NEWI Cefn Druids 6 GAP Connah's Quay 0

Friday 27th March 2009
NEWI Cefn Druids 6 GAP Connah's Quay 0
Principality Building Society Welsh Premier League
At: Plaskynaston, Cefn Mawr
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Attendance: 150
Weather: mild, rain during the second half
Duration: first half: 47:12; second-half 47:32

Just like last Saturday’s trip to Penrith, tonight’s journey to NEWI Cefn Druid’s Plaskynaston ground was another case of ‘now or never’.

An article in this week’s Football Traveller mentioned that the club had obtained planning permission for a new ground, as had a supermarket to redevelop Plaskynaston – though both had been referred for final confirmation (as an article in the programme stated).

Home side NEWI Cefn Druids (NEWI comes from North East Wales Institute of Higher Education) can rightly claim to be the oldest football club in Wales; well the Druids part can. Founded well over 100 years ago in 1872, Druids FC once reached the FA Cup quarter finals in 1882/83 and a couple of years later beat my old club Stafford Rangers in the same competition. Druids FC merged with Cefn Albion in 1992 to form present-day CFN Druids. The club are nicknamed ‘The Ancients’.

While I was pleased to set off on a pleasantly-sunny Friday afternoon, the aforementioned sun became a real nuisance, of the low on the horizon variety, particularly between Stone and Whitchurch. Via a quick detour through Bangor-on-Dee and past the racecourse then onto the A539, I arrived at the A483 near Ruabon with a dilemma. Which way? Turn left to head down the A483 towards Oswestry or go under the bypass and keep on the A539 (signed Llangollen)? Just like my orienteering, but in the car and without my map to hand! I chose wrong by heading down the bypass before making a hasty U-turn at the next roundabout.

Once I’d sorted out which way to go, finding the ground wasn’t difficult and the directions I’d copied from the club website took me straight there. Leave the A483 at Ruabon, following signs for Llangollen A539. At next roundabout turn left onto B5605 signed Cefn Mawr. After 1 mile turn right at the Plough Inn (Rhosymedre) into Cefn Mawr. Cross railway bridge and after passing the Somerfield supermarket (previously a Kwik Save) on left-hand side, fork left down narrow lane for the ground and car-park.

There appeared to be one entrance, to the right of the brick building sporting the welcome sign, and I picked up a copy of the excellent programme (£1-50p, 48 pages, plenty of read).

Through the entrance, which was at the top of the bank, the pitch (orientated just about north-south) ran widthways to the left. In front was an area of open terracing near the corner flag with yellow crush barriers. Down below to the right was the first of two stands. This one named the ‘Brian Mackie Stand’ contained blue seats and housed the ‘Food Bar’ as well. Behind was the clubhouse and to the left, almost directly behind the goal was the club shop. There was another stand, positioned on halfway along the near touchline, from where I chose to watch the game from the back of six rows of blue individual tip-up seats. On the opposite touchline were the dugouts, spaced apart either side of the halfway line, along with a television gantry. Behind the far goal and down the touchline either side of the stand were grass banks.

Teams were announced over the tannoy but I’d already had a look at the teamsheet for those all-important line-ups.

The need to pick up three points was important to both sides but the requirement for third-from-bottom home side was more pressing than 12th-placed Connah’s Quay. Even though the Ancients were unbeaten in the last four games they were a mere four points clear of second-bottom Caersws.

Druids got the game underway attacking the Brian Mackie Stand end, in the first half, or left to right from my seat.

Early in the game, I decided to have a punt at the raffle – surely my turn for success this time? Soon after Gerard McGuigan, the Druids keeper’ produced a near-post save to prevent Nomads (wearing all yellow) the lead.

The home side (black and white striped shirts with black sleeves, black shorts and white socks) almost took the lead in the 14th minute. Lee T. Jones’ free-kick, hit forward into a crowded area, was missed by Nomads’ keeper Terry McCormick attempting a punch and the ball was hooked clear from in front of goal.

Despite plenty of attacking endeavour, both defences were on top with chances limited and I feared a first 0-0 draw of 2009.

I quickly joined the queue at the Food Bar during the interval and it was a pleasure to enjoy a cuppa from a proper mug. I do know why most clubs use plastic or polystyrene cups but this was a nice treat. Sipping my drink, I had no idea what was to follow.

The deadlock was broken three minutes after the interval. A free-kick delivered deep from the left by Lee T Jones appeared to hit a defender and Jon Rush (son of the Liverpool legend) slotted home from a few yards out.

Nomads had a great chance to quickly get back on level terms. The defence failed to deal with a left-wing cross and defender Andy Alston, up for a corner, fired over at close range.

The lead was doubled in the 56th minute when Kevin Holsgrove buried a low shot from the right into the opposite bottom left corner of the net.

The visitors made the first change on the hour and, like he did for every goal and substitution, the tannoyman kept the crowd informed by announcing that Paul Addo replaced Craig Jones.

However, a spectacular strike in the 66th minute put Druids three up. Ricky Evans took a long run up and hammered a 25-yard free-kick low past the wall into the bottom-left corner.

Another set piece put Druids well and truly in command with a fourth goal scored in the 78th minute. From out of the left, Lee T. Jones curled a right-foot free-kick towards the far post which eluded everyone and ended up going straight in. The goal was almost identical to one I’d seen recently – Chester-le-Street’s second goal at Penrith last Saturday.

I was almost five, a couple of minutes later, but McCormick produced a fine save to tip over Andrew Edgar’s header from Joe Price’s corner.

However, the fifth one did go in for Druids in the 86th minute. Rush set up Holsgrove who fired home his second of the game from eight yards out.

Someone near me wanted a sixth goal and that came in the first minute of stoppage time. Price’s left wing cross was too high for Rush and substitute Michael Taylor volleyed home across the face of goal at the far post.

At the end, the Druids fans couldn’t believe the result which was their side’s biggest win of the season. More importantly, the three points took them up two places in the table and seven points clear of Caersws who visit Airbus UK on Sunday.

Alas, my strip wasn’t the winning strip when the lucky raffle numbers were read out early in the second half. Better luck, may be, at Wellington Amateurs tomorrow?

Spookily there were 6 goals, 6 substitutions and 6 bookings. Even the Devil would have enjoyed this one.