Monday 13th April 2015.
AFC Trebanog 0-9 Gelli Hibs.
Rhondda & District Football League, Premier Division.
The Oval, Ynyshir.
Attendance: Circa 50.
After taking in a disappointing Penygraig United performance on Saturday against Blaenrhondda, I was pleased to find that Gelli Hibs would be making up their game in hand tonight at The Oval in Ynyshir against AFC Trebanog.
All of the sides in the top four of the Rhondda League have stuttered with their form in the last week or two, dropping points against lower sides and the pendulum has swung from Penygraig comfortably at the head of the table a few weeks ago, to Trebanog holding the lead last week, to Gelli Hibs holding the lead following a victory over the Trebanog side.
Tonight offered Gelli Hibs the chance to return to the top of the table if they could manage to sweep aside a tricky fixture against the newly formed AFC Trebanog, who have picked up 6 wins and 4 draws this season.
I’d seen Gelli Hibs in action twice before tonight. The first of which being an entertaining stalemate against Tonyrefail Welfare and the latter being an impressive win against a then-top of the table Trebanog where they laid the title credentials out on the table for all to see.
My only previous experience of AFC Trebanog was a strong willed but ultimately disappointing 8-0 loss to village rivals Trebanog. It was clear that AFC Trebanog would have their work cut out for them this evening if they were to take anything from tonight’s game.
Gelli Hibs started the match the better of the two sides, although it must be said that AFC Trebanog started the game better than they did previously against Trebanog. If my memory serves me right, AFC were 3-0 down after ten minutes in that game.
The Trebanog side defended pretty resolutely until the tenth minute when the Hibs finally made their pressure and chances count. Hibs played a series of well worked passes to feet that split the Trebanog defence in half. With a clear sight of goal Hibs No.8 placed the ball delicately into the far corner of the goal from the edge of the box to put his side ahead.
AFC Trebanog needed to steady the decks in the following minutes but failed to do so and were caught out in cruel fashion just two minutes later. Gelli Hibs scored a very bizarre goal when an attempted clearance by the AFC goalkeeper hit one of his defenders and seemed to be cannoning in for an own goal.
At the very last second and with only centimetres to go before it crossed the line as an own goal, Hibs No.8 got his foot on the ball and slammed it into the back of net, doubling his sides lead.
Hibs No.8 would seal his hat trick four minutes later, a magnificent hat-trick within the first quarter of an hour. His side were awarded a free kick about 25 yards from goal. No.8 stepped up to take the kick and placed a fantastic shot into the top left corner of the goal. The AFC goalkeeper made an excellent attempt at a save but such was the brilliance and power of the shot, there would be very few goalkeepers in the land that would have stopped this one.
Within 15 minutes Hibs were commanding a 3-0 lead and any hope any assembled Trebanog FC players in the crowd had of a favour from their village friends were surely dashed by now?
AFC Trebanog didn’t spend all of the game in their own half however. Their first real chance fell to their No.10 who picked up a cross from outside the box and fired a testing effort towards goal, the shot however, hit on the outside of the foot always seemed to be curling away from goal.
Gelli Hibs further showed their dominance in this game and took a 4-0 lead on the half hour when their No.9 beat his marker and rounded the keeper before placing the ball into an empty net in front of him.
At this point the frustration the AFC players must have been feeling was clear for all to see. Two AFC Trebanog players, No.6 and No.9 found themselves being spoken to firmly by the referee when their arguments between each other threatened to spill over.
Such was the strength of the Hibs midfield that AFC Trebanog started trying to resort to a form of the long ball game. Making attempts to send the ball long down the channels. Unfortunately for AFC Trebanog, both of Gelli’s full backs had a very good game and nullified most of Trebanog’s long balls and linked up well with their winger colleagues.
With a 4-0 lead at half time, Gelli Hibs truthfully could have picked a number and won by that amount to be honest. AFC Trebanog didn’t particularly play badly either. Gelli Hibs simply did the basics very well and played some absolutely lovely passing football through the midfield.
AFC Trebanog started the second half in slightly calamitous fashion when an attempted clearance by their No.5 took a wicked boomerang slice and went just inches wide of his own post.
From the resulting corner, if they hadn’t settled the three points in the first half, they did now. Gelli Hibs No.7 fired home from 2 yards when a defensive mix up in the six yard box meant the ball went through three sets of Trebanog legs before falling at the feet of the Gelli man. No.7 made no mistake and gave his side a 5-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Gelli’s No.8 was unlucky not to add to his hat-trick when he beat a Trebanog defender and found himself looking down on the Trebanog goalkeeper outside the box. Only a phenomenal tackle by Trebanog’s No.5 stopped him from being in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
If Gelli played the first half in third gear, when encouraged by their managers on the touchline they upped the ante in the last half an hour, sensing that they needed to improve their goal difference in the title run in.
