Steelmen’s Fightback In Vain as Resolute Bangor Show Experience

Port Talbot suffered for their nervous start to what was the clubs first ever Welsh Cup Final as Bangor City opened up a two goal lead inside the opening 16 minutes of the match at Parc-y-Scarlets. Bangor City took the lead after just six minutes when goalkeeper Lee Kendall misjudged the bounce of the ball and allowed Lee Hunt to score the simplest of goals from close range. The goal rattled Port Talbot Town and boosted Bangor and ten minutes later the North Wales side doubled their advantage as Jamie Reed headed in a cross from Peter Hoy.

Port Talbot eventually settled into the match and midway through the opening half created their best chance when Martin Rose found himself through on goal but a poor touch allowed goalkeeper Paul Smith to collect the ball from the feet of Rose. Lima McCreesh and Drew Fahiya both failed to hit the target with long range efforts as Bangor appeared to cruising to victory at half-time. Port Talbot came out with a more positive approach in the second half and pulled a goal back on 57 minutes as Drew Fahiya linked-up with Rose before driving the ball into the net from inside the area.

A triple substitution offered Mark Jones side different attacking options as Lee John was pushed forward to test the Bangor defence with his pace. At the other end a strong penalty appeal was turned down when Matthew Rees appeared to have brought down his man in the area but referee Dean John waved play on.

On 85 minutes Port Talbot’s positive play paid off as Liam McCreesh latched onto a loose ball in the area and made no mistake with a well taken goal. The celebrations for Port Talbot and their support did not last long however as a controversial decision resulted in Bangor having a free-kick on the edge of the area in injury time and from the resulting cross Dave Morley headed past Kendall to earn his side their third consecutive Welsh Cup victory.

3rd May 2010 – South Wales Echo

Steelmen’s fightback in vain as resolute Bangor show experience

It was a triumph of experience over exuberance as Bangor City lifted the Welsh Cup for the third consecutive time, meaning Port Talbot Town’s first final appearance ended in defeat. Incredibly the North Wales side have not lost in the competition since November 2006, and that extra nous proved key at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday. A see-saw clash saw Port Talbot battle back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to level with just four minutes to go. But they had their hearts broken in injury time as Dave Morley headed home the winner to ensure his side kept hold of the cup. Port Talbot had piped Bangor to a Europa League spot last weekend after beating them to a third-place finish in the Welsh Premier League.

But Neville Powell’s side more than made up for that disappointment as they secured a victory that also sees them enter the European competition, but a round later than Port Talbot. Steelmen manager Mark Jones suggested afterwards that Bangor’s players had handled the occasion better than his young side and that proved the difference. And it was hard to argue with his assessment after Port Talbot gave themselves a mountain to climb inside the first 15 minutes. Roared on by a vocal travelling support, Bangor were a goal ahead after only six minutes after an error from the normally reliable Lee Kendall. The Town goalkeeper charged off his line to collect a long ball by Michael Johnson only to see it bounce over his head allowing Lee Hunt to roll it into an empty net. Port Talbot boss Jones desperately attempted to get his youthful side to settle by gesturing from the dugout. But the tide was very much with Bangor.

Eddie Jebb pulled a shot wide for the holders as Powell’s men continued to have the better of the opening exchanges. Liam McCreesh shot straight at Paul Smith in the Bangor goal with the Steelmen’s only early opportunity before Port Talbot’s problems worsened. Bangor dominance paid further dividends as Jamie Reed expertly headed home a pinpoint Peter Hoy cross to give Kendall no chance. Marc Smyth’s long throws appeared Port Talbot’s best attacking weapon, but they were having little impact on a well-drilled Bangor defence as the Steelmen struggled for goalscoring opportunities. Bangor, by contrast, continued to look menacing as Hunt had two further first-half chances.

