Monday, 16 May 2011

Ecstatic in Prestatyn

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 15 May 2011 at Bastion Road
Prestatyn Town 2 Port Talbot 1
Welsh Premier League Playoff Semi-Final
#402 on the lifetime list and #5 for the Welsh Premier
This match in one sentence
A late, late wind-assisted winner in a game of two halves keeps open Prestatyn’s chance of European football for the first time.
So what?
For the final, Prestatyn Town will go to Neath, who beat Aberystwyth Town by the same scoreline today.  The winner will join TNS (league runners-up) and Llanelli (cupwinners) in the Europa League while champions Bangor City are not unreasonably in the Champions League qualifiers.
The drama unfolds
Port Talbot (in white) attacked with the wind in their favour during the first half, and they caused the more scary moments in their opponents’ penalty area.  Both teams had half-chances, but Port Talbot augmented the wind with a pressing game and kept Prestatyn largely on the back foot.  Ball control was relatively difficult in the prevailing conditions so the biggest threats came from set pieces.  The first clip is a scene-setter, and the second is also from the first half.

Just before the half-hour mark, Port Talbot took the lead from a corner, as shown in the third clip. The scorer is Lee Surman.  0-1

0-1 at half-time  With hindsight, one goal was not enough.

To quote a member of the Prestatyn backroom staff as he walked back to the dugout, “If I’d had a swear box I could retire now.”  Port Talbot held their own for fifteen minutes or so, and kept the ball on the floor for their own forays upfield.  However, Prestatyn were gradually mastering the conditions and pushing Port Talbot back in the same way that had happened in reverse in the first half.  On the hour, Lee Hunt came very close to an equaliser – his delicate roll of a shot went agonisingly past the post.  However, Port Talbot were also looking strong at the back and forcing Prestatyn to shoot from distance.  They were as comfortable as they were ever going to be - but the tide turned.

Three clips show critical incidents in the last ten minutes of the game.  The next two are "You are the Ref" moments and you can see whether you agree with the decisions for a couple of penalty claims.

The first one after 82 minutes, as you see, was turned down, but one was given two minutes later and Hunt stepped up.  1-1

As we contemplated extra-time with two minutes left of the ninety, a left-wing corner was viciously bent in and David Hayes got the final touch for a dramatic winner.  You can decide for yourself from the clip whether he meant it.  Straight out of the Faroese Premier League Book of Tactics, that one.

Final score 2-1
Alternative activity of equal excitement for tourists in Prestatyn
First hour – applying to the town council for planning permission to build two-up two-down sandcastles at the beach.
Last half-hour – playing human table football at the holiday camp next door in a gale against Robbie Savage, Gary Bellamy, Ryan Giggs and Neville Southall.
A snippet from the programme
From On the Ball with Robbo Goch:
“Even should we qualify for a European jaunt, what do you reckon the chances are of us enjoying a jolly somewhere like Madeira or Cyprus or Malta even?  Zip in my book.  You all know as well as I do that in the event we’d be paired with some bunch of shepherds from the Faroe Islands or stuck in the middle of some godforsaken industrial Belgian town or worse still packed off to Finland where the ale’s £42 a pint these days.”
What Next?
I am hopeful of one more meaningful game this season in a step 7 league somewhere in the mystic east.

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