Monday night saw the fourth round draw of this season’s JD Welsh Cup take place live on S4C Heno, and the programme delivered some blockbuster draws for the last 16.
The ties include a much anticipated clash between Gwynedd giants Caernarfon Town and JD Welsh Premier champions The New Saints, a David v Goliath meeting of Llanrhaeadr and Bangor City, and an all South Wales tie between Pontypridd and the lowest ranked team left in the competition, South Wales Alliance League side Penydarren.
The full draw can be found here, with all ties to be played between the 26th and 28th January .
Most Welsh Premier League sides have avoided a familiar fixture against a fellow super-12 team, with the exception of Cardiff Met versus Aberystwyth.
Whilst not an ideal draw for the Students, Met will be confident facing Aberystwyth thanks to their unbeaten home record, which they will look to keep intact by the cup clash in late January.
Aberystwyth will be equally up for the cup if their current form is anything to go by, as they emphatically beat cup holders Bala Town 4-0 to reach this stage of the competition.
New Flint Town manager Niall McGuinness will be thankful to have got his first win at the club boxed off in round three against Buckley, but his reward is a big challenge as the Silkmen welcome Newtown AFC to Cae Y Castell.
Nice to land a home tie. Looking forward to that one @FlintTownFC ⚫️⚪️⚫️⚪️
— Niall McGuinness (@MIGGO14) December 4, 2017
On paper the Robins should prove too much for Flint, but the Castle ground’s authentic feel, coupled with a grass pitch, could prove a leveller for the Flintshire club who will be eyeing a place in the quarter finals.
The draw of the round is of course Caernarfon Town hosting The New Saints, as the sides are both currently top of their respective Huws Gray Alliance and JD Welsh Premier leagues.
The New Saints won’t be pleased with having to travel to The Oval, a difficult place for away teams to play shown by recent Cofi cup victories at home against Rhyl FC and Barry Town.
Caernarfon enjoyed a scintillating cup run to the semi finals last season, but a win over TNS to reach the quarter finals will write a new chapter in their vibrant cup history. Can the Cofis do it? Fans across Wales will be eager to find out.
After overcoming a late scare against Cwmamman United, Bangor City have been handed a trip to mid-wales to face Llanrhaeadr FC. But Bangor’s visit won’t be so daunting to Llanrhaeadr after the club’s shock third round success against Cefn Druids, who they defeated 3-2.
Connah’s Quay Nomads put on a typically professional performance to beat Cwmbran Celtic, and their fourth round draw will be seen as a good result as they face Porthmadog FC with a home advantage.
The match will be a North East vs North West clash, and Porthmadog manager Craig Papirnyk will have his side, who are recognised force in the second tier, well up for this one at the Deeside stadium.
The lowest-ranked match of the last 16 could well end up one attracting a high level of interest. Pontypridd are challenging for promotion into the Welsh Football League, and a currently second in Division Two.
Last 16 Welsh Cup Draw
— Pontypridd Town AFC (@PontyTownAFC) December 4, 2017
Reaching the quarter finals could give the club some much needed momentum to defeat title rivals Caldicot Town and boost their profile as an up and coming outfit to fans from outside the Welsh Football League.
But standing in their way is perhaps the hottest team in Welsh football at the moment, Penydarren FC. The fifth-tier side are on an unbelievable run, having defeated Huws Gray Alliance side Llandudno Junction FC 4-0 in the third round to continue an unbeaten season in all competitions.
A win for either Pontypridd or Penydarren would be an unprecedented level of achievement for either sides, but as the underdogs Penydarren may benefit from neutral support from football fans who want their cup fairytale to continue.
Although Penydarren deservedly took the headlines, Ruthin Town are on a cup run of equally epic proportions as they have gone past the third round of the JD Welsh Cup for the first time since 1923. They beat Prestatyn Town at the Motion Finance stadium to meet another Welsh Premier side in Iwan Williams’ Llandudno.
The tie will be played at Llandudno, edging the tie in the home side’s favour, but plucky Ruthin cannot be underestimated after a high level performance against Prestatyn. Their threat has already been recognised by manager Williams, who tweeted his relief at a home draw.
— Iwan Williams (@iwanwilliams9) December 4, 2017
Last season Airbus v Carmarthen was an all Welsh Premier clash, but now it is cross-tier after Airbus’ relegation to the Huws Gray Alliance.
Ironically, it is now Airbus who are on the up as they’re challenging for promotion back to the top flight, whilst Carmarthen have won just one JD Welsh Premier game so far and look in serious trouble.
The encounter is likely to be cagey as Carmarthen’s rigid style will be pressed against Airbus’ creativity from the likes of Damase Kiwanda.
Featured Image: NCM Media