Gap Connah's Quay 3 Porthmadog 1

Monday 13th April 2009
Gap Connah's Quay 3 Porthmadog 1
Principality Building Society Welsh Premier League
At: Deeside Stadium
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Attendance: 115
Weather: sunny, windy
Duration: first half: 46:17; second half 49:17

I’d been aware for a few weeks that Gap Connah’s Quay were likely to leave the Deeside Stadium and of the proposed merger between the club and near neighbours Flint Town. So with just two home league games left to play, today against Porthmadog and on Friday 17th April against Caernarfon Town, I decided to make a Bank Holiday trip to the Deeside Stadium.

An article in the programme explained the workings of the proposed merger. A new club named Gap Flint Nomads would play home games at Flint’s Cae-y-Castell ground, which will be improved with new lights and new stand. Gap Connah’s Quay Reserves, currently members of the Clwyd League Division 2, would be launched as a fully independent club playing home games elsewhere in the town at Dock Road.

With the aid of a borrowed SatNav, the Deeside Stadium was easy to find. I approached from the M56, continued on the dual carriageway and took the A548 exit, signed Flint. After crossing the River Dee via the impressive bridge (seen in the background of some of the photos), I took the next exit (B5126) signed Connah’s Quay into Kelsterton Road. The ground was 400 yards on the right in the Deeside College campus.

The ground was an athletic stadium with the pitch inside an eight-lane running track. On halfway, on the near side, was a large elevated seated stand with changing rooms and offices below. On the far side was a television gantry building. Dugouts were positioned on the near side.

Programmes (£1-50) were available at the entrance to the left of the stand and badges (£3, two designs) were sold from a club shop table inside. Team line-ups were announced twice over the tannoy. Before kick-off, the raffle ticket seller came round – no surprise I was out of luck yet again when the winning ticket was revealed at half-time. Around 15 minutes before kick-off, ‘Bar-Y-Celstryn’ next to the players tunnel opened for business.

This game should have been played on New Year’s Day but bad weather forced a postponement. The programme mentioned that the reverse fixture at Portmadog played just after Christmas was ‘amazing’. Connah's Quay led 5-1 with just 19 minutes to play, only to lose 6-5 after Phil Doran was sent off.

Since I saw them lost 6-0 at Newi Cefn Druids at the end of last month, Connah’s Quay won their next two league games to make absolutely certain they wouldn’t finish in the bottom two. They went into this Bank Holiday clash in 11th position with 37 points from 31 games.

Third-from-bottom visitors Porthmadog, in contrast, were in need of points to make sure they stayed out of the dreaded bottom-two. They had 29 points from 32 games (two left – this one and at home to Aberystwyth on the final day), just five points clear of Caersws who faced Newtown this afternoon. The maths was simple: a win of Porthmadog today and anything less than a win for Caersws would guarantee another season in the Welsh Premier League.

The teams turned round after the toss so that Porthmadog were defending the Kelsterton Road end looking into the sun during the first half. The visitors got the game underway attacking from left to right from my vantage point on the fourth row of the stand.

Connah’s Quay (white shirts, black shorts and black socks), nicknamed the ‘Nomads’, had the first chance in the 4th minute. Phil Doran propelled a long throw into the area from the left which was cleared to Danny Forde on the edge of the area who fired wide of the left-hand post.

Prolific goalscorer Marc Lloyd-Williams, who netted his 300th Welsh Premier League goal in Porthmadog’s 2-1 home win two days ago, got the sniff of a chance. He latched onto a pass from John Rowley, only to see his shot from the left side of the area cut out by a defender for a corner.

A poor headed back pass almost let in Ronnie Morgan but Porthmadog keeper Richard Harvey raced off his line to claim.

The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute when the home side took the lead. Michael Cronshaw, out on the right, delivered a perfect cross for Forde to head home from just inside the area.

Porthmadog (yellow shirts, red shorts, yellow socks) could have equalised eight minutes later. Chris Parry’s free-kick forward into the area fell to unmarked defender Ryan Davies who shot wide of the near right post. The visitors went close again when Parry’s rising shot his the top of the bar and over for a goal kick.

Chances were scarce during the final 20 minutes of the first half, during which time the Nomads were forced to make a change when Morgan limped off.

Back to the same seat for the second half. Before the action resumed the announcer gave the attendance of 115 and thanked “everyone for coming out on Easter Monday”.

Six minutes after the restart Cronshaw turned from provider of the first into goalscorer of the second. Fed by Craig Jones, he sent a low shot across the face of goal into the far right corner via the fingertips of the diving Harvey who couldn’t keep the shout out.

Ben Alston sent a free-kick forward into the area where skipper Liam Loughlin turned on the edge of the area and fired over the Porthmadog bar. The visitors responded with a double substitution in the 56th minute.

Lloyd-Williams was frustrated not to make inroads into the deficit when he latched on to a throughball. However, with the close attention of defender Ben Alston, the prolific striker fired a left-foot shot over from 15 yards out.

Instead, it was the Nomads who were next to find the net in the 68th minute. Rowley, in acres of space, got down the left all the way to the bye-line before pulling the ball back for Conshaw to sidefoot his second goal of the game from 12 yards into the bottom left corner.

During the final 10 minutes, perhaps recalled what happened at Christmas, Porthmadog kept plugging forward for a way back. Rhys Roberts headed across the face of goal from Cai Jones’ free-kick and Kehoe’s 35-yard free-kick was held by the diving Terry McCormick.

A moment of magic from Lloyd-Williams eventually reduced the deficit in the 87th minute. Harvey’s long clearance from inside his own area was flicked on and fell to Lloyd-Williams 35-yards out. He got past the challenges of two defenders before turning a third one before sending an unstoppable 25-yard left footer into the top-right corner, out of reach of the leaping McCormick.

Porthmadog finished with ten men when Kehoe was given a straight red card for retaliation after being initially fouled by Paul Addo in the first minute of stoppage time.

Relegation rivals Caersws gained a vital point with a 1-1 draw at home to Newtown, so it will be tense final fixture for Portmadog as long as Caersws don’t lose their game in hand.

Highlights were shown on S4C and available on the S4C website.

1-0 Danny Forde (12)
2-0 Michael Cronshaw (51)
3-0 Michael Cronshaw (68)
3-1 Marc Lloyd-Williams (87)