Saturday 7th February
Holywell Town 0 Aberystwyth Town 0
Aberystwyth win 3-2 on penalties
A hat trick of penalty saves from Aber keeper Mike Lewis, allied to successful strikes from Chris Venables, Luke Sherbon and Chris Davies saw the Black and Greens through to the Welsh Cup Quarter Finals after an indistinguished game at Halkyn Road, Holywell ended goalless after two hours.
An excellent crowd of 635 turned up on the day, and witnessed a first half which was strangely bereft of goalmouth action. Aber looked fairly comfortable in posession but struggled to create many meaningful opportunities, which could also be said for Holywell Town. Chris Venables sent a free kick narrowly wide, Criag Williams drew a smart save from home keeper Mike Platt and Mark Jones twice burst through the back four only to shoot just off target. At the other end the hosts' only meaningful effort was a low shot from Tony Roebuck which brought a smart save from Lewis, and the first half ended goal less, but with Aber ahead on points.
The Black and Greens dominated the early exchanges of the second half, with Venables again going close with free kick, Luke Sherbon flicking a header just over and Geoff Kellaway shooting wide. Stuart Jones was a towering presence in the visiting defence but to give Holywell credit, they did finally manage a spell of sustained pressure towards the end of the ninety minutes. Phil Lloyd was a handful all day and after bearing in on goal down the right flank he brought a superb save from Lewis. Then with 14 minutes to go Aber's Stephen Wright was sent off for a second yellow card, and the game really opened up. Paul Williams hit the woodwork for Holywell with a cross, Venables brought two more excellent saves from Platt, then Lloyd saw an effort cleared off the line before Lewis again was at full stretch to deny Williams, and ensure the game went into extra time.
Despite the numerical advantage Holywell visibly tired in extra time, and stuck with one up font against ten men. Aber to their credit created two superb chances, with Mark Jones drawing yet another top drawer save from Platt, and Kellaway coming within an inch of winning the game with a lob, but a game neither side really deserved to win ended at 0-0 after extra time, meaning the drama of a penalty shoot out prevailed.
Tom McElmeel and Venables scored the first two spot kicks, before Lewis saved from Roebuck and Platt stopped Mark Jones' pen. Rob Salathiel and Luke Sherbon also scored, but when Lewis did superbly to deny home captain John Leonard and Chris Davies netted Aber's third pen, it meant that Greame Williams had to score to keep Holywell's dream alive. Sadly for the homesters his weak spot kick was easily gathered by one of the WPL's stand out keepers this season, and Aber had made it through to the Welsh Cup Quarter Finals, despite never really reaching Top Gear.
Aber return to League action next week with a visit to Broughton to face Airbus, and after a physically demanding encounter the Players will be glad of a week's recovery time. Meanwhile supporters will dream of more Cup Glory to come!