Trefelin Boys and Girls Club progressed to the Welsh Football League Cup final for the first time in their history with a penalty shoot-out win over Pontypridd Town following a pulsating and dramatic semi-final at Aberaman Park.
Jordan Edwards scored the winning penalty after misses by Pontypridd Town’s Bobby Briers and Matthew Hibbs helped Trefelin to a 4-2 shoot-out win. Edwards had minutes earlier forced penalties with a dramatic equaliser in the final minute of extra-time. Richie Ryan’s side will now play current Welsh League Cup holders and Division One leaders Llanelli Town in the final.
Division Three leaders Trefelin started the game unbeaten in Welsh League competitions this season and their cup run had seen them knock out higher league opponents Aberdare Town, Ammanford and STM Sports. Pontypridd Town are themselves enjoying a good season, competing for promotion to Division One, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the Welsh Cup. However, in recent weeks the Dragons’ league form has stuttered and there still loomed the spectre of that Welsh Cup defeat to South Wales Alliance outfit Penydarren BGC. The Division Two outfit are also without key players David Burnett, Jamal Easter and top scorer Luke Gullick through injury.
It wasn’t surprising then that Trefelin started the more composed outfit on a heavy pitch, building through midfield and using the attacking runs of their wing-backs. They struck first blood in the eighteenth minute, Jordan Edwards’ lofted through ball releasing Shaun Best, who showed composure to slide the ball past the advancing Pontypridd goalkeeper Callum Meyer and into the net.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though, with Dan Hooper in midfield pulling the strings, Ponty’s longer game with the runs of Andrew Smith and Adam Johns keeping the Trefelin defence honest meant the first half had an end to end feel about it, although both sides weren’t able to create too many clear cut chances. An in-swinging hooper corner from the right put Trefelin keeper Matthew Stanton into a spot of bother, Scott Hillman tried his luck with a long-range volley; while a Jamie Latham free-kick that narrowly cleared the bar were the closest the match came to a second first-half goal. Trefelin were good value for their half-time lead though.
The start of the second-half saw Pontypridd take more control of proceedings as they searched for an equaliser. Hillman, again from distance, forced Stanton into his first save and shortly after Matthew Hibbs and Aiden Lewis combined, the latter curling his effort just wide of the far post. The pressure paid off for Pontypridd midway through the second-half when Bobby Briers’s angled piledriver found the top corner from the edge of the penalty area after Trefelin failed to clear a corner.
The final twenty minutes of normal time saw lots of endeavour from both sides but little in the way of chances. With two minutes remaining it looked like Ponty had won it, Matthew Hibbs ending a burst through midfield with an unstoppable left foot drive from 25 yards. Trefelin found a way back though and after a scramble inside the penalty area, captain Ceri Williams prodded home from eight yards in the second minute of injury time.
There was still more drama to come. Dan Hooper – so often the talisman for Pontypridd – restored The Dragons’ lead midway through the second-period of extra time: hooking home at the far post after a long throw had been flicked in his direction. However, the Pontypridd celebrations were denied in the final minute of extra time when Edwards arrived at the back post to steer the ball past Meyer and take the game to penalties.
First three penalties were all converted and saw Trefelin lead 2-1. Briers was the first to miss, firing over the bar, then Trefelin’s Michael Waters hit the bar before Pontypridd’s Hibbs handed the advantage back to the Division Three side with an even worse miss. Oliver Bowen extended the shoot-out lead to 3-1 and Pontypridd’s Lewis kept the tie alive with Ponty’s fourth penalty. That gave Edwards his moment to win the tie and he did so, calmly slotting the ball into the opposite corner of Meyer’s dive.