The first required a well-timed tackle from Port Talbot skipper Matthew Rees after the Bangor striker raced clear before he failed to get a shot away moments later when the ball broke to him. Rees himself had two opportunities in quick succession. Firstly he headed another Smyth long throw directly at Smith, then repeated it from a Port Talbot free-kick following a foul on Drew Fahiya. But Bangor remained a threat before the break and Kendall was grateful to see an acrobatic Reed bicycle kick fly straight at him as the first half drew to a close. With desperation in the Steelmen’s ranks growing, Jones was preparing a triple substitution until Fahiya handed them a lifeline just before the hour and sparked a Port Talbot fightback. Fahiya played a one-two with Martin Rose before unleashing a stinging shot that arrowed in at the near post. Bangor remained a threat at the other end however, with Reed in particular continuing to prove a problem. Leigh de-Vulgt was booked for bringing down the forward as he sprinted towards goal before Bangor appealed for a penalty when Reed tumbled for a second time, this time under the challenge of Rees in the 73rd minute.

In a frantic finish, Bangor could have sealed matters with eight minutes remaining as Hunt beat Gareth Phillips in a foot race, but his cross was put narrowly wide by substitute Sion Edwards. A minute later Martin Rose had the chance to level after rounding Smith, but the Bangor goalkeeper managed to recover and snatch back the ball. Then, with time running out, Rose chested down a Phillips cross and McCreesh smashed home from close range. The match looked to be heading for extra time, but Port Talbot had their tails up and pushed on in search of a winner. But that cavalier approach proved costly as they were caught out in injury time when Hunt was brought down on the edge of the box and a left-footed free-kick from Edwards was headed in from close range by Morley to keep the cup in the north.

3rd May 2010 – South Wales Echo

Jones bemoans Port Talbot inexperience as Bangor lift cup

Port Talbot’s inexperience was a key factor in their dramatic Welsh Cup final defeat at Llanelli. Bangor City lifted the trophy for the third successive season as a far younger Port Talbot team fell to an injury time winner. “Our inexperience showed when we fought back to make it 2-2,” said Port Talbot manager Mark Jones. “Our team is far younger than Bangor’s and we were running to take free-kicks and corners. Their winning goal followed our corner. We ran to take it but Bangor goalkeeper Paul Smith caught the ball and launched the attack which led to their winner. If the game had gone to extra time I could only see us winning because of our youth.

But we will be all the better for games like this, one which will go down as one of the great Welsh Cup finals.” Jones was quick to praise former Cardiff City goalkeeper Lee Kendall, whose early error led to Bangor’s first goal. “Lee is the best non-Football League goalkeeper in Wales,” said Jones, whose Port Talbot team have qualified for next season’s Europa League by finishing third in the Welsh Premier League.  “Lee hadn’t made a mistake all season but the bounce beat him. I would take him as my goalkeeper before anybody because it’s the only mistake he’s made all season.” Bangor were 2-0 up in 15 minutes but Port Talbot fought back and levelled five minutes from time. But Bangor City struck the decisive blow when David Morley, who started his career with Manchester City, headed in Sion Edwards’ free-kick.

Lee Hunt had fired Bangor ahead on six minutes following Kendall’s error, the goalkeeper rushing out to deal with a long pass forward but missing it completely. The ball skidded off the surface and Kendall shaped to head clear. Hunt was left with a simple finish and another former Rhyl player, Jamie Reed, added a second soon after. Reed ran to the near post to meet a cross from the Bangor right and produced a deft flick to send the ball across goal. Kendall was helpless as the header ran past him and into the far corner. Drew Fahiya pulled a goal back on 57 minutes and Port Talbot started to take control.

As the clock ticked down, they equalised following a free-kick on their right. Martin Rose chested down and Liam McCreesh arrived at the far post to smash his shot home from close in. Port Talbot celebrated wildly, but their joy was short-lived. After Smith had gathered a late corner Bangor counter-attacked and Bangor were awarded a free-kick on the corner of the penalty area. Substitute Edwards lifted the ball towards the far post and Morley grabbed the goal which sends Bangor into next season’s Europa League.

