Date of Visit: 23rd September 2017
Competition: FAW Trophy Round Two
Ground Number: 100!!!
- Distance Travelled: 49,0 miles
- Travel Time: 1 hour
- Club Name: Llansantffraid Village Football Club
- Ground: The Recreation Ground, Treflan, Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, Montgomeryshire SY22 6AE
- Club Colours: Green shirts with white sleeves, green shorts and green socks with white tops
- League Position: 9th – Mid Wales League Division Two [22/09/2017]
DIRECTIONS & CAR PARKING
From Northwards via the A483:
At Llynclys, follow the signs pointing towards Llansantffraid / Machynlleth / Lake Vyrnwy by turning right at the White Lion pub and following the A495 road westwards. Continue to follow the signs, taking a left turn just after the village of Porth-y-Waen and staying on the A495 road. Eventually you will cross the country border and return back into Wales and Montgomeryshire with the village appearing a couple of minutes later. Continue along the road and you will pass a Spar on the left, and a stone cross on the right-hand side before approaching a pelican crossing. Just after the crossing, take a right turn and then another right turn onto a residential street and follow the road around the left bend. Eventually the junction to the community hall and ground will appear on the left side, with the car park situated right next to them.
From Southwards via the A483:
At the Four Crosses roundabout, take the first exit onto the B4393 road heading westward and continue along the road passing a number of caravan parks. Eventually you will cross the River Vyrnwy and approach a T-junction, where you take a left turn into Llansantffraid. Continue along the road and you will pass a Spar on the left, and a stone cross on the right-hand side before approaching a pelican crossing. Just after the crossing, take a right turn and then another right turn onto a residential street and follow the road around the left bend. Eventually the junction to the community hall and ground will appear on the left side, with the car park situated right next to them.
From Westwards via the A458 New Road:
Just about a mile before you arrive in Llanfair Caereinion, cross the River Banwy and take a left turn onto the A495 road, with signs pointing for Meifod. Continue along the A495 road, following the signs for Meifod before driving through the village and continuing along the same road. After six miles after Meifod, and crossing over the Afon Cain, Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain should appear. Continue to drive through the village before approaching a large factory on the right-hand side (Wynnstay Stores). There should be a sign saying “Medical Centre / Canolfan Iechyd” pointing left towards a junction – take that left turn before making an immediate right turn onto a residential street. Follow the road around the left bend. Eventually the junction to the community hall and ground will appear on the left side, with the car park situated right next to them.
Car Parking Information:
There is a large car park situated right next to the football ground where free car parking is available. Some car parking could be available inside the ground, and behind the large stand although parking in the community car park is advisable.
Club Established/Founded: 2007
- 1 x Montgomeryshire Football League Division One Winners
- 1 x Montgomeryshire Football League Division Two Winners
Highest League Finish: Mid Wales League Division One – 5th [2010-11]
- Mid Wales League Division Two – 10th
- Welsh Cup – First Qualifying Round
- FAW Trophy – Round 2
- Central Wales Challenge Cup – Round 4
- Montgomeryshire Challenge Cup – Round 2
The history of Llansantffraid Village is a fairly short one as the club was only created in 2007, however football has been played in Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain since the end of the nineteenth century. Most recently the Montgomeryshire village has been in the forefront of Welsh league football with it being the base for Llansantffraid Football Club. Llansantffraid famously became the smallest side (in terms of population, having just over 1400 inhabitants) to win the Welsh Cup, and becoming the first mid-Welsh side in ninety-six years to win the national cup competition, when the village club won the national trophy in 1996.
Llansantffraid Football Club would change its name to Total Network Solutions F.C. the following year and would win a further Welsh Cup in 2005 under that name, as well as winning four league championships between 2000 and 2007. However in 2003, the club had merged with nearby side Oswestry Town, and in 2007 The New Saints (the current name for the team) would move from their historic home of The Recreation Ground (also known as “Treflan”) and out of the village (and Wales for that matter) altogether to Oswestry Town’s former home of Park Hall. Situated 10,5 miles north-west of Treflan, the new ground had a 3G pitch and fulfilled the WPL and UEFA Standards, something which the council-owned Treflan was unfortunately not. For further information about The New Saints, see my groundhopping blog about them here.
As a result of TNS moving away from the village and over the border, the current club representing Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, ‘Llansantffraid Village Football Club’, was created in 2007 by some of the old committee members and volunteers of the previous club to ensure football would continue to be played in the village and that the newly vacated Treflan would not become redundant.
Llansantffraid Village would begin their history at the very bottom of the Welsh football pyramid and so started life competing in the second division of the local Montgomeryshire Football League. In their debut season, they would gain promotion to the first division of the Montgomeryshire League structure by winning the second division title, and would achieve back-to-back promotions the following season by winning the Montgomeryshire League Division One championship in an undefeated season.
