Sunday 8th April
Newtown 1-2 Aberystwyth Town
Aberystwyth Town set up a JD Welsh Cup Final clash with Connah’s Quay Nomads as they battled to a deserved 2-1 victory in a tense semi-final clash on Sunday afternoon at Maes Tegid. A first half header (23) and a second half penalty (53) from Aber right back Declan Walker were enough to see Aber through to victory, despite Nick Rushton’s late penalty pulling a goal back for Newtown. The seasiders will now face a cup final clash with the Nomads on Sunday 6th May.
On a mild springtime afternoon at Maes Tegid, Aber walked out to vociferous roars from the large number of travelling supporters as they looked to make it through to their third welsh cup final in 10 years. The game started with both sides looking nervous and cautious of committing to any real attacking play as both goalkeepers remained bystanders for the opening 15 minutes. Newtown’s Neil Mitchell came closest to opening the scoring in the early stages as his curling effort sailed wide of Chris Mullock’s far post. On 23 minutes, Aber began to find their passing rhythm and almost immediately reaped the rewards. As midfield maestro Malcolm Melvin dropped deep to collect the ball, he looked up and passed forwards to Joe Phillips who then turned inside and played a magnificent pass across to John Owen. As the ball fell to the Criccieth cracker, he looked up and played an inch-perfect first time pass to Declan Walker who charged into the box to give Aber the lead with a glorious diving header, making it it 1-0. This sent the Aber tifosi into raptures as they broke out into wild celebrations. The goal gave Town a lift and they gained control of the game slowly, restricting Newtown to half chances at the very best. On the stroke of half time, with few chances of note, Craig Hobson suddenly found himself racing down on goal from John Owen’s pass, and as he went to shoot he appeared to be fouled on the edge of the penalty area....but referee Lee Evans waved away the appeal as Aber held on to their slender advantage until the break.
As they have done in many recent games, Aber came out for the second half with increased verve and intensity, and on 53 minutes they were handed a glorious opportunity to double their lead. Newtown ‘keeper Dave Jones floored Ryan Wade in the penalty area, and Walker stepped up to slot home the resulting spot-kick to make it 2-0. The poor old grandstand where the Aber fans had gathered really was rocking now, as the players raced over to celebrate in front of their loyal followers. Newtown immediately introduced striker Ethan Jones as they looked for a way back into the game, but it was the black and greens who were becoming stronger and stronger in the game. On 65 minutes Ryan Wade’s attempted scissor kick was well blocked, before midfielder Tom Owens was introduced in place of target man Craig Hobson; who again put an impressive shift in for Aber. As the game entered the final 15 minutes, the Robins began to commit more and more men forward, forcing Aber deeper into their own half. On 76 minutes, they were awarded a way back into the game as captain fantastic Ashley Young was adjudged to have handled Joe Kenton’s cross in the penalty area. Nick Rushton stepped up to convert the spot kick and suddenly the game was back in the balance at 2-1. But rather than cave in or show their nerves, Aber stood firm, marshalled by man-mountain Ryan Wollacott in defence and the magic combination of Melvin and Damien Allen in midfield. Luke Borrelli was introduced in place of the effervescent Joe Phillips, whilst Kurt Sherlock came on in place of the tireless Wade. The Robins threw everything but the kitchen sink at the seasiders as the game approached added time, but goalkeeper Chris Mullock was providing a calming influence in goal, whilst local hero Matthew Jones let nothing or no one past him on the left hand side. With 4 minutes of added time to play, Aber executed their game management tactics to perfection, and very nearly put the game to bed as Melvin raced through on goal before chipping his shot inches wide of the post. Nevertheless, it wasn’t to prove costly as the full time whistle blew much to the delight of the players and management.
A truly memorable occasion for everyone associated with Aberystwyth Town, made even sweeter by the fantastic celebrations that ensued with the travelling supporters and the players on the pitch. Aber’s 12th man really had roared their team on.....and their team had produced a phenomenal performance to send the club into another JD Welsh Cup Final!