FAW Trophy Round 2 – 19th September 2015
Ground #60 – War Memorial Park, Corwen, Denbighshire
- Attendance: approx. 30-40
- Entrance: FREE
- Programme: N/A
- Cup of Coffee: £1.00
The third weekend of September was a cup weekend for a lot of the teams outside of the top two tiers as the second round of fixtures for the FAW Trophy were being played. Naturally I have a lot of love for Wales’ second oldest cup competition due to Holywell Town’s exploits in it over recent seasons. However the current holders would not be able to defend their title that they won in Llandudno in April as a result of them getting promoted to the Cymru Alliance. The FAW Trophy is only open to teams in the third tier and lower, so it a Welsh version of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for those looking for a comparison.
I did have a list of games that I wanted to see, but was completely unsure what game to visit. After declaring my uncertainty on Twitter, one team replied back and made my choice for me. Corwen (@CorwenFC) tweeted me providing details on their game against St Asaph, with the enticement of tea, coffee and soup! Can’t argue with that, and with them being their first come, they would be the first served ha! Rather conveniently, I would be heading to Corwen on the nearest weekend to Owain Glyndŵr Day (16th September), a day celebrating a local lad who did quite well for himself…..
Corwen is a market town of about 2,400 inhabitants, situated in the south of Denbighshire (although historically in Sir Meirionnydd) and standing on the banks of the upper River Dee beneath the Berwyn mountains. The town is located 10 miles west and upstream from Llangollen, 13 miles south of Ruthin and 12 miles north-east and downstream from Bala and Llyn Tegid.
The town is most famous for its connections with Welsh nationalist hero Owain Glyndŵr, who lived in his nearby manor of Glyndyfrdwy. It was from this manor that he proclaimed himself as Prince of Wales on the 16th September 1400 (hence the day being celebrated), and began a fourteen year campaign to liberate the country from English rule. Corwen celebrates his campaign through a life-size bronze statue of him on horseback which is installed in the middle of the town, and it also commemorates the day he was proclaimed the last true Welsh-born Prince of Wales in 1400.
Corwen was an important staging post for travellers who were heading to and from Ireland due to Thomas Telford’s London to Holyhead road (the modern A5 road) running through the town. Because of this, the town was given the nickname of “The Crossroads of North Wales”. Today the town is a centre for tourism with people staying in its many pubs, hotels and B&Bs to take advantage of the countryside through hiking or mountain biking activities, or through activities on the River Dee.
The town’s local team is C.P.D. Corwen, and they play at the War Memorial Park on Green Lane in the north of the town, and within the meander loop of the River Dee. They currently play in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division [situated in the third tier of the Welsh football pyramid], where they finished in 6th position (out of 16 teams).
Football has been played in Corwen since the game was introduced into Wales due to its location in the north-east of Wales and within the traditional heartland of Welsh football. The earliest mention of football played in Corwen was in the inaugural Welsh Cup competition way back in 1877, where they beat local rivals Bala 1-0 after a replay before being knocked out in the next round by Bangor F.C. in a 0-7 hammering.
The current incarnation of the club appeared in the 1966-67 as ‘Corwen Amateurs’ when they appeared in the Third Division of the WNL. They have been stalwarts of the WNL fluctuating between the leagues during their existence, with the highlight being WNL Premier champions in 1998-99 season and gaining promotion to the Cymru Alliance. Alas their appearance at the second level of the pyramid was a brief one, as they returned back to the WNL after just one season, finishing bottom with 18 points and just 5 wins.
Following their relegation from the Cymru Alliance, the following season the club dropped the suffix “Amateurs” from their name reverting to the name they currently possess. Corwen have played in the WNL Premier Division since they gained promotion from the WNL First Division in the 2003-04 season, and reached the final of the WNL Premier League Cup in the 2010-11 season, losing out to Gresford Athletic 0-1. They also have pedigree in the FAW Trophy, reaching the final in the 2007-08 season, winning three penalty shootouts en route to the final, before they eventually lost to fellow WNL side Rhos Aelwyd 2-4 at Cefn Druids’ ground.
This season Corwen have had a steady start in the WNL, winning two and drawing one of their first four league games leaving them 9th in the table, but with two games in hand on the leading teams. Their previous league game was an impressive 3-1 victory away at Queens Park, whilst their last game was the Welsh Cup 2nd Qualifying Round match against fellow WNL side Penyffordd at the Castle Round, in yet another 3-1 victory.
Their opponents in the cup game were St Asaph City who despite being in the same county, apply their trade in the Welsh Alliance Division 1 league. Since getting promoted as champions from Division 2 last season, the Saints have struggled in the third-tier this season. After six games they were situated in 15th position (out of 16 teams) with only one win and three points from their league campaign so far. However this win was in their previous fixture, as they demolished the struggling Llanfairpwll 7-1, with four goals from Jamie Jones and a hat-trick from Duncan Midgley, to kick-start their struggling season. With both teams coming into form, this game was all set to be a close encounter!