Having spent just two seasons in the local league structure, Llansantffraid Village now ascended to the third tier of the Welsh football pyramid, and made their debut in the Mid Wales League (then just the single division structure). In their debut season at the third tier in 2009-10, they would achieve a very respectable eighth place finish, out of eighteen teams, scoring 94 goals and earning themselves 57 points. During that season, they would also make their first appearance in the proper rounds of the Welsh Cup, by reaching the second round proper of the competition. Currently, it is the furthest the club has ever progressed in the Welsh Cup.
Llansantffraid Village’s 2009-10 Welsh Cup campaign:
- R1: Llay Welfare (h) 3 – 1
- R2: Coedpoeth United (h) 1 – 2
The following season saw the Mid Wales League split into two leagues (in compliance with other leagues at the third and fourth tiers) and Llansantffraid were place in Division One. This season saw The Saints achieve their highest league placement so far when they achieved a fifth place finish, with 47 points, and winning fifteen of their twenty-eight game league campaign. They would also reach the Third Round of the FAW Trophy, the furthest they have reached in that competition. Things were looking positive for the newly created team!
The 2011-12 season would see Llansantffraid’s momentous climb up the leagues flounder as they finished in tenth position in the league and winning just a third of their games from their season. The following season would be no better for The Saints as they would achieve an eleventh place finish and conceding 71 goals from the entire league campaign. The 2013-14 season would see Llansantffraid make some improvements in the Mid Wales League Division One, as they would finish in seventh place from the fifteen teams competing that season, although scoring the same amount of goals as the previous season (66 goals) and conceding just two fewer.
Another season in Division One would see Llansantffraid achieve yet another eleventh place finish but unfortunately for the village club, it would be the final season they would spend in the third tier of Welsh football. With the club struggling to find replacements due to a mass exodus of players during the summer months, the club reluctantly had to withdraw from the Mid Wales League a week before the 2015-16 season started. Thankfully the club did not fold altogether and regrouped at the bottom of the pyramid, replacing their reserve side in the Second Division of the Montgomeryshire League structure. Llansantffraid would restart in the same position they were in eight years previously.
Their exile from the Mid Wales League structure would only last a single season, as their application to fill one of the vacated spaces within the Mid Wales League was accepted by the league committee. Therefore after a successful season in the Montgomeryshire League, Llansantffraid Village would rejoin the Mid Wales League for the 2016-17 season but would be starting in Division Two this time around. The Saints first season back in the MWL was one of consolidation as they would finish in tenth position from the thirteen team league. Llansantffraid would win nine of their twenty-four games played, scoring thirty-seven goals and earning themselves thirty points, whilst being just four points away from a very respectable sixth position.
Llansantffraid Village’s previous five competitive match results:
- Fri 11th August: Abermule (a) 4 – 4
- Sat 19th August: Montgomery Town (h) [Welsh Cup 1st QR] 6 – 0
- Sat 26th August: Hay St. Mary’s (a) 2 – 2
- Sat 9th September: Berriew (h) [Welsh Cup 2nd QR] 0 – 7
- Sat 16th September: Hay St. Mary’s (h) 3 – 0
Going into this upcoming FAW Trophy match, Llansantffraid Village would be ninth place in the Mid Wales League Division Two, having just played three league games in the 2017-18 season and with a couple of games in hand over clubs above them in the table.
The upcoming cup game would be The Saints’ third cup game of the season after playing two games in the qualifying rounds of the Welsh Cup. Their first Welsh Cup game saw them host Montgomery Town, which saw them easily defeat the troubled club with a comprehensive 6-0 thrashing of their opponents. This initial victory resulted in Llansantffraid taking on one of the MWL Division One’s strongest teams in Berriew at Treflan. Unfortunately for The Saints, their Welsh Cup dreams would be shattered in the second qualifying round of the national cup competition as they suffered a heavy 0-7 defeat to Berriew in early September.
Despite their current league position and early exit from the Welsh Cup, the club was currently undefeated in the league having drew their first two games and winning their third game in the league. Llansantffraid’s league campaign began with an away trip to Abermule where they would play out a high-scoring 4-4 draw at the Abermule Community Field. This opening day fixture would be followed up with two games against recently relegated Hay St. Mary’s, which saw Llansantffraid earn a 2-2 draw at Hay before achieving their first victory of the league season with a comfortable 3-0 victory in the reverse fixture in Treflan two weeks later. This victory over a tough side would ensure The Saints would approach the FAW Trophy game with great confidence and momentum against their fellow Mid Wales League Division Two opponents.
