The Welsh Cup returns this weekend with the second round proper fixtures to be played on Saturday afternoon.
Although the Welsh Premier League clubs do not enter the competition until the third round, there are still plenty of fixtures to look forward to. We take a look at every tie across the whole round and try to give you some context for each and every one.
Looking for a ‘cupset’?
The South Wales Alliance Premier League (SWAPL) boasts three teams in the second round, the only three teams from tier 5 left in the competition. All three sides have home ties, so the potential for a ‘cupset’ in at least one of these fixtures looms large.
Penydarren Boys & Girls Club host Welsh Football League (WFL) Divison Two (tier 3) side STM Sports; in Bridgend Pencoed Athletic will welcome Pontypridd Town (also of WFL2) to their ground Felindre Road. The other SWAPL side in the draw is Caerphilly Athletic, who face Cymru Alliance (tier 2) side Penrhyncoch at their Morgan Jones Park ground.
Caerphilly Athletic also represent the lowest ranked team left in the competition based on the current SWAPL table and have the biggest gap to bridge with three tiers difference between them and their opponents. If ‘The As’ were to overcome their visitors, a Caerphilly Athletic win would surely be the biggest shock of the round and would bring the ambitious club a historic moment as they have never before reached the third round.
In the Northern half of the draw the most promising prospect of an underdog victory is in Wrexham where Brickfield Rangers of Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division will play host to the Cymru Alliance’s Ruthin Town. This tier 3 v tier 2 clash is enhanced by the fact that Brickfield Rangers are flying and sit top of their division. While Ruthin Town are hardly struggling, their mid-table position means they look like the sort of club with prime ‘cupset’ candidacy.
Flint Town United (Cymru Alliance) have an awkward challenge when they make the short trip to Llay Welfare FC (Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division). Neither side are having distinguished league campaigns, so a decent cup run may represent their best chance of taking something out of the season.
The Local Affair
Speaking of short trips, no-one will make a shorter trip than Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division Saltney Town when the make the approximately four minute journey down the A5104 to Airbus UK Broughton (Cymru Alliance).
Anything can happen in a local derby when, according to football cliché, form goes out of the window. However Airbus, riding high in second place of the Cymru Alliance and challenging for a return to the Welsh Premier League, will certainly provide the sternest possible test for mid-table Saltney Town. Bigger upsets have occurred though.
On The Road
While there are some fairly localised ties in the round, a number of clubs will have to rack up serious mileage to fulfil their fixtures.
The aforementioned trip by Penrhyncoch from Ceredigion to Caerphilly at the base of the South Wales Valleys is by far the longest venture at a whopping 205 miles all-round. Elsewhere though WFL2 outfit Aberbargoed Buds will have to make a 189 mile round trip to play WFL1 leaders Haverfordwest County. If the Buds can pull off a shock there, it will certainly be worth every penny in mileage.
In the North the biggest effort will see FC Penley travel more than 130 miles in total to play Porthmadog. Taking into account FC Penly have conceded 27 goals in 7 league fixtures so far this season, while Portmadog have scored 31 goals in 10 league fixtures, as well as the two tier gap – it could be a long road home for the visitors.
The Glamour Ties
There are number of all-tier 2 ties in the second round, including Penybont hosting Monmouth Town and Briton Ferry Llansawel travelling down the M4 towards Monmouthshire to play Goytre FC; in the north Llandudno Junction host Denbigh Town. There are two games that really stand out – one each from the North and South draws.
In the northern draw the big all-Cymru Alliance tie is between Holywell Town and Guilsfield at Halkyn Road. The teams are currently 3rd and 4th in the table respectively and this makes the match the highest ranked in the second round.
In the south the standout tie involves Llanelli Town making the journey from West Wales to Torfaen in the far east of the South Wales valleys to play Cwmbran Celtic. The Reds are the favourites to clinch the WFL title and with Lee Trundle still in prolific form they are the star attraction in the south. However, Cwmbran Celtic are a side on a good run of form and in Chris Ham and Josh Bull they boast an attacking duo that can cause any team problems.
As for the rest…
There are seven ties still to cover. Of those, there are two all-tier 3 affairs; the other five see tier 2 clubs host lower league opposition.
The all-tier 3 encounters include one from each side of the draw. In the south Ammanford are home to Llantwit Major (both of WFL2) and in the north Buckley Town of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division welcome Llandudno Albion of the Welsh Alliance Division One.
The remaining fixtures involving tier 2 clubs at home are as follows:
In the southern half of the draw troubled WFL1 club Ton Pentre will be hoping they can put an end to the recent poor form with a win over WFL3 outfit Panteg (of the Pontypool area). Cwmamman United (WFL1) have the comfort of playing at home, but they face a tricky tie against Cardiff-based Bridgend Street (WF3) who reached the final of last season’s WFL Cup.
Three more ties to go, all in the northern draw. Cymru Alliance sides Caernarfon Town, Caersws and Gresford Athletic are all aiming to avoid home shocks against (respectively) Berriew, Llanrhaedr Ym Mochnant (Mid Wales League D1) and Conwy Borough (Welsh Alliance D1).
Welsh Cup Second Round Fixtures (in full)
Airbus UK Broughton v Saltney Town
Ammanford v Llantwit Major
Brickfield Rangers v Ruthin Town
Buckley Town v Llandudno Albion
Caernarfon Town v Berriew
Caerphilly Athletic v Penrhyncoch
Caersws v Llanrhaedr Ym Mochnant
Cwmamman United v Bridgend Street
Cwmbran Celtic v Llanelli Town
Goytre FC v Briton Ferry Llansawel
Gresford Athletic v Conwy Borough
Haverfordwest County v Aberbargoed Buds
Holywell Town v Guilsford
Llay Welfare v Flint Town United
Llandudno Junction v Denbigh Town
Pencoed Athletic v Pontypridd Town
Penybont v Monmouth Town
Penydarren BGC v STM Sports
Porthmadog v FC Penley
Ton Pentre v Panteg
(Featured Image: Steve Roberts)