The route down to Corwen would be a long trek for me, especially as I this would be a solo journey. The trip would take about 1 hour from Holywell – not helped by being stuck behind the occasional tractor or slow moving vehicle on the twisty roads through Mold and Ruthin to Corwen. Thankfully I was kept entertained through the excellent Guardian Football Podcasts presented by the fantastic ‘AC Jimbo’ James Richardson and the vast number of knowledgeable pundits.
I arrived at the ground just after half 1 and well within the 2pm kick off deadline, which allowed me to have a good look around the ground. The entrance to the ground is located just after the bridge spanning the River Dee and nearby the Corwen place sign. The complex has a large space for parking just as you enter the sports complex, so there was no issue finding a free spot when I arrived at the ground. Also I was amazed with the landscapes on show, especially the views looking towards Corwen and the Berwyn mountains beyond.
As with many Welsh teams, it is dominated by the huge clubhouse complex in the corner of the ground that houses the changing rooms, tea hatch, toilets and function room. It also has a veranda surrounding the clubhouse which allows supporters to have a raised platform to watch the game, and it would be from where I would watch the match from. As well as the football pitch, the clubhouse is the centre of a local sports hub, having both a tennis court and a bowling green within the vicinity.
In conjunction with the clubhouse, there is a small covered stand in the opposite corner of the ground which supporters can use, although for this match, it remained empty. There are two permanent, brick dugouts for the teams to use as well as segregation barriers that separate the playing surface from the standing area. Although the ground does not have floodlights as of yet, it does have a rather unique addition to the ground. In the far corner adjacent to the clubhouse, there are a ring of stones, known as ‘Gorsedd Stones’ or a ‘Gorsedd Circle’. This circle of stones is to symbolise Corwen hosting the National Eisteddfod way back in 1919.
Entrance for the ground was free as there are no turnstiles or anyone collecting money, so it’s well worth visiting if you’re in the locality. Alas there were no programmes available for the match and I failed to ask if they sold any pin badges or any other club merchandise. However I did notice you can buy Corwen branded training gear via the Macron Wrexham website should you want to display your support for CPD Corwen! If any Corwen mugs or pin badge come available, I shall be the first to buy one for the collection!
Because I had arrived with half an hour until kick off, everyone was still preparing themselves for the match. Both teams were warming up on the pitch whilst being slightly swarmed by midges which had descended from the nearby river. However it would be another insect which would cause an issue to one of the Corwen players as he ended up getting stung on the leg by a wasp during the warm up! Seriously what is the point of wasps in nature other than to annoy people?? The subsequent medical advice from his team mates to “suck the poison out” made me glad he’d not been stung elsewhere awkward…
Anyway the tea hatch was alas not open when I arrived, so I had to wait for some refreshment prior to the game. Despite this I managed to talk to secretary Huw Jones and treasurer/social media coordinator Gavin Billington who were preparing the ground for the match. I told them I was writing a blog and they couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful to me, especially when providing names for players during the match. So I would like to say thank you to everyone at Corwen for providing me with a warm welcome to the club, I really appreciated that!
Thankfully the tea hatch eventually opened up later on and I bought myself a cup of coffee for the reasonable price of £1. Other refreshments such as tea, soup etc were also available although I didn’t spot any food available to buy, such as chocolate bars etc. They weren’t advertised on the menu anyway if there were some available, so I was left a bit peckish by the end of the match.
Just before kick-off, more supporters had arrived at the crowd to swell up the numbers a bit, with more locals arriving whilst the game was being played. A number of them were on the veranda with myself, taking advantage of the raised viewing platform and close proximity to the facilities, whilst the remaining amount stood by the side of the pitch or behind one of the goals. The small stand and River side of the ground remained empty of supporters however.
It wouldn’t be long before both teams ventured out from their changing rooms on the end of the clubhouse and onto the pitch. Corwen were playing in their home kit of red shirts with black trim, black shorts and red socks – the common Macron template as used by Airbus et al. Whilst St Asaph City were in their home strip of mustard yellow shirts with a black off-centre stripe, with mustard shorts and socks.
Conditions for the match would be perfect for a mid-September afternoon, with the sun shining and temperatures in the high teens of degrees, with no breeze present. The condition of the pitch was also brilliant and well worthy a condition for a cup match.
Corwen would be going into the match with a goalkeeping crisis as they only had one goalkeeper available in Jamie Bodden. However Bodden had gone with the Reserves to play away at Chirk AAA leaving Corwen manager, Steve Crompton, with no other option than to play an outfield player between the sticks. Crompton decided to play midfielder Nick Jones as number 1 due to having some experience playing that position in the past.