THE OPPOSITION – PRESTEIGNE ST. ANDREWS
Presteigne St. Andrews’ previous five competitive match results:
- Sat 26th August: Dolgellau Athletic (a) 0 – 4
- Fri 1st September: Penybont United (h) 3 – 1
- Sat 9th September: Builth Wells (a) 1 – 4
- Fri 15th September: Newbridge-on-Wye (h) 4 – 2
- Wed 20th September: Llandrindod Wells (a) [Radnorshire Cup R1] 3 – 2
Presteigne St. Andrew’s would be approaching this upcoming FAW Trophy in a better league position than their opponents. Prior to the game, they would be located in third position in the Mid Wales League Division Two table, having accumulated nine points, but having had played three more games than Llansantffraid.
Their league campaign had been consistently inconsistent having won three and lost three from their six league games. A heavy 0-4 defeat to Dolgellau Athletic in late August was followed by a solid 3-1 home victory over Penybont United the following weekend, before conceding another four goals the subsequent weekend, this time losing away at Builth Wells. Matt Strangwood scoring Presteigne’s consolation goal at Lant Field.
However they would be approaching this cup game on a two game winning streak, having initially beaten Newbridge-on-Wye in the league, in the middle of September. Presteigne would produce an impressive first half display against Newbridge with goals from Josh Gardner, Joel Layton and Matt Strangwood ensuring the home side would take a three goal lead into the half time break. However a spirited second half fightback from Newbridge brought the scoreline back to 3-2, before Gardner added his second of the afternoon to ensure the three points were confirmed for Presteigne.
The league victory was followed up mid-week by an impressive victory in the Radnorshire Cup competition. Presteigne would travel to MWL Division One side Llandrindod Wells’ ground and come away with an impressive 3-2 cup upset over the third tier side. Presteigne would take a 2-0 half time lead in the game courtesy of goals from the free-scoring Matt Strangwood and Liam Fletcher. The home side would fight back in the second half and would eventually level the scores up very late in the game to send the cup tie into extra time. It would seem the home side would prevail, but a goal from Jack Biggs in the first half of extra time proved to be the deciding factor in the thrilling encounter and ensured Presteigne would progress to the next round.
Alas having played 120 minutes mid-week against a tough opponents, questions would be asked into the condition of the Presteigne players coming into the FAW Trophy game. Would they show fatigue in the fixture, having had fewer days to recover than their opponents, who had had the whole week to prepare for the game.
Attendance: 40 approx.
Weather Conditions: Overcast but mild
- Entrance: FREE
- Programme: N/A
- Chocolate: £0.80
- Cup of Coffee: £1.60
Well the day I had been anticipating for a long, long time had finally arrived! As you may have read in my previous blogs, I have been getting nearer and nearer to my groundhopping goal of visiting one hundred grounds. In my previous blog at Penycae (blog can be found here), I had reached my ninety-ninth ground and was eagerly awaiting to visit the hundredth one. Regrettably since that visit to Penycae, I had been unable to visit any more grounds due to other commitments or events popping up in my busy schedule. However the fourth Saturday of September would be a free weekend for me, and it was the weekend I had earmarked for achieving “the century”.
Fortunately the weekend would also provide me with a vast amount of options for potential groundhops as it would be the weekend when the FAW Trophy (a competition I have much fondness for) would be playing its second round fixtures on. With such a choice of games being played on that weekend from all around North and Central Wales, it would provide me with a wealth of choices to pick from. Alas having too much choice can sometimes be a little unhelpful somewhat.
Perhaps putting a little too much grandeur into this groundhop but I wanted it to be a decent visit (and worthy of writing a blog about) and thus was completely unsure where I wanted to go. I had identified a number of FAW Trophy fixtures which had peaked my interest, but the choice was eventually boiled down to three games, one from each regional section of the cup draw: Llanberis versus Amlwch Town (something fitting about watching a match under the gaze of Snowdon), Llanuwchllyn versus Rhydymwyn (a great road journey down there and one of three WNL grounds still to visit), or Llansantffraid Village versus Presteigne St. Andrew’s (visiting an iconic former Welsh Premier League ground). Three potentially good matches, but where to go??
Being completely befuddled from the choices, I let the good people of Twitter decide for me during the week and asked their opinions through an opinion poll – the beauty of democracy! I listed the three locations, as well as a fourth “somewhere else” option which, in hindsight, I really shouldn’t have put on the list. Naturally a vote to help me make a decision did the complete opposite as the option of “somewhere else” won the poll by a good margin…bloody typical!! So thank you to everyone who voted that option, you left me more confused than before haha!!
