Date of Visit: 11th August 2017
Competition: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One
Ground Number: 95
- Distance Travelled: 26,5 miles
- Travel Time: 50 minutes
- Club Name: Llangollen Town Football Club
- Ground: Tower Fields, Dinbren Road, Llangollen LL20 8EB
- Club Colours: Blue and claret striped shirts, blue shorts and socks
- League Position: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division 1 [11/08/2017]
DIRECTIONS & CAR PARKING
From Llangollen Bridge / Eastwards:
From the A539 (Mill Street), turn up to Wharf Hill and drive up the hill going over the Llangollen Canal. Once over the small bridge, turn left onto Dinbren Road and follow the road up the hill. Eventually you will see the entrance to the Tower Fields sport complex on the left hand side. Pass through the gated entrance and follow the road through the playing fields and the football pitch will appear in front of you.
From the A542 continue to head towards Llangollen before turning left up into Tower Road (a brown sign next to the junction will be an indicator it is the correct junction). Follow the tree-lined narrow road up the hill, passing a camping site on the left-hand side before arriving at the sports ground entrance on the right-hand side.
Car Parking Information:
The ground has a good sized car park just inside the entrance, and beside the changing room complex although this can get easily filled up quickly. However there is grass space to park alongside the road that runs through the sports ground area and divides the football pitch from the cricket pitch.
Club Established/Founded: 1908
- 3 x Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division Winners
- 2 x Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division 1 Winners
- 1 x North East Wales FA Challenge Cup Winners
- 1 x WNL Premier League Cup Winners
- 1 x WNL Division 1 League Cup Winners
- 1 x NEWFA Horace Wynne Cup Winners
- 1 x WNL President Cup Winners
- Founding Members of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
Highest League Finish: Cymru Alliance – 11th [2009-10]
- Welsh National League Division 1 – 5th
- Welsh Cup – Qualifying Round 1
- FAW Trophy – Round 2
- WNL Division 1 League Cup – Round 2
Football has been played in Llangollen since the pioneering days that football was brought into Wales, and as such the town is deep within the traditional heartland of Welsh football. The first Llangollen side appeared in the very first Welsh Cup competition in 1877-78 when they reached the second round of the new cup tournament for Wales before being knocked out by Gwersyllt Foresters 1-2. Later on around the late 1880’s, another team by the name of ‘Vale of Llangollen’ would appear in the Welsh Cup a couple of times, reaching the second round of the 1888-89 competition also, this time losing to Rhostyllen Victoria after a replay. Just around the turn of the century, another Llangollen club would appear and apply their trade in the Denbighshire League, competing in the 1898-99 campaign and finishing in seventh position. They would compete in the league again in the 1900-01 season, this time finishing bottom of the eight team league with only a draw from their entire season.
The current club representing the town of Llangollen is ‘Llangollen Town’ and they were founded in 1908. They would first appear in the Welsh Cup during the 1922-23 season when they reached the third round before being heavily beaten by Oswestry 0-6 at home. During the 1930’s and right up to the start of the Second World War, Llangollen would play in the local Cefn & District League. For the vast majority of the time spent playing in the Cefn & District League, Llangollen would finish towards the bottom end of the table and actually finishing bottom for two continuous seasons between 1933 to 1935. Their best league placement within the league was their final season before the league and club were suspended due to the outbreak of war. In the 1938-39 season, Llangollen would finish in fifth position (out of nine clubs) with six victories and three draws achieved from the sixteen game season.
The post war period would see Llangollen Town join the newly created Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) in 1945, finishing in fifth position (out of the inaugural 12 teams) in the league’s debut season in 1945-46. This time would become a successful period for Llangollen, which was started in the 1947-48 season when the club finished in the top three of the league, missing out on the league championship by just four points. Llangollen would also have a brilliant cup run in that season’s Welsh Cup, reaching the fifth round of the national cup before being eventually eliminated by Bangor City 3-1 at Farrah Road.
Llangollen Town’s 1947-48 Welsh Cup Campaign:
- R1: Brymbo (h) 4 – 1
- R2: Holt Nomads (a) 2 – 3
- R3: Gresford Athletic (h) 5 – 1
- R4: Llandudno (h) 3 – 2
- R5: Bangor City (a) 1 – 3
The club would continue to compete in the top division of the WNL structure until 1952 when they were relegated to Division 2 having earned just four points from 30 league games. However their stay in the second division would only be a brief stay as they would return back to the first division as the 1952-53 WNL Division 2 champions, winning 27 of their 30 league games. Llangollen would continue to play in the top WNL division throughout the 1950’s and reaching their highest position of fifth place in the 1954-55 season, during the decade of football.
