Llay Welfare 2 Chirk AAA 4

Friday 20th April 2012
Llay Welfare 2 Chirk AAA 4
Guy Walmsley & Co Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division
At: Llay Welfare, The Ring
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (16 pages)
Weather: cold, heavy prolonged showers
Attendance: 60 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:56; second-half: 43:50

Title-chasing Chirk AAA recovered from a first-half deficit to record a 4-2 victory at relegation-threatened Llay Welfare who finished this feisty contest with nine men. The home side took the lead through Luke Cahill before being reduced to ten men around the half-hour with Nathan Humphries’ second booking. Chirk scored twice in 138 seconds at the start of the second half and Joe Roberts further increased their lead. Llay pulled a goal back through Eddie Maurice Jones before Dave Browning received a straight red card in the 84th minute. Dan Currie added a late fourth goal for the visitors to clinch the points.

Like the Leicestershire Senior League, I’ve seen precious few previous games in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) – I must admit this fixture was only my second after the trip to Pen-y-fford back in October. This is something that must be rectified next season as, so far, there had been nothing I’ve disliked about the competition.

The village of Llay is located a few miles north-west of Wrexham and, according to Wikipedia: Prior to the 1960s, Llay was a coal mining village. Llay Main Colliery, at one time the largest colliery in Wales and after 1952 the deepest pit in the UK, was a major employer for the area before its coal reserves were exhausted in 1966. Another claim to fame is that current QPR manger Mark Hughes lived in the village until the age of four years.

Llay Welfare FC, founded in 1931, play behind the Miners Welfare, which was the largest such building in the country when completed in 1931. A number of sports and pastimes are catered for including bowing, cricket and 3G football. The football pitch was on the far side of the cricket square in relation to the cricket pavilion. Three sides were railed off with cover by the left-hand goal. On the far touchline was a seated stand (61 seats) and adjacent covered standing as well as the dugouts.

Programmes, £1, were on sale by the cricket pavilion and I appreciate the help of the Llay manager for sorting out the teamsheets.

It is fair to say that the 2011/12 season hasn’t been the most kindest for Llay Welfare (15th position with just 12 points from 26 games) and they went into this game occupying one of the two relegation places in the Premier League table. I’ve no idea whether the grounds of three promotion chasing sides at the top of the Division 1 table – Borras Park Albion, Saltney Town and Argoed United – will meet Premier Division criteria by the 30th April deadline. Assuming they do, they Llay will have to make up a three-point deficit from their remaining four games to avoid the drop.

On the other hand, visitors Chirk AAA (6th position with 44 points from 22 games) had enough games in hand to overtake leaders Mold Alexandra (56 point sfrom 28 games), but all the clubs above them also had games in hand as well.

With a message of “right attitude gets the right result”, Llay Welfare (in black and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) got the game underway in rain attacking up the slope, left to right in relation to the dugouts.

The visitors soon tested Llay goalkeeper Dave Williams who got down to stop a shot from Jamie Rogers and Nathan Humphries cleared the loose ball out for a corner. They continued to create chances and Joe Roberts should have scored on the quarter hour when he received a pass from Steve Allman but fired unchallenged over the bar. Williams was soon called into action again to save Rogers’ near-post shot.

Llay were felt to have made a “good start” and took a 22nd-minute lead. Luke Cahill battled past two defenders as he got into the area on the right and lifted a shot over Chirk goalkeeper Ashley Roberts into the net.

However, the home side suffered a blow with the 29th minute dismissal of defender Humphries for two booking picked up in three minute, the first for a foul and the second for handball.

Trailing to a side with ten men and threatened with relegation, Chirk’s bench were not happy – “This is not good enough boys”. They had a decent chance to equalise in stoppage time. Dave Williams kept out an initial shot from Allman and Joe Roberts’ follow-up was blocked by a defender before Alun Williams fired straight at the Llay goalkeeper.

After most people heading around the cricket pitch to spend half-time in or near the cricket pavilion – tea bar open – the complexion of the game changed dramatically within three minutes of the restart. Just 30 seconds into the second half, Dan Currie fired a right foot shot from the left corner of the area over Dave Williams and into the net.

Chirk quickly took the lead with a super strike. Rogers got down the right and pulled the ball back for Joe Roberts to send a 20-yard right-foot volley into the top left corner of the net.

Watching the game between the dugouts in the company of Leo and Len with four-legged Ben, I felt Llay retained the desire to win despite conceding those two quick goals. Ashley Roberts beat away Dan Currie’s shot.

However, they suffered a blow when Chirk further extended their lead midway through the half. Rogers fed Joe Roberts who hit a low shot from 15 yards out into the bottom left corner.

Once again, Llay responded to halve the deficit in the 71st minute and set up an exciting finish. Eddie Maurice Jones drove low past Ashley Roberts into the bottom left corner from fully 30 yards out.

“Don’t give up,” Llay were told and they pressed for an equaliser. Ashley Roberts acrobatically parried a shot from Cahill.

A mistake by Matt S. Davies almost proved for the home side as Richard Williams-Cooke got clear but couldn’t get in a shot after rounded goalkeeper Dave Williams.

Llay needed to bag an equaliser with a “big push” to get "what they deserved". But their fightback suffered another blow when Dave Browning received a straight red card for a foul on Mike Taylor was couldn’t continue. With all three substitutes used, Chirk were down to ten men to face the nine men of Llay.

Chirk put the outcome beyond doubt in the 88th minute with their fourth goal. Currie scored his second goal of the evening with a right-foot shot from the left corner of the area into the far top corner of the net.

Llay Welfare (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Dave Williams, 2. Matt Davies, 3. Dave Browning, 4. Nathan Humphries, 5. Steven Halliwell, 6. Dan Parry, 7. Jack Mountford, 8. Tom Maurice Jones (capt), 9. Luke Cahill, 18. Matt S. Davies, 11. Eddie Maurice Jones. Subs: 12. John Rhys Edwards (for Matt Davies, 73), 14. Ian Thomas (for Cahill, 79), 15. Joel Roberts.

Chirk AAA (red/black/red): 1. Ashley Roberts, 2. Mike Taylor, 3. Jamie Jones, 4. Stepehn Rees, 5. Nick Jones, 6. Alun Williams, 7. Dan Currie, 8. Paul Edwards (capt), 9. Joe Roberts, 10. Steve Allman, 11. Jamie Rogers. Subs: 12. Craig Goodwin (for Williams, 62), 14. Matt Broome (for Allman, 62), 15. Richard Williams-Cooke (for Roberts, 68).

Referee: Mr Jones.

1-0 Luke Cahill (22)
1-1 Dan Currie (46)
1-2 Joe Roberts (48)
1-3 Joe Roberts (67)
2-3 Eddie Maurice Jones (71)
2-4 Dan Currie (88)

Llay: Nathan Humphries (YC, 26), Nathan Humphries (YC/RC, 29), Tom Maurice Jones (YC, 50), Dave Browning (RC, 84)
Chirk: Jamie Rogers (YC, 45), Dan Currie (YC, 61), Jamie Jones (YC, 74)