With Twitter having being little help to alleviate my indecision, it wouldn’t be until that Saturday morning when I finally had to make a decision. Sadly Llanuwchllyn would be eliminated first from the choice because of the autumnal weather. I wanted to visit a ground with a covered stand due to the weather being distinctly horrible that morning and I simply wasn’t sure where they had them or not! I’ll be honest, I didn’t fancy standing in the rain for about two hours! However Llanuwchllyn is still VERY high up on the list of “must visit” grounds as it’s one of three grounds I still need to visit in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division (the others being Cefn Albion and Rhostyllen), and the furthest away from 94th Minute HQ. Therefore Llanuwchllyn will be specially planned for later on in the season as I can imagine that’ll be a decent ground and club to visit!
That would leave me with two options to pick from, either Llanberis or Llansantffraid Village. In end I was so indecisive that I was still unsure where I would be going when I got into the car and was ready to head off. Therefore I had to flip a coin to make the choice for me: heads for Llansantffraid, tails for Llanberis – I would late fate decide my journey for today’s groundhop. From the resulting coin toss, it would be heads that came out on top and so my journey had been decided for me…I would be heading south to the village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain for my century groundhop.
Resultantly the coin toss would be somewhat fortunate for me, as on that afternoon the A55 Expressway was encountering some predictably heavy traffic jams and holdups due to the large amount of visiting weekend traffic that was venturing westwards, and travelling in the same direction I would have done. Not to mention, a large chunk of people would have been heading to Llanberis to climb Snowdon (although in such miserable weather, why they would attempt such a thing is beyond me…). As a result, it could have meant I could have potentially missed a large chunk of the Llanberis match resulting from being stuck in such frustrating traffic jams! However Llanberis is still very high on the “must visit” list, and I will just make sure to venture down when traffic volume on the A55 is a little less hectic later on in the year!
The journey to Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain would take approximately an hour from 94th Minute HQ to Treflan, and thankfully the traffic on the notorious A55 and A483 was relatively clear and flowing normally on my sides of the road (the western route of the A55 is always busy on weekends around about now). For the southern drive, I would listen to a couple of the excellent Welsh Premier League Podcasts that I had yet listened to. The excellent podcasts are presented by Marc Webber and Mark “Jonah” Jones, and provide round ups of the week’s WPL action, as well as news from around the Welsh football world. I would heartedly recommend to download them if you enjoy Welsh league football! (I did chuckle at the paraphrasing of the chorus to The Shamen’s 90’s dance hit “Ebenezer Goode” as “’Ezer good! ‘Ezer good! ‘E’s Dylan Ebenezer good!”).
The weather travelling down the A483 was not good, with the sky overcome with dark grey clouds and inflicting the southward journey to a number of sporadic yet heavy showers. I was not overly confident that I would be encountering a rain-free groundhop at Treflan. However when I eventually reached Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, the colour of the clouds had lightened somewhat to a more reasonable shade of grey, ensuring that the game would indeed stay dry yet maintaining the overcast nature of the late September day. Despite the lack of sun, the temperature was still mild ensuring that winter had not arrived just yet!
Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain (also historically spelt as ‘Llansanffraid’) is a village of just over 1400 inhabitants situated in northern Powys, within the historical county of Montgomeryshire. Positioned close to the Wales-England border, it is about seven miles south-west of the Shropshire town of Oswestry and eight miles north of Welshpool. The A495 road passes through the town, and is the location of the confluence between the Severn tributary River Vyrnwy (Welsh: Afon Efyrnwy) and the smaller Afon Cain which occurs in the east of the village. Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain no longer has a railway station, but has good transport links to the nearest train station of Welshpool.
As with a number of locations within Wales, the village’s name originates from Saint Bride / Brigid with the translation of ‘Llansantffraid’ being ‘Church/Parish of Saint Brigid’. To differentiate it from other settlements with the same name, the ‘ym-Mechain’ part of the name is added to denote its location within the medieval Welsh cantref of Mechain. Despite its medieval origin name, people have been living in the area for thousands of years, with Neolithic Beaker pottery found in the area, as well as archaeological evidence of Roman settlement. There is also Iron Age hill forts located close to the village, as well as the scheduled ancient monument of Plas-Yn-Dinas, which was the supposed residence of the Lords of Mechain-Is-Coed. It is reputed that the foundations of Plas-Yn-Dinas are of the lost Roman station of Mediolanum.
‘The Recreation Ground’ or ‘Treflan’ is situated in the eastern half of the village, and to the north of the A495 road. The ground is part of a sporting and social complex for the village with the village’s community hall situated beside the ground, as well as the Llansantffraid social club and village bowling green connected to it also. Just between the community hall and bowling green is the large car park for the site, and it would be here where I would park by car when I arrived in the pleasant village at 2pm. There were a number of cars already parked up when I turned up although there were plenty of free spaces available to park the car which was appreciated.