They would start the 1960’s with another good Welsh Cup run with saw Llangollen reach the fifth round once again. After defeating local sides Chirk AAA and Llay Welfare in the second and third rounds respectively, they would lose heavily to Bethesda Athletic in the fourth found. However Llangollen were given a reprieve when it was found that Bethesda had played an ineligible player during the fixture and were subsequently dismissed from the competition. Alas Llangollen’s luck could not carry them any further into the competition as they suffered a heavy 1-8 defeat at the hands of Borough United at Llandudno Junction.
Llangollen Town’s 1959-60 Welsh Cup Campaign:
- R2: Chirk AAA (h) 5 – 4
- R3: Llay Welfare (h) 2 – 1
- R4: Bethesda Athletic (a) 3 – 7 [Bethesda thrown out of the Welsh Cup]
- R5: Borough United (a) 1 – 8
Llangollen would repeat the Welsh Cup experience five years later when they reached the fifth round for the third time in their history. Victories over Druids United, Ruthin and Blaenau Ffestiniog (after a replay) set up a chance to gain revenge as they faced Borough United once again at Llandudno Junction. They did improve upon their result from last time but only by scoring an additional goal from the previous match as they conceded eight goals once again to get eliminated from the competition by a 2-8 scoreline. Despite this loss, that season’s cup campaign showed Llangollen were improving as a team, and a league placing of fifth position that season confirmed this fact.
Llangollen Town’s 1964-65 Welsh Cup Campaign:
- R2: Druids United (a) 3 – 2
- R3: Ruthin (h) 4 – 2
- R4: Blaenau Ffestiniog (h) 1 – 1 [3 – 0 after the replay]
- R5: Borough United (a) 2 – 8
Llangollen Town’s improvement continued and they finished the 1966-67 season in the runners-up spot, just two points behind league champions Brymbo Steelworks. Finally after competing in the WNL for 22 years, they would claim their maiden league championship in the following season by winning the 1967-68 WNL Division 1 title. Winning 25 of their 30 league games, Llangollen claimed their inaugural title by a margin of four points from their nearest rival Denbigh Town. Curiously though, the 1966-67 season would the last time that Llangollen Town would reach the first round of the Welsh Cup for nearly 20 years. After such cup pedigree throughout the 1960’s, it wouldn’t be until the middle of the 1980’s when Llangollen would reach the first round proper once again.
Despite the lack of Welsh Cup games, Llangollen Town would continue to be one of the strongest teams in the WNL going into the 1970’s. They finished in the runners-up spot during their title defending season, and would finish in third place in the 1970-71 season (with Brymbo Steelworks winning the league on both occasions – see the Brymbo blog for more information about them during this period). Llangollen would confirm their status as being one of the strongest teams in the Wrexham Area by subsequently winning their second league championship in the 1971-72 season. The Town beating defending champions Brymbo Steelworks to the WNL Division 1 trophy by just a solitary point.
Llangollen’s title defence ended in heartbreak when they just missed out on their third league title by two points, finishing third behind Ruthin Town and eventual champions Denbigh Town. They would finish runners-up to another Denbigh Town victory in the 1973-74 season although they would go on to win some additional silverware that season in the form of their first North East Wales FA Cup, by beating Buckley Rovers in the final. It was a worthy victory for Llangollen in the regional competition as they had finished as NEWFA Cup finalists in three of the last four cup finals before they finally succeeded.
They would reach the NEWFA Cup final the following season, playing Buckley Rovers once again, but it would be their opponents who would be victorious and gain some payback for the previous season’s final. Llangollen would appear in another NEWFA Cup final a few seasons later, but as with the majority of their final appearances, they would fall at the final hurdle as they lost the 1977-78 final to Cefn Albion. That appearance would be a rare occurrence for the club as they encountered a slow decline during the mid-1970’s and early 1980’s which would see the club no longer compete for the title but become a mid-table finishing team in the division.
