Saturday 14th November.
Cambrian & Clydach BGC 5-2 Llanwern.
Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy, Clydach Vale
Attendance: Circa 30.
There’s something depressing about south Wales in the middle of monsoon weather.
As I arose in the morning, I looked on in despair at my Twitter feed as more and more games were postponed due to the horrific weather that had been attacking south Wales overnight.
I had planned to take in a West/Mid Wales double header this Saturday. My plan had been to head up to my old friends Felinfach in Ceredigion to catch their cup tie against Machynlleth Reserves before zooming up the A487 to watch that evening’s Sgorio Welsh Premier League match between Aberystwyth Town and Port Talbot Town.
Unfortunately as I watched game after game fall by the wayside it soon became apparent that the risk of travelling 110 miles up the road for two games that were very risky was probably foolish.
As it turned out, Felinfach’s game was cancelled around midday whilst Aberystwyth’s game was cancelled at around 2pm.
Luckily, I caught word of a friendly match taking place at Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy between Welsh League Division One outfit Cambrian & Clydach BGC and Division Two struggling Gwent side Llanwern.
Not one to turn down a spot of football a couple of miles from the house I made my way up to Clydach.
On my arrival it was clear to see that even on a good 3G surface, like the one at Cambrian, that both sides were going to struggle with the awful weather.
I’ve never seen water pool on a 3G pitch, until now!
I really felt for the players as they appeared soaked to the bone before a ball was even kicked.
As luck would have it, the terrible weather brought together two sides I’d wanted to see. Cambrian & Clydach, despite living a mere four miles from their home ground and having seen their impressive development side more than once, strangely are a side I’d not seen until now.
I always enjoy watching Llanwern, as much for the company of one of the nicest characters in Welsh football, Danny Glorieux, a man I met earlier this year while he held down a role at Pontypridd Town.
Sadly since he left Pontypridd Town and moved nearer his Gwent home to Llanwern I’ve seen a lot less of the guy than I’d liked to. So it was great to catch up with him.
The other reason I love watching Llanwern, aside of course from their quite lovely insistence on playing a beautiful passing game, is the presence of the great man himself, Gareth Delve.
Now I don’t want to delve on things (groan!) so I won’t go too far down this alley, or this blog threatens to become a long thousand word diatribe declaring love for the silky skills of the man.
Long story short. Three of the UK’s saddest and greatest football groundhopping bloggers met up at a Llanwern friendly match against fellow Gwent outfit Ynysddu Welfare. I was one of them, Matt who runs the superb ‘Lost Boyos’ blog was there, so to was our good friend Gibbo.
We expected an average match between two fairly mismatched sides (Llanwern sat about 4 levels above Gwent County League side Ynysddu Welfare).
What we witnessed that day was a performance from Llanwern midfielder Gareth Delve was nothing short of majestic. To the point where he became a bit of a cult figure for us all. Twitter went into meltdown as we tried to find out who he was.
He skipped through players like they weren’t there. He laid passes on for his team mates whilst looking like he wasn’t really trying that hard. He nutmegged four players in a row at one point!
It all got a bit weird for a few days as we declared the Llanwern midfielder the new Diego Maradona. I’m sure it was all a bit embarrassing for Mr. Delve. Especially when I got a Facebook message from one of his work colleagues, my friend Rhonwen – who had apparently also heard about said blog and confirmed he was getting a ribbing in work for being the new Lionel Messi.
So enough said on that, obvious to say that I was looking forward to seeing Gareth Delve in action once more, especially since an injury kept him on the sidelines when I watched them away at West End in September.
Cambrian & Clydach showed why they play their football at a level higher than their Gwent counterparts as they took the lead early on from the foot of their No.4 who latched on to a corner kick that fell loose inside the box.
Within five minutes of the opening goal, Clydach doubled their advantage through their No.8 who had a second chance at goal when the ball rebounded back to him after a fumbled save by the Llanwern goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, mid-way through the first half it looked like the game was quickly slipping away from Llanwern as they fell three goals behind after a superbly taken goal from Cambrian’s No.12 who hit a peach of an effort from 40 yards out which left the goalkeeper stood still on his goal line.
Cambrian rounded off a superb half with a fourth goal in the 40th minute that came by way of talented youngster Josh Maksimovic, who timed his run behind the Llanwern defence perfectly to slot the ball calmly past the Llanwern goalkeeper to give his side a 4-0 lead going into the half time interval.
I braved the storms during the interval and made my way over to the coffee hut for a quick caffeine pick me up and got speaking to the guys inside. With what limited mobile reception we had, we worked out that something like two Welsh League games out of a potential fixture list of thirty five or so games actually made it.
The second half started much in the same fashion with Cambrian dominating proceedings. The Rhondda outfit took a 5-0 lead ten minutes into the second half when their No.7 picked up the ball thirty yards out from goal and had enough time on his hands to pick his spot in the top corner of the goal to score a truly sublime fifth for his side.
When the fifth unanswered goal hit the back of the net, the Llanwern bench made a couple of tactical changes, pushing our cult hero Gareth Delve onto the left wing and giving some fresh legs a chance to play in monsoon conditions.
With no pressure on them, Llanwern pushed forward in numbers down the flanks and funnily enough they managed to be by far the better side in the last half an hour.
The Gwent side went close twice in three minutes. The first was a fingertip stop from a testing shot on the edge of the box, the second a header from a corner kick that their No.15 headed just inches wide of the far post.
This lack of pressure allowed our cult hero the chance to flex his skills and he did just that. Despite the fact that Llanwern were well beaten on the day, the fact I got to see Gareth Delve nutmegging players from the league above was always going to be appreciated.
We were never going to see a performance like that legendary performance against Ynysddu Welfare in the Summer, but I can confirm that his cult status among groundhoppers is still definitely worth it.
Llanwern scored their first consolation goal in the 68th minute when their No.15 found himself unmarked at a corner kick and headed home past the helpless Cambrian goalkeeper.
The Newport side’s second and final goal came in the 75th minute when a piece of footballing brilliance from Gareth Delve lead to the ball falling to the feet of Llanwern’s No.7 who clinically slotted the ball home into the far right corner of the net.
All in all, despite the offensive weather this was a great afternoon of football between two sides who play a lovely style of passing football, sides who both find themselves near the wrong end of the table and both would be forgiven for adopting a longer, more direct form of passing in pursuit of crucial league points.