Even though the ground is council-owned and used by a fourth tier team, it is still an impressive football venue. It has two stands at Treflan with a smaller stand complete with covered seats situated by the halfway line on the northern side of the pitch. However the most notable stand, and the legacy left by Total Network Solutions F.C., was the main large stand on the eastern end of the pitch. A huge cantilever stand with a vast amount of covered green seats available which provided fantastic views of the pitch. The ground also had permanent floodlights and a TV gantry (again more TNS additions) as well as a path around the perimeter of the pitch. A very impressive ground to watch football in!
I headed towards to the entrance of the ground from the car park and it seemed as if someone was supposed to collect an entrance fee for supporters. However when I arrived, there was no-one at the entrance and no-one asked for a fee when I hung around the entrance for a few minutes. In the end, I walked towards the social club and thought that someone would probably ask for some cash later on. Plus there didn’t seem to be any programmes available which was a little disappointing but expected at this level of football.
The social club is a very impressive and large building – something you would expect for the local community considering it is the hub for the sporting complex. On the walls were plenty of pictures and trophies of the accolades of the former Llansantffraid club before they moved to Oswestry to become the TNS side we know today. Inside the social club were a couple of gents watching both the live English Premier League midday match of West Ham United against Tottenham Hotspur and live horse racing on another screen. With time to kill before kick-off, I bought myself a black coffee for £1.60 and supped the warming drink down whilst watching the exciting conclusion to the Premier League game being broadcasted from the London Stadium.
Alas the other two people within the social club were not so interested in the football and were more concerned with the horse race being shown on the other screen. With the horses coming down the home straight, both of them were becoming increasingly animated and excited as the horses got nearer to the winning post. Clearly they had money on one of the horses! With the race nearly at a conclusion, the two gents were so close to the television screen that they could have practically jumped onto it, and were shouting excitedly as their chosen horses was getting very close to nicking the victory. Sadly for the lads, their horse was just pipped at the line by a head resulting in their horse finishing second. Apparently they had won some money on it but not as much as they had hoped – they were a little deflated and gutted about it all even though they had won some money back!
I asked the barman if they sold any Llansantffraid Village pin badges, hoping to add to the ever increasing collection. He said they didn’t have any and also said “we don’t really deal much with the club anymore”. I’m not sure whether he meant Llansantffraid Village or TNS but either way it was disappointing that they didn’t have any badges available. Having watched the conclusion of the West Ham versus Spurs match and finished my coffee, I headed out of the social club and walked up the slope towards the football ground.
With both teams now out on the pitch, I decided to venture over towards the smaller stand on the other side of the pitch as that was where the majority of supporters had congregated towards. There would be only one supporter who would take advantage of the larger main stand, and it looked silent and very empty throughout the first half. I found the image to be a little dejected in fairness with large crowds having once occupied this impressive modern stand, but it now lays dormant and almost abandoned. Hopefully the crowds will return to refill the stand when the club rises up the leagues once again!
For the first half I stood just next to the small stand, on the path besides it. The path here is elevated above the pitch providing a decent view of the entire pitch, as well as the visiting team’s dugout. A few other supporters were taking advantage of this by standing on the path alongside the side of the pitch, as well as actually sitting inside the small stand. The small stand looked an older structure to the more modern equivalent adjacent to it, with the stand a more traditional construction of wood and metal. Quite a few seats had a number of cobwebs attached to them, so arachnophobes might want to potentially avoid the stand or sit where there are no cobwebs ha!
With the half two kick-off time now approaching, and both teams having come out of the changing rooms located in the community hall and onto the pitch, the official was getting ready to start the FAW Trophy match. Llansantffraid would be playing the tie in their Hibernian-style home kit of green shirts with white sleeves, green shorts and green socks, whilst Presteigne would be playing in an AC Milan / OGC Nice style kit of black and red striped shirts, white shorts and black socks. This was all set to be an interesting cup tie and I was hoping the game would be an exciting affair which would be worthy for my century of groundhops! Please don’t let it be a boring, scoreless game!
MATCH DETAILS – FIRST HALF
The first good chance of the game fell to the visitors after just two minutes, when a long attempted cross from the left side was aimed towards the far post. The cross was aimed towards the Presteigne player waiting by the right-side post but it was looking as if it may just dip under the crossbar and into the goal. As a result of this danger, the Llansantffraid goalkeeper produced a superb save whilst backpedalling to just about palm the cross-come-shot over the bar. Unfortunately this would one of a few highlights for the visitors in what would prove to be a pretty horrendous first half for Presteigne.