By 1984-85, Llangollen had fallen into the second tier of the WNL pyramid (now called ‘Division 1’ with the top tier titled the ‘Premier Division’), where they finished third behind Llay Royal British Legion and Penycae. It would also see them reappear in the first round of the Welsh Cup for the first time in 18 years when they reached the second round before being defeated by Caernarfon Town. They would win the division in the following season by winning the league by a margin of eight points from Overton Athletic. However instead of getting promotion to the Premier Division, Llangollen would run just the one side meaning the first team would drop down to Division 2 and take up the position that their reserve side had been in. The first team would compete Division 2 for a few seasons before further problems forced them to resign from the league completely in 1988.
Llangollen Town would return back to the WNL fold a year later, starting off at the bottom of the WNL pyramid. It would not be until 1996 when they finally returned back to the WNL Premier Division once again. During that period ascending through the WNL divisions, Llangollen would reach the final of the 1991-92 Horace Wynne Cup, losing to Saltney CC after extra time, although they would eventually win the competition in 1996 when they defeated Wrexham-based side Brickfield Rangers. 1996 would be prove to be one of the club’s best seasons since the early 1970’s, as they completed a cup double (as well as gaining promotion) by obtaining the WNL Division 1 Cup by beating Bala Town.
Llangollen Town would play in the WNL Premier Division for the next thirteen seasons, where they would often finish in a mid to lower half position in the table. They would win the 1999-2000 WNL Premier Division Cup when they beat Penley 3-1, but that would be the only highpoint in an otherwise quiet period in the club’s history. Nonetheless this quiet period would end in the 2008-09 season when Llangollen Town surprised everyone and won the WNL Premier Division title by five points from their nearest rival Penycae. It was a huge turnaround for the club after having narrowly avoiding relegation the previous season with a young squad. It would be the shrewd signings of players who had experience of playing in the higher leagues had ensured that Llangollen would finally gain promotion to the Cymru Alliance for the first time in their history.
Their stay in the Cymru Alliance would only be brief as they would return back to the WNL fold the following season. Despite finishing a respectable 11th position out of 17 teams in the league, and earning 36 points from their 32 game season, they would be one of ten clubs who would suffer relegation to the respective feeder leagues. This mass relegation of the Cymru Alliance was a result of the Welsh Premier League restructuring its format and reducing the number of teams in the league from 18 teams to the now used format of 12 teams. With many northern-based teams facing the drop from the WPL, and teams being promoted from the feeder leagues, the mass cull of CA teams was required that season. Any other season and Llangollen would have easily stayed up in the league! They would also achieve their best Welsh Cup run in years as the club reached the third round of the national cup before being defeated by Llandudno Junction by a single goal. It would seem Llandudno Junction based teams continually make life difficult for Llangollen in the Welsh Cup…
Llangollen Town’s return back to the WNL Premier Division in the 2010-11 season would see the club unable to challenge for promotion as nearly all of the squad who had played in the Cymru Alliance had left Llangollen to join other clubs. This meant that the players who had played in the reserve side the previous season would have to be promoted to the first team. In spite of this massive rebuilding and consolidation exercise, Llangollen finished in a respectable ninth place in their first season back. They would finish in ninth, sixth and eleventh places respectively for the next three seasons before suffering relegation down to the fourth tier of Welsh football as they ended up in fifteenth position (out of sixteen teams) at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. Their points tally of 18 points from 30 games would not be enough to avoid relegation to Division 1 and they missed out on safety by just a single point, with Brickfield Rangers retaining their place in the division by the tightest of margins.
Despite being one of the favourites to challenge for the 2015-16 Division 1 title, Llangollen could only finish in fifth position in what proved to be a competitive league that season. They would earn 46 points from 24 league games but end up being 12 points behind eventual league winners Cefn Albion. Last season would see the club retain fifth position in the league having won 12 of their 22 league games and earning 39 points, although they would finish further away from the league champions and promotion back to the WNL Premier Division, positioned 15 points behind Lex Glyndwr at the end of the season.
Llangollen Town’s previous competitive match results:
- Sat 5th August: Plas Madoc (a) [NEWFA Cup 1st Round] 3 – 5
Llangollen officially started their league season with a fixture in the first round of the North East Wales FA Challenge Cup. They were drawn to play away against newly created side Plas Madoc, who will play in the North East Wales League for the upcoming season. On paper, the more established and higher positioned side of Llangollen should have been favourites for this encounter and progress to the next round. However Town would suffer a shock cup exit at The Muga in Cefn Mawr, losing the encounter to the rookie side by the scoreline of 3-5.