2nd May 2010 – Wales on Sunday

Morley strike puts City on Europa trail

Experienced David Morley, who started his career with Manchester City, headed an injury-time goal to complete Bangor City’s Welsh Cup hat-trick at Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, last night. Highly experienced Morley, 32, headed in from close range a minute into injury time and left Port Talbot Town broken-hearted. They finished third in the Welsh Premier league to qualify for next season’s Europa League and fought back from two goals down to tie things up at 2-2 after 90 minutes. “Bangor City are always full of goals and you have to lock up against them,” said Port Talbot manager Mark Jones. “When we scored to make it 2-2 I could only see one winner if it went to extra-time.

But Bangor have won the Welsh Cup for three successive seasons and you can’t take that away from them.” Neville Powell, whose Bangor team finished fifth in the league, described the win as “amazing” and said: “Emotions took over at the end – our support was unbelievable. This was Port Talbot’s first final and they looked nervous for the first 20 minutes. I felt we deserved the win on the balance of play.” Lee Hunt fired Bangor ahead on six minutes following an error by goalkeeper Lee Kendall, who rushed out to deal with a long ball forward by defender Peter Hoy and missed it completely as it skidded off the surface. Hunt took advantage to fire Bangor in front and then, after 15 minutes, another former Rhyl player, Jamie Reed added a second.

Reed ran to the near post to meet a cross from the Bangor right and produced a deft flick to send the ball across goal. Keeper Kendall was helpless as the header ran past him and into the far corner. Port Talbot created first-half chances and the best came when Martin Rose ran clear with team-mate Danny Thomas inside him. Goalkeeper Paul Smith ran out to face Rose, whose touch let him down badly and the chance was lost with Thomas screaming for a pass which would have left him in the clear with the keeper out of position. Drew Fahiya pulled a goal back on 57 minutes and Port Talbot started to take control. The Citizens had big appeals for a penalty turned down on 73 minutes when Reed slipped past Port Talbot captain Matthew Rees and went down as the big centre-half tried to stop his charge. Referee Dean John would have none of it.

At the other end Rose found space behind the Bangor back four and only an outstanding save from keeper Smith, getting down quickly to snatch possession from the striker, prevented an equaliser. But Smith was beaten on 85 minutes when a free-kick taken on the right was chested down by Rose and McCreesh, racing in at the far post, smashed his shot home from close in. Port Talbot celebrated wildly, but their joy was short-lived. Bangor were awarded a free-kick on the corner of the penalty area and when substitute Edwards lifted the ball towards the far post it was defender Morley who headed in from close range to qualify Bangor for the Europa League in 2010-11.

Welsh Cup Final

Saturday, 1st May 2010

at Parc-y-Scarlets, Llanelli

Port Talbot Town 2-3 Bangor City

Goalscorers

Port Talbot Town

Drew Fahiya (57)

Liam McCreesh (85)

Bangor City

Lee Hunt (6)

Jamie Reed (16)

Dave Morley (90)

Referee – Mr Dean John

Port Talbot Town

Team – Lee Kendall, Leigh De-Vulgt, Scott Barrow, Gareth Phillips, Matthew Rees, Lee Surman, Drew Fahiya, Lloyd Grist, Martin Rose, Liam McCreesh, Daniel Thomas

Subs – Nicky Holland (rep De-Vulgt – 63), Lee John (rep Fahiya – 66), Karl Lewis (rep Thomas – 66), Matthew Thompson (Unused), Gary Bansor (Unused)

Yellow Cards – Gareth Phillips (39), Leigh De-Vulgt (62) Red Cards – None

Goalscorers – Drew Fahiya (57), Liam McCreesh (85)

Bangor City

Team – Paul Smith, Peter Hoy, Chris Roberts, Dave Morley, Jamie Brewerton, Craig Garside, Jamie Reed, Michael Johnston, Eddie Jebb, Mark Smyth, Lee Hunt

Subs – Sion Edwards (rep Jebb – 69), Marc Limbert (rep Smyth – 80), Les Davies (rep Reed – 90), Matty Hurdman (Unused), Clive Williams (Unused)

Yellow Cards – Michael Johnston (32), Mark Smyth (34), Dave Morley (90) Red Cards – None

Goalscorers – Lee Hunt (6), Jamie Reed (16), Dave Morley (90)

Attendance – 1303