UWIC (Cyncoed Road)

The beauty of the Welsh Cup is the occasional oddities the draw throws up. Today was one of those occasions. The University of Wales Institute Cardiff are a team made up of first and second year students and they play in the the fourth tier of Welsh football, the Welsh League division 3. Their home ground is within the Cyncoed Road University Campus.

They are coached by former Welsh International Christian Edwards, who combines this role with a similar one at Aberystwyth whilst also continuing his studies. The opponents today were Bala Town who play in the Welsh Premier, the top tier, and although are having a difficult season results wise they are a team brimming with experience. On paper it seemed a bit of a mis-match.

I booked my train to cardiff back in November, as soon as the draw was made, but it was with some trepidation I left a frost bound North Wales and headed south. I just couldn't see the game being on so I was contemplating chucking my tickets in the bin and looking for a certainty closer to home.

I spoke to the UWIC secretary on the friday evening and he was pretty confident there wouldn't be any problems (last week when South Wales was covered in frost, theirs was one of only two games that went ahead). His confidence was well founded and the game was never in doubt.

It was well worth the trip as, in a major upset, the students stunned the premier league side by dumping them out of the cup.

Bala took an early lead through a Chris Mason shot from the edge of the box (9) before the students came back to lead 2-1. Lewis Murray (13) prodded home before Sam Carrington (18) doubled the advantage. Bala were then reduced to 10 men when left back Mike Thompson was dismissed (35) for an elbow. Bala did continue to press and were unlucky not to be level at the interval when the hit the bar and had two efforts kicked off the line. However the students held firm and were superbly marshalled by skipper Donal Roughneen.

Bala won a penalty within a couple of minutes of the restart, but this was saved by Chris Willis, the UWIC goalkeeper. As the game went on Bala became more frustrated and their challenges became more robust however the students continued to play their football and picked Bala off on the break with two further goals in the last 15 minutes.

An an attack was broken up by the Bala defender, but the attempted back pass was intercepted by Ed Jones (75) who rounded the keeper to slot home.  A superb strike by Murray (88) sealed the win for the students. Bala's misery was further compounded when they were reduced to 9 men in stoppage time Mark Connelly, on his debut, received his second yellow card.

Overall though Bala can have no complaints with the final score. This result puts UWIC into the draw for the last eight and, speaking to a club official, the £12,500 prize money they will recieve for today's victory will keep the club ticking over for a good four seasons. It also leaves the students only three games away from the Europa League...what price for that?

Bala's John Irving shields the ball from UWIC striker Ed Jones.

For the match highlights, courtesy of S4C, then follow this link...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxK8RjtB2dQ&feature=player_embedded

Saturday 29th January 2011
FAW Welsh Cup 4th Round
UWIC 4-1 Bala Town
Attendance: 163


Another round of the vase was upon us today, so soon after the last round was completed as well, and it was a trip north to see the winners of the previous game I seen in the competition. Billingham is 5 miles from Middlesbrough and Synthonia play in the Northern League. The name of the club comes from their past links to ICI when one of their products was a synthetic ammonia, synthonia being an amalgamation of the two words.

The Glamal Engineering Stadium AKA Central Avenue was opened in 1958, after the original was built on for office blocks as ICI expanded, and is a very impressive one boasting a 2000 capacity stand. It is mostly terracing but there are seats on the halfwayline and the views are excellent. The running track around pitch, which doesn't ruin the atmosphere like some other grounds, is used by Billingham Marsh House Runners.

Seeing as Synthonia have only played one game since I last reported on them, a 1-1 draw with Newcastle Benfield, their league position hasn't improved and they remain in 17th position. Tadcaster Albion play in the Northern Counties East League and are currently enjoying a decent season so far. After winning promotion to the premier league as first division champions, they have continued the momentum and currently lie in 3rd position, with games in hand on the top two.

On paper the match up indicated the prospect of a decent game, however the reality was anything but. Synners deservedly found themselves one up at the interval, but it was a largely forgettable first half. James Magowan latching onto a long ball out of defence and the Taddy backline allowed him to run through one-on-one with the goalkeeper to slot home.