THE OPPOSITION – ACREFAIR YOUTH
Acrefair Youth’s previous competitive match results:
- Tue 1st August: Rhydymwyn (a) [NEWFA Cup Preliminary Round] 2 – 14
Acrefair Youth have not had the best of times in the WNL Division 1 in the past few years, having conceded over 100 goals in the past four seasons and finishing in the bottom two positions for the past three seasons. Last season, the side based next to the world famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, finished the 2016-17 league campaign at the bottom of the table with a goal difference of -140. They managed to achieve two wins from their 22 game league campaign, beating Maesgwyn both home and away, although a deduction of three points ensured they would finish the season with just three solitary points.
This season has not started so well for them as they lost in the preliminary round of the North East Wales FA Challenge Cup to fellow WNL Division 1 side, Rhydymwyn, by the heavy scoreline of two goals to fourteen. Debutante Ross Sumner having the perfect start for the Vicarage Road outfit by scoring six goals that evening, and getting five of those goals within the first 15 minutes of the game. Adam Davies also got himself six goals during the match, whilst Andy Jones completed the scoring with a brace.
TOWER FIELDS GROUNDHOP
Attendance: 50 approx.
Weather Conditions: Overcast and windy with sporadic light drizzle showers
- Entrance: FREE
- Programme: N/A
- Cup of Coffee: £1.00
The second week of August can only mean one thing in Welsh football…the start of the football season, and it is a welcome sight indeed! I had seen a vast amount of pre-season friendlies prior to this new season commencing, mostly involving my beloved Holywell Town (see one such pre-season friendly at Prestatyn Sports here), which have helped whet the appetite for football. Alas such games are what they say they are – they’re just friendlies, with nothing really riding upon them other than improving the players’ match fitness, helping new players settle into teams and working on new tactics for the season ahead. To continue with the food analogy, they are just the ‘starter’ to the ‘main meal’ which was about to arrive…the new football season, and I was super excited!
In conjunction to the new season commencing, my own personal goal was gathering momentum also. Throughout the period between seasons, I was able to visit a number of grounds which have helped boost up my groundhop number to beyond 90 grounds. With my set target of 100 visited grounds now so tantalisingly near, the new season allows me to surge forward towards that goal as fixtures can be planned more thoroughly and organised. Organising fixtures during the pre-season can be a little haphazard as games are (and were) often changed at sometimes short notice. Anyway coming into the start of the season, I was on 94 grounds and I was eager to find a 95th ground to continue towards that magical landmark of the groundhop century.
Looking through the opening league fixtures to the new season, I spotted a particular game which would allow me to visit a new ground but on a Friday evening. This would potentially enable me to either visit another new ground on the Saturday or head to Denbigh to watch Holywell Town take on Denbigh Town in their Cymru Alliance opener (I would subsequently travel to Barmouth & Dyffryn United in the end). The fixture certainly stood out from the other league fixtures being played as it was being held at a ground I had been planning to visit for a long while, so this would be the perfect opportunity to finally tick the ground off the list. Therefore my choice to start the 2017-18 season would be a visit to the glorious town of Llangollen to watch the local side of Llangollen Town take on Acrefair United in a Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division 1 opener. As I had not seen Llangollen Town since I saw them play at Saltney Town in the WNL Premier Division a couple of years ago (blog can be found here), I was looking forward to seeing them again!
I always enjoy visiting the Denbighshire town of Llangollen as it’s one of my favourite places in North Wales, and any excuse to travel to ‘Saint Collen’s Parish’ (the literal English translation of ‘Llangollen’) is always seized upon. There is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than enjoying a coffee (or something stronger) on the outdoor decking of the Corn Mill gastropub, and watching the River Dee cascade over the rocks situated beside the old mill. Plus you can always get great views of the river when crossing the historic stone bridge that spans it, although this can become naturally busy during peak tourist periods. Should you be lucky, you may see boats of white water enthusiasts flow along the river and under the bridge, taking advantage of the great white water facilities that are located within Llangollen. It’s not something that I am interested in actually doing, but it is pretty intriguing seeing orange dinghies float through a tourist crammed town.
