Pre-Season Friendly – 6th June 2015
The Airfield, Broughton, Flintshire
- Entrance: £2.00
- Cup of Soup: £0.70
4 weeks ago my 2014-15 groundhopping odyssey had been concluded in the wonderful surroundings of Bangor City’s Nantporth Stadium, with the grand crescendo being the imperial Holywell Town completing a historic treble. Little did I realise back then that my post-season break would be so brief and that the start of the 2015-16 season would appear so rapidly. Surprisingly it has started even though technically the opening game of the 2015-16 season would be played before the Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus would be played, which would conclude the “UEFA endorsed” season. Therefore I would entering a strange phenomenon, the ‘Twilight Zone’ if you will, of merging football seasons where I would starting a new season before the previous one has been completed fully. Yep, I am as confused as you are at this point….
The earlier-than-anticipated start was because Airbus UK Broughton were starting their 2015-16 pre-season fixtures much earlier this season, and would be opening their pre-season campaign against an Anglesey/Ynys Môn XI. I will be honest at this point, I had no clue this early fixture was happening and until Mart Roberts, the guy behind the fabulous “We All Stand Together” blog (check the site out!) told me about it. Immediately interested that an Anglesey team were playing at Airbus, and due to the close locality of the game, plus the fact the season would be starting before a lot of other people, it became a ‘must watch’ match.
The reason for this early game was that it favoured both teams who were preparing for future competitions. Airbus UK Broughton had qualified for the 2015-16 Europa League after finishing 3rd in the Welsh Premier League, and The New Saints had won the Welsh Cup (thus giving them the second qualifying spot and eliminating the need for them to go through the Playoff system). With the first legs of the first qualifying rounds of the competition being played on July 2nd (and the draw being made on the 22nd June), the Wingmakers would need to be in full match fitness by then, even if it results in an incredibly long season for them.
Likewise their opponents, the Ynys Môn team, needed match fitness as they were preparing to take part in the Island Games football tournament which was taking place in Jersey this time around. The Island Games is an international multi-sport competition in the same format as the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, except it is open to teams from islands or island ground located around the world. They are generally from islands within larger countries or British crown dependencies, so you would see dependencies like Jersey, Isle of Man etc. compete against islands like Ynys Môn, the Isle of Wight, Western Isles etc. whilst other international islands like Rhodes, Minorca and Gotland also compete.
Within the competition there is a football tournament for both men and women, with there being 4 groups of 4 teams in the men’s tournament. Ynys Môn are in Group B of the football tournament, with the likes of Gotland, Guernsey and the Gibraltar development squad (even though Gibraltar are not an island, they have historically competed in this competition against other British Crown Dependencies). Môn are looking for their second gold medal in the men’s football after they won it in 1999, and an improvement on their last outing in 2011 where they finished 9th. Their first game of the tournament is against the Channel Island team on June 28th, so you can see the need for their fixtures in June.
However this upcoming game would be their second pre-tournament warm-up game after beating Llanfairpwll 3-1 in their first game on the 23rd May. As you’re probably aware or if you’re a regular reader of the blog, The Airfield is a ground I am probably most familiar with especially as I drive past it every weekday morning on the way to work. I have seen it develop from the basic facilities it once had to the fine ground it has become today, and it was the starting and finishing point for my 1888 Challenge in 2013. It is a ground I have also previously blogged about when I saw the home side destroy a lacklustre Bangor City team 5-1 in November last year, therefore I would not be adding to my groundhopping ground total on this occasion!
The well-trodden journey took just 25 minutes from The 94th Minute HQ to Broughton, with the roadworks at the Chester-Wrexham roundabout not causing any problems or delays at the Broughton junction which I initially feared it might do as a result of weekend traffic. En route to the ground, I enjoyed the delights of the best of the Super Furry Animals, seeing as Radio 2 had gone all 60s for the day. The first song on the CD, “Something For The Weekend” seemed very apt for the upcoming game, although “Do or Die” is probably not akin nor probably welcomed to pre-season friendly mantra (or maybe it is….).
I parked up in the left hand visitors’ car park at the top of the Airbus main drive and made the short walk down to the entrance. The weather was superb for the first game of the season, with the sun shining and temperatures high, even if the wind was a bit gusty. Entrance for this game was just £2 (bargain!) although no programme had been produced for this game (not surprising really). Alas due to it being the first game of the pre-season, the club shop wasn’t open and neither was their a snack bar available. The last time I had visited, there was a portable snack stall next to the clubhouse, however on this occasion it was not there at all – I knew I should have brought snacks!!