St Asaph City’s Team Selection:
- Luke Jones,
- Johnny Taylor,
- Jordan Owen,
- Allister Parsonage,
- David Evans (c),
- Paul Fleming,
- Jason Foukes,
- Sam Benbow,
- Jamie Jones,
- Duncan Midgley,
- Jake Walker,
- Joshua Parry,
- Joshua Jones,
- Nicholas Webster
MATCH REPORT – FIRST HALF
The first half proved to be an equal game as I predicted, with the game becoming end-to-end with both teams having early long range chances that tested the goalkeepers. Corwen’s first good chance of the game came after 12 minutes when Andrew Roberts held the ball up and crossed to Scott Evans, whose fierce 20 yard shot drifted just high and wide of the target. A minute later, and superb work from Jason Foulkes on the right flank gave St Asaph a good chance to open the scoring after a defensive scramble in the box. Foulkes squared the ball to central midfielder #8, whose low powerful shot from outside the penalty box just went wide of the post.
Foulkes would be the lynchpin to all of St Asaph’s attacks as he threatened down the right flank, and gave Corwen’s left back no end of trouble. A quarter of an hour into the match and he collected the ball from a free kick before whipping in a curling cross from the right into the box. His cross was connected by Midgely, who nodded a powerful header looking on target to settle in the bottom left corner of the goal. However make-shift keeper Nick Jones was equal to the effort and superbly dived low to save and gather up the ball just on the goal line.
Four minutes later and Foulkes caused more problems for the home defence when the home side failed to clear the danger. Cutting inside, his driving run through the centre caused panic in the Corwen backline, although The Saints’ #7 could only fire his shot over the crossbar.
Corwen would then have a period of dominance where they had a few chances to open the scoring for the afternoon. Their #10 Andrew Roberts had a couple of chances in front of goal which he failed to get on target, whilst their #9 Scott Evans couldn’t get enough of a deflection from an attacking free kick from the left side of the pitch to deflect the ball past the eager St Asaph keeper, Luke Jones. Another came fell into the lap of Ynyr Jones, after Mael Evans had worked hard on the right wing to square the cross in his direction. From 25 yards out, he struck a sweet shot towards goal which looked like it could seriously trouble the visiting keeper, but unfortunately for the midfielder, his cannonball effort rose narrowly over the bar.
Just when it seemed as if the first half would remain goalless, the breakthrough was achieved by the home side on the 37th minute. Tomos Williams cut inside from the left flank and found enough space to fire a low shot towards the bottom corner of the goal. Luke Jones pulled off an amazing save at full stretch to keep out the first effort, but was helpless to stop his block rebound into the path of the onrushing #7 Mael Evans who had reacted first and gambled on his run at the back post. Picking up the loose ball, it was a simple tap-in for Evans who slotted the ball into an empty net from 5 yards out.
Corwen 1 – 0 St Asaph City
With the first goal scored, both teams increased their attacking efforts by looking for a crucial second goal before the interval. A chipped ball from Andrew Roberts towards Scott Evans saw another Corwen effort saved, whilst at the other end, the ever dangerous Foulkes went on another weaving run through the home defence but saw his low shot blocked.
The final chance of the half went to the home side, again resulting from Andrew Roberts making his presence felt in the St Asaph penalty box. A run from Roberts stretched the Saints defence which opened up space between the defenders. This allowed him to cross the ball to Ynyr Jones who had time and space to get a shot on target. Despite Andrew Roberts’ good attacking run, Jones failed to test the keeper as once again he saw his long range opportunity drift wide of the goal.
HALF TIME: CORWEN 1 – 0 ST ASAPH CITY
MATCH REPORT – SECOND HALF
Direct from the kick-off and Corwen were looking for the critical second goal and scupper their opponent’s plans for the second half. Within the space of a minute from the restart, the home side achieved their aim by doubling their lead. Great midfield play saw the ball fall to Tomos Williams on the left wing, who went on a darting run down the byline, evading a couple of challenges before cutting inside to a more left-of-central position and finding space on the edge of the penalty area. With time and space, he picked his spot and thundered a powerful low shot past the helpless Luke Jones and into the bottom corner of the City net.
Corwen 2 – 0 St Asaph City
Corwen could have tripled their advantage three minutes after their second goal, once again through the exploits of goalscorer Williams. Another attacking run opened up space ahead of him, but this time his long range shot went wide. He would get another chance on the 61st minute, when he broke clear after winning a standing tackle from defender David Evans on the left wing. Despite breaking free into the box and rounding the onrushing Luke Jones, City defender Jordan Owen just about got enough of a block on Williams’ shot to take the sting out of the attempt and ensured it trickled wide of the post, and not nestled in the back of the empty net. Scott Evans also continued to cause problems for City’s defence, using his strength and determination to bully the visiting backline into making mistakes.