Alas on this occasion I would be unable to visit the pleasant Corn Mill or take a walk in the scenic town as this was an evening game and kick-off would be at 18:15. Unfortunately the earliest I could set off from 94th Min HQ was a good hour before the game would start, giving myself enough time to reach Llangollen considering my journey would take about 50 minutes to complete. There are a number of routes to reach Llangollen from the HQ, but I decided to take the more charming journey of going through Mold, Rhydtalog, Llandegla and over the picturesque, if daunting, Horseshoe Pass (past the bikers haunt of the Ponderosa Cafe) to eventually head down into the Dee Valley and Llangollen itself. It would also make it easier for me to find the ground by coming into the town from a westerly direction, or so I thought…
Now I knew that the ground was located up a narrow road that branched off the main road to the left, and so under instruction from the satellite navigation (which had the post code of the ground that was taken from the club’s website), I made a left turn off the road and up a narrow road towards what I thought would be in the direction of the ground. Alas it would seem that the post code was not correct as the further I travelled up the road, there less it seemed a football pitch was present, and my suspicions were confirmed when the sat-nav proclaimed that I had arrived at my destination when in reality I was outside of someone’s house. Now unless they have been blessed a massive back garden with included a Welsh league standard football ground, the post code was incorrect!
A quick check on the Google Maps application on my phone indicated that I was north of the ground and confirmed my suspicions that I had indeed taken the wrong turn – I should have taken the following left turn! So I returned the direction I had come from and back onto the main road, heading into Llangollen further and looking out for the next left turn. Eventually the correct turn off was discovered further down the main road (it was the turn off which had the brown information sign beside it) and drove up the narrow road to hopefully the football ground. About a minute’s drive up the narrow road, and successfully avoiding the passing cars coming down the hill, the entrance to the Tower Fields sports ground appeared on the right hand side.
The Tower Field sports ground is a large open space to the north of Llangollen, which overlooks the world-famous Llangollen International Eisteddfod pavilion and showgrounds, as well as the popular Llangollen Canal waterway which runs to the south-west of the grounds. Because of its elevated position above the town, the ground has idyllic panoramic views of the Dee Valley with the greenness of summer in full bloom when I arrived at the ground. The grounds are flanked by Dinbren Road to the north and east of the fields, as well as being split into two by a road, which connects to Dinbren Road in the bottom east corner of the grounds, and runs all the way to the main entrance / exit of the site. The town’s rugby team, Clŵb Rygbi Llangollen, play within the grounds as well as Llangollen Cricket Club who play on the field to the east of the dividing road, whilst Llangollen Town Football Club play on the pitch to the west of the road.
There is an ample sized car park located at the main entrance of the ground although when I arrived the car park was considerably full with no available spaces. Clearly the town was out in force for the opening game of the season! As a result, I had to park on the side of the dividing road, which caused a sickening scrape under the car as I clipped a small curb trying to park up – not exactly ideal but no obvious damage was caused!
Next to the car park and beside the main entrance to the grounds is the main stand complex which houses the changing rooms, as well as a small tea room. The stand also has approximately 50 covered seats, with ample room for sheltered standing for supporters both behind and to the sides of the two row of seats. I did expect to see some kind of stand at the ground as I knew Llangollen had been playing in the Cymru Alliance a few years ago, so the standard of the ground must have been decent. However I was still impressed with the little stand and its rows of sheltered seats, and it must certainly be one of the better grounds in the fourth tier of the Welsh football pyramid (at least in North Wales).
As well as the main stand, which runs along the northern side of the pitch, there is a concrete path and a permanent dividing barrier running around the other sides of the pitch, enabling supporters to stand and watch the game. The ground has permanent brick dugouts with the home dugout on the northern side of the pitch, next to the main stand, and the away dugout on the opposite side of the pitch. Even though the club played for a season at the second tier, the ground does not have any floodlights, something which is commonplace for clubs in the Wrexham League structure.
Because of my unforeseen tardiness in arriving at Tower Fields, the elevated main stand was pretty full with supporters already sitting down or standing up behind the two rows of seats. Resultantly I decided to stand beside the main stand and lean on a barrier, which was in a decent position, and provided a good view of the pitch even if it was in an uncovered position (not exactly ideal when the sporadic light drizzle showers fell upon the pitch during the game but I had a waterproof jacket on, so I wasn’t too concerned). To the left of my standing position I did spot a couple of gentlemen with notepads and little books – clearly they must have been groundhoppers also! This was confirmed when I overheard them discuss the other grounds they had visited in the WNL, and it seemed they had been to more grounds than I had! Anyway I was going to say hello to the pair of them but they moved about throughout the game (another groundhopper trait) and was unable to speak to them, so hello if you were there and I hope you enjoyed the game!
