed past three players to produce a drive from 25 yards out, which went narrowly wide. As with the first half, Saltney were starting the second half the more dominant and looking more likely to score the game’s third goal. This was because they had identified the space that was appearing on the left flank and thus were continuously exploiting that space, giving the Brickfield right back huge defensive problems early on.

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Slowly but surely, the hosts recovered from the early set back and stopped Saltney from dominating the game by acquiring more ball possession. However it would be through set pieces where they would get their best chances to retake the lead. A corner and free kick around the 65th minute mark would threaten the Saltney goal, but both chances were headed the wrong side of the goal frame. However on the 69th minute, Brickfield would have the ball in the net after the visitors failed to properly defend another corner. The corner was whipped towards their centre back #5, who broke free of his marker to head the ball into the empty net. Alas for the home support, the goal was disallowed by the official after the Saltney goalkeeper was fouled and hindered as he darted forward to intercept the cross.

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The Rangers faithful would only have to wait an additional five minutes before the home side would eventually recover their initial lead. Once again their #9 would play an influential part in the goal’s creation when some tricky around the box allowed him to launch a strike on goal, which was blocked by the Saltney defence. However the ball rolled to goalscorer Sam Molyneux who was all alone in the penalty box after the whole Saltney defence has pushed forward to play the offside trap. Every Saltney player appealed for offside, Molyneux casually blasted the ball into the net thinking he was offside, all the supporters thought he was offside, everyone in the ground thought the goal would be disallowed…although it wasn’t! One of the Saltney defenders had just played Molyneux onside when the ball was struck by #9 meaning the official gave the goal to the home side. Cue a lot of surprised faces on both sides especially from Molyneux who had now grabbed a brace!

Brickfield Rangers 2 – 1 Saltney Town Sports

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Rangers score a second goal

With Saltney now pushing forward to find a second equaliser, it opened up space at the back for Brickfield to counter into. On the 80th minute, a long hopeful ball fired from the right flank to Saltney’s vulnerable left flank hoping to find double scorer Molyneux who was lurking on the left touchline. However the ball looked to easily gathered by Saltney’s right back who intercepted the long diagonal cross. Unfortunately for the visiting full back, he lingered on the ball too long allowing Molyneux the prospect to dispossess him and surge forward into the penalty box. Being in a one-on-one situation with advancing keeper Quinlan, Molyneux made no mistake as he blasted the ball past the stranded goalie to complete his hat-trick and potentially end the contest.

Brickfield Rangers 3 – 1 Saltney Town Sports

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Sam Molyneux breaks clear
Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (98)
An coolly finishes to give Brickfield their third from the afternoon

Cue a frenetic final ten minutes of the game as both sides attacked resulting in an exciting end-to-end contest. Saltney had a great chance on the 84th minute to score a second when an attack down the left wing from Ben Evans resulted in a cross being curled into the box. Despite having a superb chance to double his side’s goal tally and a free head, Jack Heppleston could only head the ball wide of the post. A minute later, and a corner almost caused problems for Brickfield when Saltney’s #6 struck a superb shot from outside of the area. However it was successfully blocked and the chance was gone.

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Saltney on the attack

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Brickfield could have scored a fourth goal when a cross from the left found their #5 in the box, but the centre back was stretching to reach the pass and could only head wide. At the other end, Saltney almost grabbed a second goal when a cross from Paul Johnson on the left found the onrushing Jack Roberts. The winger headed shot looped over the stranded and beaten McCormick but failed to clear the woodwork as the chance came crashing off the crossbar. So unlucky for the visitors!

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More chances came and went for both sides during the additional minutes for injury time as they continued to attack but neither could convert the fifth goal of the afternoon. The final chance of the match dropped to the home side and the impressive #9, when his connection from a devilishly-looking cross from the substitute #15 was agonisingly diverted wide of the post. It would prove to be the final action of the game as the official soon blew his whistle to end an action packed second half, and an exceptional game overall!

FULL TIME: BRICKFIELD RANGERS 3 – 1 SALTNEY TOWN SPORTS

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Full time of a brilliant match!!

What a fantastic start to the groundhopping season! It became to be a superb game of football between two teams who were fairly balanced for a large chunk of the game, and portrayed great attacking movement at times. It was the more clinical nature of Brickfield successfully converting their chances, as well as gaining some additional luck at times, which ultimately swung the game’s result in their favour. However Saltney can take a lot of positives from this game as they tested the home defence on a number of occasions, and could have earned something from this game had Lady Luck been smiling upon them this afternoon.

As it was, Brickfield would make the ideal start to their potential title challenge whilst Saltney would need to wait until later on in the week before they are able to earn their first points of the season. I think that if they maintain their form for the majority of the season, then both teams could well be in the top half of the WNL this season providing they avoid any major injuries!

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (115)
Ground #70 visited

With the weather looking increasingly gloomy and breezy, it was a short walk back to the car, heading into Ysgol Clywedog’s car park before heading back to HQ. The walk involved passing the colourful bouncy castle which was still going strong and thankfully still inflated for the kids still within the ground. A nice metaphor for the season – Brickfield hopes have not been deflated today! For the westward journey homewards, I made sure I would avoid travelling on the potentially traffic riddled A55 by going through Wrexham and heading down the longer, yet quieter route of the Wrexham-Mold road. A nice drive for a late Saturday afternoon in the summer if you ask me!

However just before heading off did I notice the glorious view from the ground of the North East Welsh hills gleaming majestically in the distance. It’s such panoramic views like that which make journeying around the Welsh leagues such an absolute joy for me, and make me look forward the future groundhops for the season ahead! The 2016-17 season should be a cracking one…fingers crossed!

Brickfield Rangers vs Saltney Town - 13th Aug (112)
A cracking view from Clywedog Park!

I wish Brickfield Rangers and Saltney Town all the very best in their respective Welsh National League Premier Division campaigns this season, and hope to see them again in the near future! Hopefully I will return back to Clywedog Park next season to see how the ground has developed.

That what will come, and must come, shall come well” – Edwin Arnold

 

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