Monday, 19 September 2011

Bala Palaver

Llanelli in the all-red strip

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 19 September 2011 at Maes Tegid
Bala Town 2 (Loughlin 64, Darlington 88)
Llanelli 4 (Griffiths 7,13, 71 Moses 63)
Welsh Premier League
This was the only accessible game for me today.  #422 on the lifetime list.
This match in one sentence
Entertaining throughout, but never exciting, because Llanelli had a two-goal cushion for 75 minutes and a hat-trick hero up front.
So what?
Bala Town drop to second in the table on goal difference after this first league defeat of the season – they have been a surprise package after escaping relegation through a reprieve last season. Llanelli stay fourth, but are now only three points behind.
Something random
Learn Welsh through football (acknowledgement to the programme!)

Manager – Rheolwr
Programme – Rhaglen
Football – Pêl-Droed
Referee  Dyfarnwr
A good game – Am gêm dda
The drama unfolds
The match was preceded, of course, by an impeccable minute of silence to show respect for the loss of life of four miners in South Wales this week.

Llanelli took the game by the scruff of the neck and were two up after only fourteen minutes, pretty much killing it as a contest.  My first clip is from early on and contains a fine “nutmeg” about forty seconds in.

Rhys Griffiths ran on to a through ball over the top for the first goal and finished neatly.  The first pic shows just how much time and space he had.  0-1

1-0, and Griffiths wheels away for a low-key celebration
The same player headed in to the roof of the net via the outstretched hand of Bala keeper Terry McCormick for the second.  0-2

The second clip is taken from this part of the game.

Bala worked hard to try to get back into the match, but Llanelli looked strong defensively.  As a shower began, I spent most of the rest of the half trying to get a nice rainbow-and-football photograph!  At one point, Bala broke through for a two-on-one moment but the flag was up for offside.  Llanelli nearly added a third from a lob that looked in for a moment from the far end.  0-2 at half-time

Llanelli used their high-line defence to catch Bala offside several times in the second half.  Although the home side had a fair share of possession, it was another Llanelli goal after 63 minutes that underlined where the points were going.  It was a good low shot from the edge of the box by Craig Moses, who was in the right place when the ball broke to him.  0-3

Bala got one back almost immediately.  This was excellent target-man work by Lee Hunt, who held the ball up intelligently in the area and laid off a precision pass to Liam Loughlin.  1-3

However, any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out by another header from Griffiths, this time from a left-wing cross.  1-4

There was time for a very good consolation goal for Bala’s substitute Rhys Darlington, who cut in on the Bala left, made room and then finished well with a shot across the keeper to the far corner.  Final score 2-4
Rhys Griffiths of Llanelli.  He needs to work on his celebrations though – the first was greeted with the same level of animation as one would show on the arrival of a mug of Horlicks.
Snippets from the programme
Two things caught the eye.  Mark Pitman’s piece on the Welsh national team included a paragraph or two on former West Brom youngster Danny Gabbidon, now with QPR via Cardiff City and West Ham.  Danny had retired from international football with 44 caps but was persuaded to return by the new management under Gary Speed.  However, by all accounts he had a bad time against Australia in a friendly.  “Despite this, the easy decision for Speed would have been to play Gabbidon against Montenegro.  The strong, in-form and experienced opponents would surely find Gabbidon a far tougher physical challenge than young Darcy Blake, but more importantly for Speed, he would not have left himself open for criticism if an expected defeat had followed.  The manager stuck to his belief and principle however, Blake would have a much bigger part to play in future years with Wales than Gabbidon, and Gabbidon had no reason to merit a place in the side after an awful display against Australia.  Blake played, Wales won, Speed had taken a significant step forward in becoming a manager.”

The programme also noted that 21 clubs have applied for the necessary licence to be a Welsh Premier League club next year.  At the moment there are only 14, the current 12, Haverfordwest (relegated last year) and Llandudno.  FAW’s Andrew Howard said, “The (feeder league) is getting more and more competitive … it is vital for the WPL to have active promotion and relegation annually.”  An issue seems to be that 7 of the 9 second-tier applicants are from the north of the principality.  Clubs are assessed on their infrastructure, stadium, youth development, legal, financial and coach qualifications, personnel and club charters.
What I learned today
A brief trainspotting moment … the 1325 from Bala to Llanuwchllyn.

The B4396/B4391 route from Shrewsbury to Bala via Knockin (where the village store is really called The Knockin Shop) is a delightful drive in the autumn sunshine as the greens are turning to red, orange and brown and there is yellow gorse and violet heather too.  Who says men can’t do colours? I can count six there for starters.

Maes Tegid really is a lovely location for a football match.  It should be on every hopper's must-do list.  If you look closely in this pic you can see the rainbow.  Blue and indigo in there too, so we're up to eight colours for the day.

What Next?
No idea – watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details.  Thinking about an FA Cup replay somewhere on Tuesday, but will depend on the in-tray at work!

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