I would not have to wait long until the teams descended from the changing rooms and onto the pitch for this evening’s game. Tonight’s visitors to Tower Fields, Acrefair Youth, came onto the pitch first in their Macron kit of tangerine shirts (with a thick white stipe at the top), white shorts and tangerine socks. They were quickly followed by the host side who would be competing in their home strip of blue and claret striped shirts, blue shorts and blue socks. For this game there would be only the single official with a member of either side filling in linesman duties for this evening’s game, something which is a common sight in the lower leagues of Welsh football.
With both teams ready for kick-off and for the league campaign to begin, I was looking forward to the both the game and the 2017-18 season ahead! Hopefully both the match and the season would be great ones!!
MATCH DETAILS – FIRST HALF
From the kick-off, it would be Llangollen who would take control of the match by having the lion’s share of ball possession, which they would use to create a considerable number of chances on Acrefair’s goal. The home side would get an opportunity after a couple of minutes when a corner allowed one of Llangollen’s defenders a free header on goal, but he could only divert the cross over the crossbar.
This would be the start of Llangollen’s dominance in the first half as they continued to pepper the Acrefair goal without actually breaking the deadlock. Firstly their #11 had a great chance when a squared ball from #6 found the winger in an unmarked central position in the penalty area, but the forward blazed the ball over the bar. Next Town’s forward, their #9, attempted a 20 yard low drive towards the goal, but could only see his effort fizz past the left-hand upright. He would get another long range attempt a few minutes later, this time through a direct free-kick. This time from 25 yards out, he tried to curl the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal, but the visiting keeper was equal to the set piece and managed to superbly save the effort. However the keeper could only deflect the powerful shot back into the six yard box and into the path of the onrushing #2 who attempted to tuck away the rebound. Once again the Acrefair keeper came to his side’s rescue with an instinctive snap save by diverting the ball onto the right-hand post and eventually out of play and subsequent danger.
Throughout the first half, Llangollen’s #11 would continue to cause trouble for the Acrefair defence as he continually exploited gaps which would appear in the visiting defensive line. On the 26th minute he glanced a header over the bar after an excellent cross from the attacking full back #2 on the right-hand flank. A few minutes later and the winger got even nearer to scoring when a curling shot, which took a considerable deflection off Acrefair’s #6, looked as if it was spinning into the top of the net. However another stretching save from the off-balanced Acrefair’s goalie meant resulted the spinning shot was just about diverted onto the crossbar by his fingertips. #11 would have a third chance on goal a couple of minutes after his second chance, after a defensive error from Acrefair’s #2, opened up enough space in front of goal to attempt a goalward shot. Despite having a golden chance to break the deadlock, his shot from the edge of the box could only curl agonisingly wide of the right-hand post.
Just when you thought it might not be Llangollen’s evening after so many good goal-scoring chances were spurned, their luck finally improved. Around the half hour mark, a long ball from the creative #6 in the heart of the Llangollen midfield was directed towards #9 who was advancing towards the Acrefair goal. It looked as if the Acrefair defence had the direct pass intercepted, however poor communication between the visiting players resulted in the two centre backs crashing into each other as they jumped to stop the pass. This collision ensured the ball diverted off one of the centre backs and into the path of Llangollen’s #9, who had now found himself in a one-on-one scenario with the goalkeeper. Showing calmness under pressure, the striker coolly rounded the onrushing keeper, and slotted the ball into an empty net. Finally the home side had overcome the Acrefair defence!
Llangollen Town 1 – 0 Acrefair Youth
With the Acrefair resolve finally breached, Llangollen would increase the pressure on the visiting defence and within five minutes of taking the lead, they would double their advantage. Yet again another defensive effort from Acrefair would be their downfall as a through ball from the Llangollen midfield was insufficiently intercepted by the now stretched Acrefair defensive line resulting in Llangollen’s #9 finding himself in another one-on-one situation. This time the forward blasted the ball past the helpless diving goalkeeper to grab a quick-fire brace. Acrefair were becoming the architects of their own downfall!
Llangollen Town 2 – 0 Acrefair Youth
Two minutes after going two goals ahead in the match, and Llangollen would extend their lead further on the 38th minute, again through the exploits of their lone striker. Another long ball, this time from Llangollen’s #2, found the advancing #9 who had successfully beat the offside trap and was advancing through the centre towards goal. The forward latched onto the diagonal pass from the right flank and calmly slotted the ball past the Acrefair goalkeeper to achieve a seven minute hat-trick! The Acrefair defence was starting to look more ruinous than the walls of Castell Dinas Brân which overlooking the ground and town!