Hibs added to their lead just after the hour mark when (I believe..) their No.6 dispatched an extremely powerful header from a corner kick towards goal. The Trebanog goalkeeper made a valiant attempt to stop the shot and to his credit did catch the ball, unfortunately such was the power of the headed effort that the goalkeeper was unable to contain the effort which went a yard or two over the goal line to make the score 6-0.
Gelli Hibs No.10 in particular had a superb game, he linked up play between defence and attack brilliantly and was desperately unlucky not to come away from tonight’s match with a goal to his name (I don’t believe he scored anyway. In a game with 9 goals sometimes you can lose track of scorers).
On 68 minutes Gelli Hibs made the score 7-0 after another headed goal from a corner. This time the headed effort coming from their No.4 who did really well to get to the ball. He found himself second favourite in a challenge but still managed to get a shot on goal and was rewarded for his bravery.
Unfortunately for the No.4 I just mentioned, he found himself on the deck and hurt in a particularly painful…..male area a couple of minutes later when he found his (groin) area blocking a powerful AFC Trebanog clearance. I squirmed, his team mates squirmed, even the referee squirmed.
You don’t want to get deep freeze near the area, so there was little that the Gelli physio would have been able to do to alleviate his player’s pain. He looked to be in a lot of pain but bravely stayed on the field due to his side using all of their substitutions. Instead on the advice of his manager he took on a more attacking role.
A moment of light relief was provided in the 81st minute when the AFC Trebanog goalkeeper, perhaps frustrated with his sides lack of creativity in the second half went on a run up the field with the ball at his feet. His run reminded of the way I sometimes get frustrated on FIFA and try and make my goalkeeper go on a long mazey run. Unfortunately for Trebanog’s goalkeeper, he beat a few men before tripping over the ball about forty yards from goal. His defenders had the goal covered so Gelli Hibs were unable to capitalise on his fall.
Hibs No.8 rounded off a superb individual performance with his side’s eighth goal in the 85th minute. The player sliced through the AFC defence like a hot knife through butter (please excuse the dreadful cliche) and fired home clinically past a helpless Trebanog goalkeeper.
AFC Trebanog’s misery was compounded two minutes later when two Hibs midfielders linked up superbly, executing a textbook one-two for their No.11 to chip the goalkeeper beautifully from ten yards out.
With the score at 9-0, most sides would be forgiven for playing out the final three minutes at a slow pace, but admirably Gelli Hibs players and their manager urged their side forward to improve their goal difference going into the last four matches of the season (Trebanog FC’s goal difference is currently +110, whilst Gelli Hibs have a +107 goal difference).
Gelli Hibs tonight showed their title credentials and fired a warning shot to the other sides in the Top 4 who had all hoped that AFC Trebanog would have been able to do them a favour.
Such is the closeness of the title run-in that 3 wins and a draw may not be enough for Gelli Hibs to win the league. With 69 points, they sit one point above second placed Trebanog on 68 points. Penygraig United and Maerdy Social occupy third and fourth place, both sides with 65 points to their names, but lower goal differences of +83 and +50 respectively.
Gelli Hibs, arguably have the least difficult run-in, taking in games against Llwynypia, Tonyrefail BGC, Pentre Rovers and Maindy Conservative – all sides in the bottom half of the table. They go into these four games knowing that four victories will lead them to title glory, regardless of what the chasing pack do. On paper you’d fancy them to win all four, but as we all know – things don’t always go as planned.
Trebanog, have a slightly more difficult run-in, taking on fellow title rivals, the 4th placed Maerdy Social, followed by a tricky home match against Blaenrhondda who have taken points off Gelli Hibs and Penygraig United in recent weeks. They finish out their season with away trips to Penygraig BGC and Tonyrefail BGC where they would expect to pick up maximum points. Trebanog’s true test is whether they can come away from their Maerdy and Blaenrhondda matches still in the title race. If they can take maximum points they will need to hope that one of the sides playing Gelli Hibs in the closing weeks can do them a favour.
Penygraig United end the season with a double header against 5th placed Treorchy BGC that will be a very tough test. They finish up with games against Llwynypia and Tonyrefail BGC. A four point gap at this stage of the season is a big gap and Penygraig may feel that their Blaenrhondda defeat has put paid to any chances they had of taking the title. They will be hoping for both Gelli and Trebanog to slip up in the coming weeks.
Maerdy Social, currently sitting in fourth place welcome both Trebanog sides to their Maerdy Park ground, before finishing out the season with away games against Tonyrefail BGC and Penyrenglyn. They find themselves in a similar position to Penygraig, but their far lower goal difference means that they also need Penygraig United to drop points.
Gelli Hibs find themselves in the driving seat, but the pressure is certainly on. Any mistake from the Hibs and they will find Trebanog, or any of the chasing pack fast on their tails going into the last four matches of the season.
My Man of the Match: In a game where a side win 9-0 it’s always hard to pick an individual. Gelli’s No.10 played a superb game, he linked up play beautifully, he showed pace, skill and intelligence and on any other day would have been awarded man of the match. Gelli’s No.8 however did score four goals (possibly more), so therefore gets my dubious accolade.