I had initially decided to stand by the dugouts on the clubhouse side to watch the game, but as the sun had descended behind the ever increasing clouds and the strong breeze had become more sharper in its temperature, I therefore ventured across to the other side of the ground and sit in the main stand to take cover from the nippy breeze! A few minutes after I had taken my seat in the main stand and I had a couple of notes in the notebook (again bringing some attempted professionalism this season), both teams ventured forth from the changing rooms and the 2015-16 season was about to commence!
Prior to kick off both teams observed a minute’s silence for Llanerchymedd player Chris Evans who had sadly passed away earlier in the week at the very young age of 27. My thoughts go out to his friends and family! Once that was perfectly observed, it was time for kick off with the home side starting the game after Môn had decided to switch ends. Airbus were in their traditional kit of all blue with white trim, whilst Ynys Môn were strangely playing in the old all red Champion Welsh international kit.
Airbus would have early domination of the game and naturally the first chance of the game went to the home side five minutes into the match from their #22 Matty McGinn. From outside of the penalty box, he hit a low long range effort but was easily gathered by the keeper who had correctly dived to his left. The home side would have another half chance through forward Chris Budrys after a lobbed pass from McGinn but he was adjudged to be offside before he could find the target. Budrys would have another chance a few minutes later when great build-up from midfield found him in space on the edge of the box. The Airbus #9 hit a fierce low shot but it curled just wide of the right hand post.
Airbus were dominating the play and chances but Ynys Môn had their brief chances and caused some problems through their counter attacking. A mistake in midfield conceded possession to Môn’s #14, who speedily surged towards goal and had to be fouled just outside of the penalty box to stop his dangerous run. Unfortunately for the visitors, the subsequent free kick came to nothing.
Airbus were getting a lot of possession down the flanks and were punishing their opponents by exploiting this space with Ryan Wignall (who was playing in Johnson #10’s shirt) becoming more influential in the game. With balls coming in from the flanks, the balls were being crossed into Budrys’ path and the attacker had a few chances to opening the scoring. Firstly he blazed a shot wide after a delightful through ball had opened up space for him, then he scooped a half chance into the keepers’ hands after a skilful flick open up space, and finally a cross from the right hand side was firmly headed towards goal. However the Môn keeper was equal to the bullet header and pulled off a cracking save to clear the danger.
With Airbus having the lion’s share of the ball possession and chances, it was only a matter of time before they could punish their opponents and on the 36th minute, the opening appeared for the Wingmakers. Another splendid cross from the right hand side found their #15 Ellis Healing, from which the ball glanced off him and into Budrys’ path. The attacker, having squandered earlier chances, made no mistake this time and poked the ball past the advancing Môn keeper to open the scoring for the afternoon. A well deserved goal for the Wingmakers!
Airbus UK Broughton 1 – 0 Ynys Môn XI
With the first goal scored, Airbus continued the domination of the possession and had a few more chances to double their lead. Wignall, who had impressed me during the Bangor City match last season, was causing Môn all sorts of problems and almost got himself on the scoresheet. A fantasticly whipped cross from McGinn from the left hand side found Wignall in space but the forward could only manage to header his effort wide of the post, much to his annoyance.
It wouldn’t be long before the second goal came for the home side on the 43rd minute, with goalscorer Budrys becoming the provider on this occasion. A sumptuous through ball allowed Budrys to break clear of the Môn defence, even though there was a hint of offside from where I was positioned. Anyway he unselfishly pulled the ball back to McGinn once the keeper had committed himself and surged forward from his line to stamp out the danger, allowing the McGinn to tap into an empty net.
Airbus UK Broughton 2 – 0 Ynys Môn XI
Airbus had a chance to score three in the first half when Ashley Williams drove forward and launched a fierce ball towards goal. However this time, the Môn keeper was equal to the fine effort and managed a fantastic save to palm the shot away from danger. That would be the final chance of the first half and the home side went into the break two goals to the good. The visitors would need to improve their performance and obtain more possession if they were to work their way back into this match!