Llangollen Town 3 – 0 Acrefair Youth
By this point, Acrefair were desperate to reach the half-time interval but unfortunately the situation would worsen for them before they could retreat back to the changing rooms. On the 40th minute, the visiting side failed to deal with a corner effectively after Llangollen’s #2 managed to rise above his marker and deftly divert the cross from the left corner towards the back post. There he found the alert striker #9 who had reacted quickest to the pass and successfully sidefoot volley the ball past the scrambling goalkeeper from about 2-3 yards away from the goal line. A classic goal poacher’s goal there to earn his fourth goal of the game!
Llangollen Town 4 – 0 Acrefair Youth
With half time almost upon the teams, the game would produce another goal before the fifteen minute interval in play. Right on the stroke of half time, another costly individual error from Acrefair would prove advantageous for the free-flowing Llangollen team. Another long ball was punted forward towards #9, this time from their centre back #5. The pass was a touch too powerful for the striker to control the ball and drifted over his head and towards the Acrefair goalkeeper. However the goalkeeper had misjudged the flight of the ball and found himself in ‘no-man’s land’ as the ball bounced in front of him and looped over his head. Despite the very best efforts of the number one, his scrambled attempt was in vain as the ball bounced into the empty net. An embarrassing mistake from the goalkeeper, who had been Acrefair’s best player up to this point!
Llangollen Town 5 – 0 Acrefair Youth
It wouldn’t be long after after the fifth goal had been scored that the official blew his whistle for half time, much to Acrefair’s relief. After a frustrating opening half-hour for the home side, with many decent chances having been unsuccessfully converted, five goals in fourteen minutes had virtually assured Llangollen of the three points this evening.
HALF TIME: LLANGOLLEN TOWN 5 – 0 ACREFAIR YOUTH
During the half time period, I decided to get myself a cup of coffee to warm myself up from the relentless breezes, which were distinctly getting cooler throughout the evening. I bought a cup of black coffee from the tea room, which was located just inside the main stand, for the usual price of £1. Inside the tea room, there were a couple of pennants from previous opponents hanging on the wall, as well as some trophies that were displayed in a glass case situated in the far corner of the room. It is worth noting that the people working in the tea room were very welcoming and friendly, which I appreciated!
MATCH DETAILS – SECOND HALF
Just as in the first half, Llangollen started the spritelier in the second half, and had their first chance a minute into the half. Llangollen’s #10 managed to create enough space on the edge of the penalty box to attempt a shot on goal, but he could only manage to direct his effort over the cross bar. Despite this early missed opportunity, Llangollen would not have to wait long before extending their lead even further. On the 53rd minute, the home side would continue to increase their advantage when a corner was successfully headed into the net by one of the players who managed to get above everyone who had congregated around the penalty spot. I was unable to see who scored it but it was a firm headed shot which the Acrefair keeper was unable to react to.
Llangollen Town 6 – 0 Acrefair Youth
On the 55th minute of the match was the game’s most controversial point occurred. After a quick counter-attack from Acrefair, their #9 striker was tackled and brought down by Llangollen’s #6 in a rather strong challenge. From my position, it looked as if it was a foul and a free kick should have been awarded but the referee did not agreed and let the play continue. This decision brought the ire of the Acrefair management staff who were incensed by the decision, especially as the challenge had left their striker injured on the floor. After many choice words and anger aimed towards the official, the referee stopped the game and eventually came over the visiting team’s dugout. The referee would book one of the substitutes for dissent whilst sending one of the more vocal coaching staff off the field of play, and behind the barriers. Needless to say, this decision infuriated the Acrefair bench further!
Despite the anger coming from the bench, Acrefair were starting to maintain ball possession and subsequently create some attacking plays for themselves. They would have their first good chance on goal on the 64th minute when a through ball from midfield allowed their #9 to rapidly advance down the left flank before cutting inside towards goal. Under pressure from the challenging defenders, the forward could only scuff his shot which ensured the home keeper could easily gather the ball. Despite it being their first chance on goal, Acrefair were finding their way into the game a lot more and starting to pressurise the home defence more.
