Saturday, 17 May 2014

Bangor City 2 v Rhyl 0 - Welsh Premier League - Europa League Play Off Final

Saturday 17th May 2014
at the Book People Stadium, Nantporth, Bangor
Welsh Premier League - Europa League Play Off Final

Bangor City (0) 2
Les Davies 64
Chris Jones (pen) 75
Rhyl FC (0) 0
Admission £8. Programme £2. Attendance 1442
Left click all images below to enlarge
Click this LINK for THE66POW Flickr photo gallery
Bangor City:
Jack Cudworth, Declan Walker, Chris Roberts, Michael Johnston, Anthony Miley, Chris Jones (Corey Jones 90+), Ryan Edwards, Robert Jones (Jamie McDaid 67), Les Davies, Damian Allen, Sion Edwards (James Colbeck 88)
Unused Subs: Joe Culshaw, Lolo Hughes, Caio Hywel, Nick Bould
Rhyl FC:
Alex Ramsay, Matty Woodward, Liam Benson (Tom Donegan 76), Ryan Astles, Chris Rimmer, Paul McManus, Mark Cadwallader, Peter Dogan, Carlos Roca (Danny Hughes 54), David Forbes, Steve Lewis
Unused Subs: Tom Roberts, Josh Williams, Danny Laverty, Sean Dowling, Michael Askew
Sent off - Peter Dogan 51 - 2nd yellow card, Tom Donegan 90 - straight red card
Sometimes .... I wish I was a little bit taller.
30 odd miles of the picturesque North Wales coastline, along the A55, is all that separates these two old rival clubs, who despite having not played each other in the league for the last three seasons, while Rhyl were were absent from the WPL, met for the seventh time this season today in all competitions, as fourth placed City entertained the Lilywhites who finished sixth in the league, ten points behind their hosts, in this Europa League Play Off Final.
Last weekend Bangor beat Newtown 1-0 at home to qualify for today's final, whilst Rhyl overcame Carmarthen Town 6-1 in the other semi, which was played at Port Talbot's GenQuip Stadium, due to Carmarthen's Richmond Park pitch having failed a pitch inspection on the Friday afternoon, due to it suffering more than most from the heavy rainfall we were all blessed with last weekend.
Carmarthen have had to switch the venue for several home games this season because of their problematic pitch.
Bangor won 2-0 in the previous meeting between these two sides, less than a month ago, a week after City had been put to the sword by 9 goals to 1 against WPL champions The New Saints (TNS).
The same opposition beat Rhyl 2-0 a few days later too.
Though I moved around the Nantporth ground today taking a few pictures - this was my first visit, I've previously only ever seen Bangor City play home games at Farrar Road, their home until December 2011, which was demolished to make way for an Asda supermarket - when I settled on a shaded sun trap behind the 'Antelope End' goal, to watch the majority of the game, it was apparent that there was a stiff breeze blowing off of the adjacent Menai Strait, which affected the quality of the game somewhat, hampering ball control and distribution and spoiling the game as a spectacle for the most part.
But today wasn't about tippy, tappy stuff for the purists, the result was all that mattered, with in excess 0f £100,000 and a place in next season's Europa League up for grabs.
When Bangor hosted Rhyl in the WPL last month the attendance was 559, today's impressive turnout of 1442 illustrated just how important this fixture was to both teams, the region in general and a few dozen 'football stadium enthusiasts' who had hopped over from England. I'm not a groundhopper myself (obviously), but I travelled over with three people who are, just to make the numbers up and spread the fuel costs, you understand ;-)
The Nantporth Stadium, or Book People Stadium to give it its proper current title, has a capacity of 3,400 including 1,400 seats, divided between the impressive main stand (which also houses a decent sized supporters bar) and a couple of those Atcost identikit stands you see at a lot of new grounds nowadays, along half of the opposite touchline.
The remainder of the ground is made up of uncovered terracing, which knowing the North Wales climate, must mean that there is a big demand in the club shop for blue and white umbrellas, save for the occasional sunny afternoon, like the one we enjoyed today.
Though it wasn't the greatest game I've ever seen, Bangor more than deserved their victory, while Rhyl's fans, who made their presence felt and played their part in creating a lively atmosphere at times, will have been sorely disappointed with their side's indiscipline, which marred their (and Bangor's) biggest game of the season.
Peter Dogan, who had been walking a tightrope since being shown a yellow card inside the first ten minutes, for clattering Sion Edwards with a heavy lunge that could easily have earned him a straight red, was sent off 6 minutes into the second half for a similar challenge on Rob Jones.
Red carded Peter Dogan's walk of shame past the
*sympathetic* Bangor City substitutes bench
Bangor made good use of their extra man advantage and bossed proceedings in the second half.
The game was already over as a contest, when Tom Donegan, (who had only been on the pitch since joining the fray as a 76th minute substitute, shortly after Bangor had scored their second goal), was shown a straight red for a shocking two footed, studs up foul cum amputation attempt, from behind, on Les Davis, who was shielding the ball over by the corner flag while running the clock down in the 90th minute.
Les Davies had put City in front just after the hour, when he picked his spot well and drilled the ball past Alex Ramsay through a crowded goalmouth, the City fans had the scent of victory in their nostrils now and enthusiastically raised the noise level.
While the home side celebrated in front of the Rhyl fans.
The ecstasy and the agony..
Bangor enjoyed their opening goal ... Rhyl captain Paul McManus didn't.
Chris Rimmer was judged to have handled a Damien Allen cross in the 75th minute and the referee Mark Whitby pointed to the spot.
It was possibly a harsh decision, but the home fans, who were buzzing with anticipation weren't unduly concerned about that as cries of "Come on City!" filled the air.
Chris Jones scuffed an unconvincing spot quick that crept under Ramsay's body to compound Rhyl's misery and sense of injustice about the penalty award.
But by the end of the game, they will have known, that they lost their way today, especially in the second half and that they had been beaten fairly and squarely.
Rhyl's supporters knew the writing was on the wall when Donegan was sent off in the dying stages of the game and they left the ground, virtually en masse, missing stoppage time and the trophy presentation, while the Bangor fans generously applauded them as they left, for the backing they had given their side today.
Obviously, there were a few cat calls and hand gestures thrown in from both camps for good measure too ... friendliness and familiarity is one thing, but football rivalries and passion must be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
As the game ended, Bangor's fans invaded the pitch to celebrate with their local heroes and we headed off towards Conway for a jolly up in the Albion pub, once we managed to get out of the car park ... it transpired that a vehicle that was parked blocking four rows of cars in, belonged to one of the players, fortunately somebody went and got his keys, or we might have missed last orders.
FT - Bangor City 2 v Rhyl FC 0
Congratulations to Bangor City Football Club, enjoy your European adventure.
Or, if you prefer:
Llongyfarchiadau i Glwb Pêl-droed Dinas Bangor, yn mwynhau eich antur Ewropeaidd
Kudos to Matthew Harrison (AKA Mophead) of the  LOST BOYOS blog who I met up with today ... top lad!