The second half was marginally better and Taddy came more into the game but, unfortunately for them, just as they were really pressing, they went two goals down on the hour mark. A superb cross from the left was crying out to be buried and that's exactly what Magowan, as he headed home his second of the game. Tadcaster did get a goal back on 79 minutes when left back Steve Jeff shot home from a tight angle.

The last 10 minutes was end-to-end but Synthonia always seemed to be in control, however in stoppage time Tadcaster thought they grabbed an equaliser but it was ruled out for shirt pulling. So Billingham march on into the last 16 and into the hat for the draw on Monday.

Pigeons beware!!
The Durham FA Challenge Cup, which the Synners currently hold

The office block in the background is built on the site of
Synners original Belasis Lane ground

The queue is testament to how good the pie, peas & chips were!

The evening draws in on Taddy's vase run for this season.

Saturday 22nd January 2011
FA Vase 4th Round
Billingham Synthonia 2-1 Tadcaster Albion
Attendance: 150


Having seen both sides in action over the past few weeks, today's choice of game was a no brainer. Easily the Southern Premier League's game of the day. It was also a bonus that it wasn't too far to travel as Cannock is just down the motorway for me.

Keys Park, which opened in 1995, was one of the few (then) Conference grounds I missed visiting when Chester City originally went down in 2000, so it was good to finally put that right. Over a decade on and some Blues fans still remember how Hednesford ripped them off over the admission prices (they added an extra £3.50 to the normal price on that particular day).

The game didn't really spark to life, especially in the first half, but the Pitmen made most of the running but didn't really trouble the Truro goalkeeper. It was the impressive Danny Quinn, who has recently signed from Heather St Johns, that look the biggest danger and some of his movement was very impressive.

It was Quinn who finally settled the game in the hosts favour midway through the second half when he was allowed time and space in the penalty area and, as the ball sat up nicely, he turned and volleyed home for a stunning winner. This is the second time I have seen him play and i'd say he looks destined for bigger and better things.

Throughout the game Truro looked threatening on the break but their forays in the the Hednesford danger area were snuffed out by a solid defence. The result still leaves Truro sitting pretty at the top of the table but Hednesford look a decent bet for the play offs.

Saturday 15th January 2011
Southern Premier League
Hednesford Town 1-0 Truro City
Attendance: 394

WESTFIELDS (Widemarsh Common)

This weekend the much delayed remaining ties in the FA Vase 3rd round finally took place, over a month after they were originally due to be played! The FA Vase is my favourite of the major competitions and due to circumstances, I was afforded the chance to witness two tasty cup ties...

Sunday 9th January 2011
FA Vase 3rd Round
Westfields 1-2 Billingham Synthonia
(After Extra Time, 1-1 90 mins)
Attendance: 104

At the fifth attempt I finally got to Widemarsh Common, the home of Westfields. After being postponed 3 times on successive Saturday's in December, due to snow and ice, the fourth attempt to get this tie on yesterday was called off due to a waterlogged pitch!

However with the overnight forecast favourable, common sense prevailed and both teams decided to try again today, hence why I managed to get two games in this weekend, besides anything had to be better than Man Ure v The Red Shite on ITV and the ensuing arse kissing of 'King Kenny' on his return to take his team to the Championship...

Like Yesterday's game the cup draw pitted a Midland Alliance team against a Northern League Team. Westfields are comfortably mid table, whilst Billingham are struggling this season having won just four league games. 

Also like yesterday it was a good even cup tie and at the interval both sides went in level having both scored from headers from corners. Phil Glover put the homesters ahead on 39 minutes before Jamie MacGowan levelled four minutes later. Westfields probably played the better football and they had an effort come back off the post and a goalbound attempt cleared just as it was about to cross the line.

Synthonia were a more powerful and direct side and most of their good efforts come from set pieces and in the second half they began to out muscle the home side. Both sides had decent penalty appeals waved away and the game went into extra time.

In the 95th minute Billingham's power finally told and Nathan jamieson grabbed the winner and, as the game became stretched, Synthonia were having a lot of joy on the break. They hit the bar and forced the home keeper into a superb double save but it was the visitors who march into the next round.

There was a crowd of 104 at the game today but there was no sign of Westfields most famous fan, he must have been watching the ITV game! http://www.westfieldsfc.com/news/article/royal-support-for-westfields/

The Sun Valley factory in the background.
As the wind changed direction it gave off a pretty 'fowl' smell!