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February 8th: Ton Pentre 2 v Flexys Cefn Druids
Welsh Cup 4th Round

Football matches don't get any better than the Welsh Cup Fourth Round tie between Ton Pentre and Flexsys Cefn Druids. In a match that pitted the Welsh League against the Welsh Premier, the spectators at Ynys Park were given some spectacular entertainment. The Rhondda Bulldogs left it late before they made sure of their progress to the Quarter Finals of the prestigious Welsh Cup with a goal three minutes into injury time.

Ton Pentre started the game very confidently and it showed when Carl Thomas hit the back of the net with a header in the first minute. However, it was ruled out by the referee for a handball by the player, nevertheless it sent shivers down the spines of the Cefn Druids players who quickly realised Ton Pentre were to be no push overs.

Ceri Harding took the ball round his marker, wide on the left, which enabled the player to provide a cross into the box after 11 minutes had passed. Thomas got a shot in but Stuart McIntosh just managed to tip the ball round his goal post to deny Ton the lead. The visitors from North Wales then had a chance to attack with Joe Desormeaux running the ball up the wing. He sent a precision ball into the box where Ricky Jones headed goalwards but over the crossbar.

Ton rebounded straight back into attack and club captain Andrew Hughes rode two challenges from Cefn Druids defenders for an opportunity to shoot. His strike from outside the box was a strong effort but McIntosh stood sturdy and collected the ball. The Rhondda Bulldogs deserved a goal and it finally came in the 27th minute with a near post header from Ton defender Ian Davies. It was the result of a corner taken by Harding that Alex Lawless did well to win.

The home side didn't sit back on the goal as they went in search of another. Mark Evans had a shot that took an influential deflection that nearly outwitted McIntosh in the Cefn Druids goals. And Harding also came close just before half-time as Ton broke down the Welsh Premier team's defence once again, but he was unable to make full contact with the ball to chip it over the keeper. Therefore, the Bulldogs went in at half-time 1-0 up.

After the half-time team talks Ton Pentre came out in the second half looking to play much like they did in the first period, while Flexsys Cefn Druids looked to take the game to the home side. And this provided a second half that was more exciting than the first.

Lawless, Ton Pentre's under 18 Welsh international starlet, ran circles around his opponents to put Harding in on goal. His shot meticulously edged over the cross bar. Another chance to increase their lead went begging in the 58th minute when a freekick was awarded on the edge of the Cefn Druids area when Hughes was obstructed. Thomas fired the free kick at the keeper who spilled the ball into open space, but Harding couldn't get to the ball quick enough to hit the back of the net and McIntosh recovered his composure to smother the ball. The action then went up the other end of the pitch where Desormeaux had a clear run on goal that called John Howe into action. With extreme confidence Howe halted the player in his stride with a fine save.

Cefn Druids continued to pressurise the Ton defence when Dave Wimmah sent a dangerous high looping ball into the box, but Howe leaped as though he had springs on the bottom of his boots for a superb take. Howe swiftly distributed the ball for a Ton counter attack that won the Rhondda Bulldogs a corner. As the ball was swung into the box McIntosh completely missed a catch that allowed Jason Roberts to head towards the goal. His effort went wide for a goal kick. McIntosh hit an awful goal kick that went straight to Harding. As the keeper was forced to run towards the player to narrow the gap Harding attempted a lob shot that painstakingly went over the cross bar and gave Cefn Druids a lucky escape in the 66th minute. Six minutes later Howe's goal kick was hit long into the visitors half towards Harding wide on the right. He noticed McIntosh off his line once again and attempted another lob ball. This time Harding was dead on target but the keeper somehow managed to scramble his way back and fingertip the ball off the line and out for a corner.

Moments later it was Howe who had to pull off a dramatically superb save when Craig Wilkerson struck a shot that looked a certain goal. Howe, who was having a superb game, held tight to the ball after a splendid stretching dive.

With around five minutes of the match left a Cefn Druids corner was sent into the Ton box. Howe missed the ball but Lawless was standing on the line and cleared but conceded another corner. This time Cefn Druids equalised through Matthew Dobbs from five yards out after 85 minutes of play.

With extra time looming Ton Pentre's heads did not drop, as the Rhondda Bulldogs with total integrity remained concentrated and stuck to their task.

Ton's show of character paid off as a defensive blunder by Cefn Druids defenders Paul Dowdridge and Aled Rowlands saw the ball role into the path of the Bulldog's captain. Hughes found himself in a one on one situation with McIntosh and kept his nerve to fire Ton Pentre into the Quarter Finals of the Welsh Cup after three minutes of injury time.

The Rhondda Bulldogs are now the only non-Welsh Premier team left in the competition. Aberystwyth, Bangor City, Barry Town, Connah's Quay Nomads, Cwmbran Town, Oswestry Town and Rhyl are the teams that also progressed and Ton Pentre should fear none of them as they proved with the dispatchment of Flexsys Cefn Druids.

The Futureglaze sponsored team can now look forward to the next round of the cup and details of the draw can be found on the AiGN run website, tonpentreafc.com. After cup glory its back to Welsh League action as Ton Pentre travel to Cardiff Corries on Saturday 15 February with a 2.15pm kick off.

Ton Pentre: John Howe; Lee Tapper; Jason Roberts; Ian Davies; Mike Jones; Andrew Hughes; Mark Evans; Alex Lawless; Carl Thomas; Neil Davies; Ceri Harding.

Subs not used: Tom Billings; Kevin Richards & Richard Johnson.

Match report by Rob Dowling.


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