Cup look back: heatbreak for Aber Town

Photo by Chris Howells

Photo by Chris Howells

ABERYSTWYTH Town were left heartbroken as a three goal comeback gave The New Saints victory in the Welsh Cup Final on May 3rd.

A spirited first half performance had seen Aber Town hold a 2-0 lead at half time in the game, but the league champions were ruthless in the second half scoring three to win the game 3-2.

Aber Town have not won the Welsh Cup since 1900 so the second half collapse was excruciating for players and supporters alike. Aber last appeared in the final of the competition in 2009, losing 2-0 to Bangor City on that occasion.

Over 1200 fans were packed into The Racecourse Ground, home of Wrexham FC, to watch a thrilling match which ultimately went the way of the league champions TNS.

The first chance of the game fell to the ‘Saints’. Exciting winger Mike Wilde broke into the box, before cutting the ball back to Matty Williams whose shot was well blocked by Wyn Thomas.

The next few minutes saw a booking for Cledan Davies for a clumsy challenge and a string of strong saves from Seasiders goalkeeper Mike Lewis.

The breakthrough came in the 11th minute. A floated free kick from the right hand side from Antonio Corbisiero, was headed into the six yard box by Captain Stuart Jones. Once the ball fell to the feet of league top-scorer Chris Venables the end result was never in doubt. He smashed the ball into the roof of the net sending the Green and Blacks into raptures.

More was to come for Aber as barely a minute later Mark Jones weaved into the box before being felled by TNS defender Sam Finley. Referee Brian James was a popular man in Aberystwyth when he pointed to the spot and Venables made no mistakes making it 2-0 with the penalty.

Aber seemed content with their 2-0 lead and allowed TNS to attack for the remainder of the first half. Lewis was in great form, holding several shots well.

The breakthrough for TNS should have come just before half time as a vicious inswinging corner found its way into the Aber six yard box. Matty Williams was waiting but the ball hit him square in the face and evaded the goal line.

The second half began with the Seasiders sitting deep and allowing TNS to have the ball. A string of excellent chances fell to the League Champions but the Aber defence held fast. Davies and Jones pulled off a number of superb blocks to halt TNS.

The game saw real drama in the 70th minute. Wilde collected the ball on the wing of TNS and swung in a cross which appeared to hit the hand of Aber defender Peter Hoy in the penalty box. TNS looked desperately to the referee but to no avail.

Aber Town proceeded to break down the other end and almost put the game to bed. Mark Jones released Craig Williams down the wing. In turn he played an excellent ball into the six yard box which just escaped Geoff Kellaway.

Aber would soon rue the missed opportunity as just minutes later another TNS cross met the hand of Hoy. This time the referee was not so charitable and pointed to the spot. Substitute Greg Draper made no mistakes with the penalty, dispatching it low to the right.

TNS would soon be on level terms as Mike Lewis failed to come and collect a dangerous free kick into the six yard box, Draper on hand to head home the equaliser.

The comeback was complete in the 86th minute as a whipped cross from Aeron Edwards found its way to Mike Wilde, who pulled off an excellent volleyed finish to make the score 3-2 to TNS.

The result was hard on Aber, who fought to the last. TNS Director of Football Craig Harrison told the BBC that “Aberystwyth were the better team [in the first half]. We had to prove why we are champions.”

Despite the loss, Aber will still enter the first qualifying round of the Europa League due to TNS’ league title. The draw will take place in Switzerland on the 23rd of June.