VARSITY 2015 came to an end on Saturday evening under blue skies and beaming sunshine, with views of the Menai Straight in the most entertaining and nerve-wracking ending possible with the Men’s Football result decided by penalties.
In what has been a tough season for AUFC on the whole, seeing two managers come and go as they fought off relegation in the Spar Mid Wales League, this fixture was a chance to play some football, not having to worry about league safety or impressing a coach. Bangor started the match better, striker Gavin Jones latching on to a spilled ball and slotting past Alex Westbury in the Aber goal. Similarly to the Netball 1sts fixture, both teams came out of the blocks as adrenaline got to both sets of players, with the fans making it a very hostile environment for the visiting team and their supporters. AUFC thought they had scored an equaliser as quick-footed Tommy Sparks netted, only for his goal to be scrapped in an offside call, made very early by the linesman and only confirmed after hefty discussion with the referee. Gavin Jones got his second on the 17 minute mark, when his finish nutmegged Westbury. BUFC went into the break 2-0 up, with Aberyswtyth lacking creativity in midfield as long ball after long ball were hoofed up in Sparks’ direction, only to cleared away easily by the Bangor centre-halves, Mike Ali having a field day in the first 45 minutes.
Whatever was said in the AUFC changing room must have made a difference, as Tommy Sparks pounced on a squandered ball from a corner to get his team on the scoresheet for the first time. On the hour mark, Bangor’s James Stewart was sent for an early shower after a rash challenge resulted in referee Parkinson showing Stewart a second yellow. One man up, Aber’s tails were up too, and little Tom Sparks bagged his second goal with 25 minutes to play to set up a nail-biting finish. Extra time was looming, but Aber pressed and pressed, Liam Powell setting up a good chance for himself and subs Seb Seidel and Fraser Wheatley making a difference, giving Chris Warden a chance to play the ball on the ground a bit more often than he could in the first half. Neither team could find a third goal, so penalties were needed.
Gavin Jones scored Bangor’s first penalty, while Aber’s Fraser Wheatley missed his side’s first attempt. Bangor scored their next three, as did AUFC, Seb Seidel coolly sliding his attempt past Jack Smith. Substitute Jack Mansfield missed Bangor’s fifth penalty, which meant Aber centre-back Niall Jones had to score his, or BUFC would claim the victory. Behind the goal, Bangor’s green hooded army had gathered, and Niall Jones stepped up but his shot was saved by Jack Smith. Nantporth erupted with green lava and Aber’s men were left dejected on the field.
It was a courageous comeback by Chris Warden’s squad on the whole, their substitutes made a difference and Dan Pugh pushing higher and higher up the pitch to support Tom Sparks only caused more problems for Bangor. The red card could have been a defining moment, but Aber had chances late on.
Bangor University F.C: Jack Smith, Pete Talbot, Rhys Cooper, James Stewart, Brombley Simpson, Mike Ali, Mike Prescott, Daniel Sterna, Gavin Jones, Liam Hosking, Liam Walker. SUBS: Sam Parson, Rhys Crowther, Jack Mansfield, Luke Saunders, Ben Leaversley
Aberystwyth University F.C: Alex Westbury, Craig Chihuri, Matthew Hunton, Niall Jones, Josh Price, Dan Weaver, Liam Powell, Chris Warden (Captain), Tom Sparks, Rain Devlin, Dan Pugh SUBS: Sam Tobin, Seb Seidel, Alistair Palmer, Tom Francis, Sam Chapman, Fraser Wheatley, Sam Curtis
Man of the Match: Chris Warden, held his own in midfield throughout the 120 and dealt well with changing roles in the centre.