HALF TIME: AIRBUS UK BROUGHTON 2 – 0 YNYS MON XI
With the temperatures dropping and the breezes becoming more chilling, I decided to pop over to the clubhouse to see if there were any vending machines that sold tea/coffee. Thankfully there was a vending machine there and I bought myself a vegetable soup for the costly price of 70p. As you would expect from a vending machine soup, it wasn’t the best as the dried ‘vegetables’ had the texture of dried plastic, but the soup itself wasn’t too bad. In the end it filled a gap in the stomach and stopped any hunger pangs and warmed myself up a bit, which was ultimately the main aim. Hardly Bear Grylls’ survival techniques but needs do what needs must I suppose… Anyway as I ventured back over the main stand, the two teams made their way back out of the dressing rooms and the game restarted just as I returned back to my seat.
As expected, the home side made a wave of changes and saw a number of substitutes make their way onto the field. Despite the number of changes in the home side, their domination of possession continues unabated as they passed the ball around looking for an opening. Their first chance of the half came when one of the players (who had no number nor name on the back of their shirt) skipped past three Môn players as he advanced forward through the centre and into the box. Thankfully for the visitors a last ditch challenge from the Môn defender did just enough to force the Airbus player to hurry his shot as he scuffed it into the visiting keeper’s hands. The home side would get another chance two minutes later when their #19 struck a low shot from outside of the area after the ball arrived to him following a corner. The effort was a decent one but the Môn keeper was more than a match for the shot and comfortably saved it by diving to his right hand side.
Despite Airbus’ continual domination of the ball possession, Môn started to work their way into the game and get more of the ball in the midfield. They would use this to try and catch their opponents on the break by exploiting their pace through darting mazy runs or long through ball meant to split the Wingmakers’ defence. Once again the islanders #14 caused problems for the Airbus team using his superior pace as he broke clear and drove forwards towards goal into the space that had opened up to him. Alas for the forward, his effort towards goal was deflected out by the onrushing Airbus defender and the chance to get a consolation goal had gone!
Môn would almost concede an own goal deep in the second half when a right hand cross from Airbus’ #11 Wade caused problems for the Islanders’ defence. Môn’s #17 tried to clear the ball but positioned himself incorrectly as the cross deflected off him and span towards goal. Thankfully for the defender, the keeper back-pedalled just enough to tip the looping deflection over the bar and remove the danger.
Alas for Môn, they couldn’t withhold the pressure for too long and conceded a third goal around the 80 minute mark. At this point I would tell you how they scored but because I was picking up my empty soup cup which had been blown by the wind, I completely missed the goal. All I seen was the ball in the back of the net and some of the supporters clapping their appreciation. Having looked on Twitter afterwards I found that the scorer had been James Murphy but at the time I was fuming with myself for missing the goal. That’s what you get for trying to Keep Wales Tidy!!
Airbus UK Broughton 3 – 0 Ynys Môn XI
With the third goal going in, the game fizzled out as expected for a pre-season game with neither side wishing to cause any injuries to their players. Glenn Rule had a half chance to score the fourth of the afternoon but he could only manage to fire his half-volley handsomely over the crossbar after the ball had bounced in his direction. That would be the final action of the game and the official blew for full time a couple of minutes after the Rule chance.
FULL TIME: AIRBUS UK BROUGHTON 3 – 0 YNYS MON XI
Once the final whistle had been blown, it resulted in me making a sharp dash back to the car as the wind was starting to become more cutting and cooling, which was not expected as a ventured into the ground earlier in the afternoon. Even with a fleece on, the breeze had lowered temperatures and it was a different atmosphere from the start of the match. It was then a short hop through the village to visit close friends Cheryl & Chris and pop in for a cup of tea and a catch-up, before continuing on my homeward journey along the A55.
All-in-all, it was a pretty comprehensive display from Airbus who would be pleased with their performance and run-out in their first match of the season. The Wingmakers had a majority of the possession and never looked like losing the match despite a couple of occasions when Môn hit them on the counter-attack. A great start which Andy Preece can take a lot of positives from!
As for Ynys Môn, more work will be needed if they’re to claim the gold medal in the Island Games as they never really forced their way into the match and conceded possession too cheaply. However today was about gaining experience working together as a team and most importantly raising fitness levels. Plus no-one got any injuries which is another bonus! It was a good start to the season and thankfully I never commenced this season with a drab 0-0 – it’s a good omen (I hope)!
I would like to send my best wishes to Airbus UK Broughton in the Europa League and hope they get either a money-spinning tie and hope they progress far in the competition. Also I would like wish the Ynys Môn team pob lwc in their Jersey quest – let’s hope the lads bring home the gold medal! It would be fantastic for North Welsh football if they did!