Llanfair United 4 Abermule 1

Friday 24th August 2012
Llanfair United 4 Abermule 1
Spar Mid Wales League Division 2
At: Mount Field
Kick-off: 6-30 pm
Admission: groundhop ticket, programme: £1 (12 Pages)
Weather: rain
Attendance: 261
Duration: first-half: 46:34; second-half: 48:47

Llanfair United, based in Llanfair Caereinion, had the honour of opening the eleven-game 2012 Welsh Groundhop and the evening proved a success both on and off the field, despite the rain. They recorded an impressive 4-1 win over neighbours Abermule, which took them top of Division Two, after officially opening their new stand shortly before kick-off.

I’m sure you know the format of groundhops by now and the format of the 2012 August Bank Holiday Groundhop was not dissimilar to that used in mid Wales in 2010 and 2011 – a Friday evening game (here at Llanfair) followed by further games on tomorrow (at Penybont, Radnor Valley, Presteigne St Andrews and Hay St Marys), Sunday (at Tywyn Bryncrug, Aberdyfi and Machynlleth) and Bank Holiday Monday (at Welshpool, Dolgellau and Dyffryn Banw). Eleven games in 72 hours over a long weekend of football, expertly organised by Chris and Laurence. Couldn’t be better!

The modes of transport this evening to get from the Hop HQ hotel at Dolforwyn to the ground were novel for me – ‘hop’ coach to Welshpool in time for the 17.05 narrow gauge stream train to Llanfair Caereinion before returning to the coach for a quick trip through the tight streets in the village centre and up the hill to the ground. I can’t recall ever travelling to a ground by steam train before!

Chris mentioned on the coach that Llanfair would be opening their new stand prior to the game and they did – it certainly got good use on a wet and gloomy evening! First, a tarpaulin was removed to reveal the name ‘The Ivor Owen Stand’ and a white-haired balding gentleman wearing a brown coat cut the ribbon at the foot of the stairs. His name – Ivor Owen! More on him later and also in the Dyffyn Banw report.

For what it is worth, the embryonic Division Two league table showed Llanfair United (3 points from 1 game) in second position after a 2-0 win at home to Rhosgoch Rangers. Abermule (0 points from 1 game) were thirteenth and bottom following their 6-2 defeat at home to Hay St Marys, also played last Saturday. Seven of the 13 teams had a record of ‘played 0’, ‘points 0’.

Thankfully, the rain had (temporarily) eased just in time for kick-off and visitors Abermule (wearing red and black striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) got the game underway defending the Mount Road end in the first half.

Llanfair dominated the opening exchanges and created several chances before taking the lead in the 13th minute. Geraint Jones picked up a throughball from Chris Gethin on the left inside the area and fired a well-struck low shot into the far corner of the net.

A right-wing corner delivered into the area from the right by Paul Griffiths led to Llanfair’s second goal just after the midpoint of the first half. The ball fell to Gethin at the near post who slotted home from barely six yards out.

It was all going well for the home side though Abermule were becoming more competitive and halved the deficit on the half-hour mark with the aid of some luck. Dave Anthony blocked a clearance from goalkeeper Lee Andrew and the ball flew into the empty net.

During the latter stages of the first half, I started to walk round to the gazebo housing the lineups, which I’d not properly noted down before kick-off, and got chatting to John Holland (aka the ‘Lollipop Man’). We mentioned the stand opening and John wondered who ‘Ivor Owen’ was. Little did he know that ‘is’ rather than ‘was’ applied to the said gentleman who was very much alive and stood next to us! All good fun! The website mentioned that Mr Owen had ‘put in over 60 years service at the club and naming the new stand was a way of saying thank you for all his hard work’.

Llanfair created chances at the start of the second half. Richard Ainsley hit the bar from the kick-off and both Ross Frame and Gethin sent shots over the target.

The visitors, however, were very much in the thick of the action and almost equalised just before the hour mark. Anthony hit the post and Stuart Emberton’s follow-up shot was headed overt by a defender. Anthony was determined to score again and saw another effort booted off the line.

Frame had a goal disallowed for offside before Llanfair scored a crucial third goal in the 74th minute. Paul Griffths fed Gethin who bear Ryan Edkins with a low first-time shot.

Substitute Andrew Hughes broke down the left and crossed into the area for Geraint Jones to fire his second and Llanfair’s fourth goal into the bottom left corner.

I watched the closing stages from the new stand with views of the village and surrounding hills in the gathering gloom. The stand, with five terrace steps, is certainly impressive at this level of Welsh football and also new hard-standing laid in front at pitch-side.

So, this was a decent start to the hop with five goals. I was asked by my Dad to predict the number of goals scored over the whole eleven games and guessed 37; he texted back 40 goals. Let’s see how accurate our predictions will be.

Llanfair United (navy blue / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Lee Andrew (capt), 2. Robert Bumford, 3. Robert Bennett, 4. Paul Griffiths, 5. Llion Davies, 6. Daniel Jones, 7. Geraint Jones, 8. Richard Ainsley, 9. Ross Frame, 10. Chris Gethin, 11. Matthew Spencer. Subs: 12. Aaron Warwick (not used), 14. Matthew Jones (for Ainsley, 84), 15. Andrew Hughes (for Spencer, 65).

Abermule (red and black stripes / black / red): 1. Ryan Edkins, 2. Kurtis Smith, 3. Neil Lloyd Jones, 4. Ashley Williams, 5. Steffan Rowlnds (capt), 6. Robert Bayliss, 7. David Anthony, 8. Scott Jones, 9. Mark Hughes, 10. Huw McGrath, 11. Stuart Emberton. Subs: 12. Dyfrig Rees (for Hughes, 90), 15. Sam Swinbourne (for Anthony, 62), 16. David Laird (not used), 17. Leon Williams (for Neil Lloyd Jones, 75).

Referee: Gwilym Lewis (Caersws).
Assistants: Sue Jones and Sam Richards.

1-0 Geraint Jones (13)
2-0 Chris Gethin (24)
2-1 David Anthony (31)
3-1 Chris Gethin (74)
4-1 Geraint Jones (81)

Cards: none