After just ten minutes had been played in the match, the brief deadlock in the match was broken and it would be the home side who would take the lead. Llansantffraid’s #11 received the ball on the left flank of the pitch and whipped a dangerous curling ball towards the back post. It would be Llansantffraid’s #10 who rose above the cluster of players who had gathered in the six yard box, to successfully nod the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net from five yards out.
Llansantffraid Village 1 – 0 Presteigne St. Andrew’s
Three minutes after taking the lead and the home side nearly saw their advantage doubled as they were aided by a defensive mishap. A glorious through ball from midfield was directed towards Llansantffraid’s #9 who was advancing through the centre. The Presteigne defender tried to stop the forward from surging forward but completely missed his sliding tackle and allowed the attacker to move into the penalty box unhindered. With the goalkeeper quickly advancing to stamp out the threat, the forward attempted a low squared pass towards #11 who had positioned himself to the left of the box. Under pressure from the covering defender, and at a tight angle to the goal, the winger attempted a shot towards the gaping goal but he could only direct the ball off the left post.
Directly from the hosts’ attempt, Presteigne gained possession and attempted a quick counter-attack by surging down their left flank. The winger attempted a shot on the edge of the penalty box after coming under pressure from the retreating Llansantffraid defender, and saw his effort just go wide of the right-hand post.
On the seventeenth minute of the game, and seven minutes after taking the lead, The Saints would double their advantage in the game when they scored their second goal. It resulted from a quick throw-on on the left hand side of the pitch, which exploited a brief lapse in the concentration and organisation of Presteigne’s defence. #11 threw the ball towards #9, who advanced towards goal by dribbling past a couple of players and riding past a few challengers to get enough space in the penalty box to take a shot. His first effort was at a comfortable height to be blocked by the covering defender who dived in front of the shot, however the ball rebounded back to the striker who attempted another effort on goal. The second shot hit the defender once again but the striker would receive another rebound and this time he made no mistake with his third chance. It would be ‘third time lucky’ for #9 as his powerful shot deflected past both the covering defender and goalkeeper to trickle beyond them and into the goal.
Llansantffraid Village 2 – 0 Presteigne St. Andrew’s
Both sides have chances on their respective goal throughout the middle of the first half. Firstly Llansantffraid saw an effort fizz past the left post, before Presteigne had an attack down the left flank which saw the ball squared across to their #8 who had positioned himself with plenty of time and space in a central position. Unfortunately for the midfielder, he snatched at the cross and put too much power in his attempt resulting in him blazing his effort high over the crossbar. A golden chance spurned for the visitors, which would be punished by their opponents!
Around the half an hour mark in the game and Llansantffraid extended their lead further by scoring their third goal of the afternoon. A long ball from right midfield was launched towards #9 who was running towards goal. The forward headed the ball down towards #11 who had cut inside from the left flank and found space in front of the Presteigne goal. He hit a low hopeful shot towards the goalkeeper, who was completely wrong footed and was partially attempting a diving save. Realising the ball was going the other side of him, the goalkeeper attempted to save the shot with his feet, but the ball had too much power behind it and it simply rolled over his outstretched legs and into the net. A disappointing goal to concede for the visitors!
Llansantffraid Village 3 – 0 Presteigne St. Andrew’s
Presteigne were consistently squandering ball possession in midfield through sloppy passing and poor decisions, and certainly looked second best for the majority of the first half. You could tell frustrations were rising amongst the visiting team as voices were becoming louder and more aggressive towards each other when mistakes were made. It was becoming a tough fourty-five minutes for Presteigne in this cup tie! Perhaps their midweek efforts were indeed having a negative effect for this afternoon as they looked fatigued!
As a result, the home side continued to threaten their goal line, much to the annoyance of their management and many of their players. Firstly a cross from Llansantffraid’s #7 found the advancing #9 in the box, but the forward could only flick the ball over the crossbar. Then another long ball gave the Presteigne defence trouble when the marauding #9 managed to flick the pass onto #10. The forward managed to get past the defender with his first touch and quickly run towards goal but his goalward effort could only go wide of the post. Finally a corner was not dealt with by the visiting defence allowing #9 to get a free header from only a few yards out. Once again the home side spurned their chance as #9 could only nod the ball past the post.
Under such relentless pressure from Llansantffraid, it was only a matter of time before they would extend their lead further, and their fourth goal finally appeared right on the stroke of half time. A low cross from the right-hand side was directed towards #9 who was lurking dangerously in the box. The forward was unable to connect with the pass as it was just beyond his reach but the ball found the onrushing #11 who had cut inside from his flank. He hit a low shot which deflected off the diving goalkeeper and into the net. Another bad goal to concede for the visitor’s number one, especially as he had been beaten on his inside post. However his defenders were giving him no favours in this half!
