Saturday 18th July 2015 (2pm).
Cambrian & Clydach BGC Academy 5-2 Treforest
Sporting Marvels Pre-Season Invitational. Group A.
Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy, Clydach Vale.
Attendance: Circa 30.
After this afternoon’s early friendly between Sporting Marvels and Llantwit Fardre, the highlight of this today’s action would be the much anticipated (for myself at least) encounter between the highest ranked adult side in this tournament, Treforest of the South Wales Alliance Premier Division and the Rhondda based and highly-respected Cambrian & Clydach BGC Academy, who as of this season play their football in the Welsh Premier Development League.
I’d never watched the young Cambrian side in this tournament as their previous matches were scheduled whilst I was still on holiday but I’d heard more than enough plaudits from friends who had watched some of their previous group matches.
Such is the strength of this young Cambrian side that I’m lead to believe they had won their previous two matches against full adult sides and amassed a goal difference of something like +13 (Apologies for the predictive nature of these, it seems getting a league table for these ties is very difficult!).
The Cambrian side are well respected within the south Wales footballing community. I’ve read threads about them on Cardiff City fan forums over the past two or three years and they seem to have grown in stature and influence in that time, so I was definitely pretty excited to say the least.
Reports from friends at previous games ranged from “They were pretty decent” all the way up to “They were machines, at the final whistle the other side went off the pitch knackered and they went and did shuttle runs for twenty minutes to cool down!”
With reports such as these, it’s hard to make out whether the side would live up to the expectations set, so I was definitely excited to check the Cambrian side out for myself.
Treforest returned to Cambrian after a disappointing 5-0 defeat to Sporting Marvels a few days previous to this fixture, surely determined to give a better account of themselves and set down a marker for their ambitions this season. They are by all accounts a decent side who have made the highest tier of the South Wales Alliance (or at least it’s previous incarnation) their home for quite a while now and have been knocking on the door of the Welsh League for some time now.
I should have known Cambrian were going to be something special when the side emerged from the changing rooms fully kitted up with half an hour of the previous match on the pitch left to go. The young side prepared themselves on the touchlines, warming up, stretching and performing accurate 40 yard passes to each other like junior Steven Gerrard-models in the making!
Eventually both sides took to the pitch to kick off this intriguing encounter. It became clear pretty soon on in this game that Treforest would have their work cut out for them if they were to come away from this afternoon’s game with any points in the tournament.
The young Cambrian side looked spritely and pacey, lacking a little of the physical prowess that their opponents had, but the majority of the Cambrian side are 16 and 17 year old lads – but I found myself wondering what these guys would be like when they’ve all had a year down the gym! It doesn’t even bear thinking about!
Players like the highly rated Cameron Keetch, Sam Jones and Josh Maksimovic dominated proceedings in the Treforest half and at times played football that I could only class as being ‘sublime’. The young side played with a pace, an urgency and a determination that is so rarely seen so early on in the pre-season calendar.
Treforest held resolute and made several promising pieces of attacking play in the opening half an hour. However the opening goal deservedly went to the young Cambrian side, namely through Connor Wescombe who went on a mazey run beating Treforest’s No.11 and hitting a powerful shot underneath the helpless Treforest goalkeeper from 12 yards out to give his side a 1-0 advantage.
Almost immediately from the kick off Cambrian doubled their advantage through Josh Maksimovic who hit a lovely effort from 25 yards out which left the goalkeeper with little hope.
At this point the young Rhondda side really started turning on the style, Sam Jones in particular had a great first half, getting a lot of success down the channels, beating his marker for pace on a number of occasions.
With five minutes to go before the half time interval Treforest found themselves with an opportunity to regain control in the match when Lewis Thomas scored his side’s first goal. Cambrian were a little slow to switch back on following a Treforest free kick, the ball was fizzed across the box to Thomas whose powerful shot couldn’t be stopped from close range.
As the second half commenced, Cambrian proved to still be a threat and were unlucky not to score a third when Maksimovic had his effort saved off the line by Treforest’s No.3 on the goal line. Cambrian were really looking good but Treforest to be fair to them were remaining pretty resolute at the back.
Treforest drew level mid way through the second half when Cambrian’s No.7 lost the ball to his opposite number on the half way line. Treforest’s George Daly powered forward with the ball, making his way into the box and slotting home past the Cambrian keeper to level affairs.
The match would only be level for 7 minutes. Cambrian pushed forward and were rewarded for their determination with a brilliant goal from wide man Sam Jones who hit a peach of a goal by way of a lobbed effort to put the Rhondda side back in front again.
With ten minutes left in the fixture Cambrian regained the two goal advantage they squandered earlier through Evan Jones who skilfully picked up the ball deep in the Treforest half and beat his marker and slotted the ball home from close range to give his side a 4-2 lead.
Cambrian were unlucky not to score a fifth with five minutes of normal time to play. Sam Jones looked to have scored a great goal after he hit a lovely effort that cannoned into the net off the crossbar, but unfortunately the referee pulled back the action and awarded an indirect free kick ten yards from goal as a reaction to a Treforest player letting out what the referee judged as being some “extreme dissent”. Perhaps unfairly given that Cambrian had scored anyway.
Cambrian wrapped up the scoring in the second minute of injury time with what was a fairly calamitous goal through Keane Thomas after a spot of pinball in the penalty area. The ball looked to cannon into the net off the foot of Thomas despite his team-mates humorous claims of an own goal.
Minutes later the referee brought this entertaining encounter to a close and Cambrian took another step forward in the competition, still remaining unbeaten in three fixtures against adult sides playing at respectable levels in the Welsh pyramid.
The boys, to be fair to them played absolutely superbly and won themselves many admirers on the day, playing in front of a lot of people, myself included, who had never seen them before.
I’m seriously not over-exaggerating when I say that some of these boys will go on to play professional football at some level in the not too distant future. This blog entry may sound fairly gushing in it’s approval of the young Rhondda side, but I admit that any expectations I had of the Cambrian side were vastly underestimated.
Cambrian will surely be a force to be reckoned with in this tournament and even going forward into their season in the Welsh Premier Development League. I will certainly be sure to catch one of their remaining games in this tournament where I can.
Treforest on the balance of things were unlucky on the day, they performed a lot better than they did against Sporting Marvels on Thursday but were unlucky to come up against such a strong side in Cambrian & Clydach Academy.
I wish both sides the very best of luck in the rest of the competition and their upcoming seasons.
My Man of the Match: There were a whole plethora of candidates, but for me Cambrian’s Sam Jones had a superb game and I was delighted to see him rewarded with a goal for his efforts. Keep an eye on him and all of the other kids at Cambrian.