Ten minutes after falling to a two goal deficit and St Asaph had a great chance to half their disadvantage when they earned a direct free kick in a dangerous position about 20-25 yards from goal. Midgley stepped up and unleashed a curling shot which drifted over the wall and completely beat Nick Jones in goal but failed to dip quick enough and the ball bounced off the crossbar. Very unlucky from Midgley not to score as it was sweetly struck!
As the second half progressed, St Asaph started to throw more players forward as they looked for an opening back into the game, especially as Corwen seemed content to defend their lead. Once again Foulkes was the main architect for most of St Asaph’s chances through his probing runs on the right wing. A cross from Foulkes allowed Midgley to attempt an impressive looking acrobatic scissors kick by the penalty spot. However the forward failed to properly connect with the cross and it was easily gathered up by Nick Jones.
However Corwen’s continuous failure to deal with Foulkes’ increasing influence on the game would prove crucial in the last quarter of an hour of the game. A short corner from the left hand was played out to Foulkes who had plenty of time and space on the edge of the penalty box to pick his spot. He launched a scorching low shot that fizzed through the crowd in the box and into the bottom corner of the net. Possibly the home keeper was unsighted of the shot until very late, but it was still a fantastic effort from the mercurial Foulkes.
Corwen 2 – 1 St Asaph City
With the visitors now finding confidence and momentum in their favour, St Asaph went looking for a late equaliser and force extra time. Corwen were trying desperately to hold onto their slender lead for the final 15 minutes of the game although they were conceding possession far too easily under the intense City pressure, especially when they were punting the ball upfield to their forwards.
St Asaph tested the Corwen defence through a number of corners and free kicks, but the home backline stayed defiant. However they almost surrendered their lead five minutes after City’s first goal, and once again Foulkes would be pivotal. Another positive run from the winger down the right flank, after an unsuccessful Corwen counter-attack, caused panic in the Corwen defence. Foulkes jinked past two slide tackles before cutting inside into the box and unleashing another low shot towards goal, hoping to beat the keeper on his inside post. His venomous shot had Nick Jones beaten, but his chance ricocheted back off the base of the inside post.
The official certainly was not endearing himself to the home supporters as he declared three Corwen counter-attacks to be offside. One of them was marginal but the other two were clear-cut as Scott Evans was being played onside by the St Asaph right back Johnny Taylor. While I do sympathise with the official for having to decide whether a breakaway was offside or not without the help of assistant referees (once again volunteers from each team were used to be linesmen), he certainly got two of the decisions incorrect. Naturally this was annoying the home supporters who were desperate for a third Corwen goal to end St Asaph’s defiance.
The poor judgement from the official almost made Corwen pay dearly as in the first minute of injury time, St Asaph earned themselves a free kick just outside the penalty area. Man of the Match (in my opinion) Jason Foulkes stepped up to take set piece knowing this effort would send the game into extra time if successful. Alas for the winger, his attempted curled over the wall and lifted over the crossbar.
That would be the final attempt of the match as Corwen successfully held onto possession and ran the clock down for the remaining three minutes of injury time to claim a hard-earned victory. Their fourth win in six games ensured Corwen would be in the draw for the 3rd Round of the FAW Trophy draw.
FULL TIME: CORWEN 2 – 1 ST ASAPH CITY
St Asaph were incredibly unlucky not to take this game into extra time especially through the exploits of Jason Foulkes, who Corwen could not defend against for most of the match. The final 15 minutes of the game were fantastic viewing with the visitors desperately trying to pressurise an equaliser, but the home defence just about held firm as well as almost catching City on the counter-attack. I was very impressed by the wing play of both teams with decisive runs from their wingers proving to be influential in the outcome of the match. Finally Corwen must also be incredibly pleased they managed to get through to the next round despite playing with a midfielder in goal.
Once the match was over, I had a quick walk around the ground taking a couple more snaps for this blog before heading back to the car, and setting off on the journey back home. Yet again tractors and slow moving drivers increased my travel time considerably, but I was able to pass the time by listening to the ‘World Football Phone In’ podcast with Dotun Adebayo and Tim Vickery (worth downloading if you like to know about football worldwide) and managed to get home for about 5:15pm.
Corwen is another ground that is worth visiting if you’re a groundhopper. The town itself is your typical quaint Welsh rural town which I always find appealing, and the views from the ground are fantastic. The most endearing feature of the club however were the people, who gave a very warm welcome to me and was very enthusiastic for the blog. So a big thank you to those who helped me on the day, I really appreciated the help!
I would like to wish Corwen all the very best in the next round of the FAW Trophy, and wish both teams great fortunes in their respective league campaigns this season!