Llansantffraid Village 4 – 0 Presteigne St. Andrew’s
That would be the final action of the first half as the official ended Presteigne’s misery by calling a halt to proceedings and blowing his whistle for half time. It was looking as if Llansantffraid had one foot in the next round already!
HALF TIME: LLANSANTFFRAID VILLAGE 4 – 0 PRESTEIGNE ST. ANDREW’S
At half-time I decided to head back to the social club to see if I could get something to eat as there didn’t seem to be any snack bars open at the ground, and I was feeling a touch peckish. Naturally they had the usual assortments of snacks but in the end I chose a packet of peanut M&M’s – mainly because it was the only chocolate that was available for purchase! With some food acquired, and a quick check of the scores happening around the English leagues, via Soccer Saturday which was now being shown on the main television screen, I headed back to the ground and decided to sit in the big stand for the second half.
I would one of about three people who would sit in the main stand, and I decided to sit right at the top of it to get a good view of the pitch. Disappointingly Llansantffraid’s ground has been the subject of vandalism over the past year (something which seems to be happening on an alarmingly increasing rate around the country), and many of the plastic seats had been damaged. Either the seats themselves had been damaged or the backs of the seats had been snapped off the seat frame itself – such a shame for a community ground and club that represents to village that mindless yobos would do this to their local club!
Having found a good spot for the second half amidst the massive amount of seats, I finished off the packet of M&M’s and was quite enjoying my groundhop so far. It was only when I had finished the last sweet when I spotted that they contained lactose in them! A bloody nightmare for lactose intolerance sufferers like myself! Since when the hell has peanut M&M’s contained lactose??? Cursing my choice of chocolate by not checking the ingredients before opening the packet, and fearing the inevitable stomach cramps later on, I was eager for the second half to start as soon as possible. Thankfully both sides soon reappeared from the changing rooms and back onto the pitch. I was just hoping the painful cramps would not kick in during the second half, else I would have to make an earlier dash home! Certainly not the conclusion I had envisaged to my 100th groundhop!!
MATCH DETAILS – SECOND HALF
With Llansantffraid four goals to the good, it would have been prudent to imagine that they would repeat their first half performance and continue it in the second half to see out a good victory. However for the second half, the roles would be reversed as Presteigne looked to possess the more urgency with free-flowing passing and the lion’s share of ball possession, whilst Llansantffraid could barely string a couple of passes together or get the ball out of their own half. It was looking like the proverbial ‘game of two halves’.
This was quickly emphasised on the fifty-fourth minute when Presteigne had the first good goalscoring opportunity of the half. A glorious curling, outside of the boot pass from the Presteigne midfield found their #10 in a dangerous position. He had enough time to pass the ball towards the scuttling #9 who was surging into the penalty area. Alas for the forward, his low shot would be blocked by a diving Llansantffraid defender and the danger was quenched. It would be the first of many chances for the visiting #9 in the second half of the match!
A few minutes later and Presteigne were on the attack again and causing the increasingly cautious Llansantffraid defence some worries. An attack down the right flank was not stopped by the home defence allowing the ball to reach #9 near the goal line. The forward had enough time and space to square the ball to their #8, who had moved into a central position inside of the Llansantffraid penalty box. The home defence were not alert enough to the danger allowing the midfielder enough time to take a shot on goal. Fortunately for the home supporters, the midfielder could only direct his low effort in the direction of the goalkeeper, and it was a comfortable save for the number one.
However on the sixty-second minute, Presteigne’s efforts were finally rewarded were they managed to reduce their arrears in the match. A corner from their #7 from the left side was easily cleared away from the danger area, however the ball managed to return back to #7 on the left side of the box. Showing great vision, he crossed the ball to #9 who had found an unmarked position in a central position at the edge of the penalty box. The striker unleashed a vicious half volley strike which flew past the onrushing challenging defender and the goalkeeper, and hit the back of the net. A deserved goal for the visitors, who were playing a hundred times better than they had in the first half!
Llansantffraid Village 4 – 1 Presteigne St. Andrew’s
Two minutes after getting their first goal of the afternoon and Presteigne were celebrating their second. A low cutting through cross from the left-hand side of the pitch was successfully latched onto by #9, who had managed to break through the Llansantffraid offside trap. Showing great composure, he managed to cheekily lob the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper to complete his quick-fire brace. The cup fixture was now starting to look like an interesting game with an improbable comeback looking potentially possible now. The home side were starting to get agitated with the Saints’ goalkeeper becoming louder and frustrated with his defence, as they struggled to get into the game.
