Llanfairpwll 3 Gwalchmai 3

Saturday 11th February 2012
Llanfairpwll 3 Gwalchmai 3
Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Division 1
At: Maes Eilian
Kick-off: 2-30 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 60 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:24; second-half: 49:51

Today was one of firsts for me – watching a first-ever game on Anglesey as well as a first-ever Welsh Alliance game. In the company of driver Laurence Reade and fellow passenger Peter Grant, an Aussie from Melbourne via Osaka, I saw an entertaining six-goal game in which home side Llanfairpwll twice came from behind to earn a point after taking an early lead.

Last night, updates on Facebook and freezing temperatures around dhome persuaded me to join Laurence and Peter on their trip to North Wales and we ended up in the famous Anglesey village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. A quick phone call on the way confirmed the game was on and we arrived in plenty of time to climb the Marquess of Anglesey's Column and, of course, visit the tourist magnet that is the railway station with its incredibly long sign.

Llanfairpwll moved to the current ground at Maes Eilian in 2008, a few hundred yards from their old home at Y Gors which is still used by the reserves and juniors. Maes Eilian is a decent ground with a stand containing 60 individual seats and cover in an elevated position behind the left-hand goal. As present there are no floodlights.

Programmes were available at the entrance and the teams were announced on the tannoy, first in Welsh and then in English.

The Welsh Alliance, sponsored by Lock Stock, is part of the third tier of Welsh football and promotes teams into the second-tier Cymru Alliance like the Welsh League (Wrexham Area) and Mid-Wales League. With two divisions (1 and 2 – no ‘Premier’ in this part of the UK), both Llanfairpwll (15 points from 21 games) Gwalchmai (17 points from 15 games) went into this Anglesey derby occupying 14th and 11th position, respectively, in the 16-team Division 1.

Gwalchmai (in sky blue shirts, black shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking from right to left in relation to the seated stand. Surprisingly kick-off was not preceded by fair-play handshakes.

It didn’t take long for the first goal which came after just under 90 seconds. Kelvin Frazer delivered a free-kick into the area from the right which wasn’t cleared and Aled Thomas fired home at close range via the underside of the bar. It was Thomas’ first goal for the club and a perfect start for Llanfair.

Gwalchmai quickly responded with a 6th minute equaliser. Corey Sinnott burst through the middle into the Llanfair area where goalkeeper Liam Dewing blocked the resulting shot. The rebound fell to Craig Evans who accurately fired into an empty net from 20 yards out.

The early goals continued and the visitors took the lead in the 10th minute. A free-kick played into the home area fell to Gerallt Jones who hit a low shot which thumped the right-hand post. James Burgess quickly followed-up to drive home the rebound.

Gwalchmai thought they’d scored a third goal six minutes later. A right-wing cross found Burgess, who looped a shot over Ewing and into the net from eight yards out. However, a raised offside flag dampened the celebrations.

However, the next goal (fourth of the afternoon) was not long in coming and what a spectacular strike it was. Aled Thomas beat a couple of defenders before unleashing a spectacular 25-yard shot which flew past Kenny Hughes into the back of the net. So 2-2 in the 19th minute!

Llanfair continued to create chances. Hughes produced a good save just after the half-hour mark to push over a 30-yard free-kick from Kelvin Frazer at the expense of a corner. Frazer fed Richard Evans who saw his shot bounce down from the underside of the bar without crossing the line. At the other end, Ewing needed to remain alert and produced a smart save to keep out Sinnott’s left-foot shot after the striker had cut in from the right.

A couple of minutes before the break, Richard Evans endured one of those moments which every striker dreads. Arwyn Owen did all the hard work on the left to tempt Hughes off his line. Owen pulled the ball back to Evans who hit the bar from barely eight yards out.

Like many in the crowd, I headed to the portacabin behind the stand to find a tea bar within a hospitality room.

Ewing produced another excellent save six minutes after the restart to keep out a Burgess’s header from Gerallt Jones’s left-wing cross.

In what was an even second-half of few clear-cut chances, Gwalchmai regained the lead in the 76th minute. Gerallt Jones found Gareth Allman, a midfielder wearing the ‘2’ shirt, hit a rising left-foot 25-yard shot past the outstretched hand of Ewing.

However, Llanfair got back on level terms with a classic centre-forward’s goal. Arwyn Owen delivered a deep cross from the right towards the far post where unmarked Richard Evans sent a free header past Hughes.

Both sides almost won the game in stoppage time. First, Llanfair had a goal disallowed. Arwyn Owen stayed onside as his latched onto a ball down the right and crossed low into the area. Unmarked substitute Sion Hogan got forward to slot home, from an offside position with just Hughes to beat.

Then, even deeper into stoppage time, Ewing produced a ‘top-class’ save to deny Gwalchami a winner by tipping over a header from Sinnott that seemed destined for the net.

Llanfairpwll (blue and black stripes / black / black): 1. Liam Ewing, 2. Stephen Smith, 3. Jack Williams, 4. Aron Owen, 5. Gavin Jones (capt), 6. Brendan Hogan, 7. Kelvin Frazer, 8. Rhys Evans, 9. Richard Evans, 10. Arwyn Owen, 11. Aled Thomas. Subs: 12. Hefin Danial (not used), 14. Ben Verburg (not used), 15. Sion Hogan (for Thomas, 65), 16. Dion Hughes (not used), 17. Andy Will (not used).

Gwalchmai (sky blue / black / black): 1. Kenny Hughes, 2. Gareth Allman, 3. Jason Thomas, 4. Stephen Sinclair (capt), 5. Jon Williams, 6. Paul Tilbury, 7. Matthew Jones, 8. Craig Evans, 9. Corey Sinnott, 10. James Burgess, 11. Gerallt Jones. Subs: 12. Mark Giffiths (for Sinnott, 82), 13. Kenny Jones (not used), 14. Paul Bryant (for Matthew Jones, 61), 16. Andrew Sinclair (for Stephen Sinclair, ht).

Referee: M. Petch (Deganwy).
Assistants: Miss C. Pritchard (Menai Bridge) and S. Parkinson (Bangor).

1-0 Aled Thomas (2)
1-1 Craig Evans (6)
1-2 James Burgess (10)
2-2 Aled Thomas (19)
2-3 Gareth Allman (76)
3-3 Richard Owen (79)

Llanfairpwll: Rhys Evans (YC, 58)
Gwalchmai: Paul Tilbury (YC, 21)