Even though Acrefair were starting to make the game more competitive, Llangollen continued to create goalscoring opportunities for themselves. Firstly a stretched shot from #11, trying to connect onto a cross from #6, was saved after a scramble in the box. Then a long through ball for #9 resulted in another one-on-one scenario for the forward. Unfortunately he was unable to add to his goal tally on this occasion as he could only dink the ball over the crossbar. Finally a powerful from outside the penalty area from #6 was superbly saved by the diving and outstretched Acrefair goalkeeper, who pulled off a world class save to divert the ball past the post. From the subsequent corner, the Acrefair defence failed to clear the ball away effectively resulting in the ball rebounding off the left-hand post.
After a number of chances previously, it was no surprise that on the 71st minute, Llangollen would score their seventh goal of the evening. Once again the tried and tested tactic of the long ball over the top of the Acrefair defence proved advantageous for the home side, as #11 picked up on a through ball on the flank. Crossing low into the penalty box, he found the onrushing #9 who skilfully flicked the ball up into the air in front of him, and then lift the ball over the goalie, who was diving towards his feet, and into the net to score his fifth goal of the evening.
Llangollen Town 7 – 0 Acrefair Youth
Three minutes after their seventh, and Llangollen would score their eighth goal of the game. A chipped ball from #7 from outside the penalty area reached #9 at the back post. The goal-scoring forward showed great vision to cross across the goal towards the captain #8, who had quickly surged into the box and was unmarked. The captain successfully connected with the cross just on the edge of the area and superbly volleyed the ball at pace past the helpless goalkeeper and into the net. A splendid piece of attacking play!
Llangollen Town 8 – 0 Acrefair Youth
In the last fifteen minutes of the match, Llangollen would continue to create some half chances although nothing that would really trouble the Acrefair goalkeeper. They managed a counter-attack on the 80th minute when their #9 curled a ball towards the central midfielder #8 who was rushing into the penalty area. This time however the captain could not get his effort on target as his half volley was lifted over the bar. Two minutes later and action would occur at the other end of the pitch, again coming from a counter-attack. The ball was passed forward to Acrefair substitute #12 who had broken clear of the Llangollen defence and was surging towards goal. The home goalkeeper quickly came off his line to counter the attacking threat which left the goal open. The visiting substitute squared the ball across to Acrefair’s #9 who in a central position, and under pressure from the recovering centre back, he managed to tap the ball into the empty net to ensure Acrefair would come away from the game with a consolation goal.
Llangollen Town 8 – 1 Acrefair Youth
The last few minutes of the game were particurly uneventful in comparison with the rest of the game as both teams created further chances, although nothing as clear cut as had been created earlier in the half. With the light fading, and the temperatures dropping, the referee finally ended the contest at Tower Fields ensuring the home side would achieve a comprehensive opening day victory.
FULL TIME: LLANGOLLEN TOWN 8 – 1 ACREFAIR YOUTH
POST MATCH & CONCLUSION
Although it was only the first game of the season, that result would send both teams to the opposite ends of the table with Llangollen taking the initial top spot due to having a +7 goal difference, with Acrefair at the opposite end with a -7 goal difference already. Llangollen will be hoping for more of these big results throughout the season if they are to return back to the Welsh National League Premier Division, or get nearer to the promotion places. As for Acrefair, it’s looking like it could be yet another difficult season for them, after finishing last season at the bottom of the table with just three points to their name, and with a goal difference of -140, whilst the 2015-16 season saw them obtain a goal difference of -130. From this game, it’s looking like their goal difference could be reaching the ‘negative century’ once again.
Overall I really enjoyed this groundhop to Tower Fields and relieved that I did as I love visiting the town of Llangollen, and returning back to Tower Fields is the perfect excuse to visit in the future. The views of the lusciously green Dee Valley beyond are incredible from the pitch, and worthy of the groundhop alone. Whilst the ground itself has a quaintness to it, with its small stand and elevated viewing points, which I really enjoyed – certainly a great place to watch some proper ‘grassroots’ football on a summer’s evening. Finally the club volunteers and staff were very friendly and welcoming to everyone, which is always good to see and experience.
So if you are in the Llangollen area on a lengthy camping/canal boat holiday, a day trip or even for the International Eisteddfod, pop along to Tower Fields and experience the football on offer at Llangollen Town. I promise you will receive a warm welcome from everyone there and you will enjoy the groundhop (and see a lot of goals, if you are lucky like I was)! The club is a certainly a worthy representation of a fantastic place.
May I wish both Llangollen Town and Acrefair Youth all the very best of luck for their respective league campaigns ahead, and hope both teams achieve great success throughout the entire season!