Llansantffraid Village 4 – 2 Presteigne St. Andrew’s
Llansantffraid were sitting too deep throughout the second half trying to defend their lead they had accumulated in the first half. However it meant they had lost all the match momentum to their opponents, who continually harassing their goal with a number of half chances and causing major problems for their defence. It was looking as if it was only a matter of time before the visitors would score their third and potentially make the final quarter of the game a very interesting affair. Certainly the home goalkeeper could see the momentum swing against them and was continually geeing up his teammates to find a way back into the game!
It would be the eighty-second minute when the home side finally had their first clear goalscoring opportunity of the second half. A dazzling run through the centre from their #10 drifted past a number of challenges before finding his way into the box. However after such a mazy run, his effort did not equal the build-up as he could only blaze his shot well over the crossbar. From the goal kick, Presteigne would catch Llansantffraid on the counter-attack, again exploiting The Saints’ right back by continually attacking down the left flank. The substitute #14 had created enough space for himself just outside of the penalty to take a shot on goal. He attempted to curl the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal, but put a little too much power into his shot and it just fizzed past the right-hand post.
With very little time left remaining in the game, Presteigne were committing more players to their attacks hoping to find a crucial third goal. This resulted in large spaces appearing in their defence from which the home side almost benefitted from. An attacking throw-in by Llansantffraid found their #6 on the edge of the penalty area, from where he lashed a thunderous volley towards the Presteigne goal. It would have certainly ended the contest had the impressive attempt flew into the net, however the visiting goalkeeper was equal to the challenge and pulled off an absolutely wonderful diving save to try and keep the game alive.
Unfortunately for Presteigne they were simply unable to find that third goal and take the cup tie into a thrilling finale. The disadvantage at half-time was a too large of a gap to overcome, however they gave it one hell of an effort and were the superior team for the vast majority of the second half. Alas for the visitors, Llansantffraid’s devastating performance in the first half was indeed enough to see them progress to the next round of the FAW Trophy, even if they made it difficult for themselves at times. Regardless, the home side would claim the desired victory and progress to the next round!
FULL TIME: LLANSANTFFRAID VILLAGE 4 – 2 PRESTEIGNE ST. ANDREW’S
POST MATCH & CONCLUSION
It may have been a nervy second half for Llansantffraid but their first half performance was good enough to see them book their place in the third round of the FAW Trophy. For their efforts, they would be given an away tie at Mid Wales League Division One side Llanidloes Town in the next round – a tough fixture for the Village considering Llanidloes had knocked them out of the tournament last season also. Their cup fixture is being played on the 21st October and I wish them the best of luck for that game, and for the rest of the season!
As for Presteigne, their first half performance was their undoing in that match and left them in a too worse of a position to recover from in the second half. No doubt the team were still feeling the effects from their gruelling mid-week cup fixture, which saw them play 120 minutes. However they can take pride in their second half performance and can exit the FAW Trophy with their heads held high, and are now able to fully concentrate on the league and the Radnorshire Cup. I wish them all the very best in those respective competitions!
I really enjoyed the groundhop to the Recreation Ground / Treflan and was glad I was finally able to tick the former Welsh Premier League ground off the list. It is still an impressive ground and a fine venue for watching football although a part of me was a little bit sad that the massive games were no longer played here. The ground has that strange atmosphere of a faded past glory which it naturally struggles to recapture, and although I absolutely loved the visit, part of me was a little sad that the big game no longer occur there anymore. Hopefully Llansantffraid Village will recapture those past glories and bring the good times back to Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain. Considering the modern footballing history of the place, I think they probably deserve it!
The journey back to 94th Minute HQ was a generally standard one (even though my stomach was cramping a tad from the accidental lactose intake from earlier), with hardly any traffic delays on either the A483 or the A55 Expressway, and I would return back to HQ with a content smile on my face. The century of grounds had been finally…finally completed and I was feeling a wave of achievement and satisfaction as I saw down and drank a well-earned cup of tea. It would be that moment where I could bask at completing a personal achievement and taking stock of the journeys so far taken, all of which I have thoroughly enjoyed so far.
At this point I would like to thank all the people who have inspired me to go forth and visit such places, as well as all the people who I have met and helped me during each groundhop and blog entry. It’s been one heck of ride so far and I couldn’t have completed it without you all, so DIOLCH YN FAWR IAWN I BAWB!
With an upcoming trip to Carlisle planned later in the week, it would only be a brief period of reflection before the next set groundhopping goal is initiated. With 100 grounds now completed, it was now onto the double century and potentially completing a number of leagues on the way also…let’s hope the future journeys are as good as or better than the previous ones!! 🙂