MATCH REPORT | Under-19's Edged Out in Top-of-the-table Clash
By Kevin Owen
Young Citizens miss the opportunity to take control of Welsh Premier Development League North championship race
Bangor City's Under-19 Development side hosted WPDL North leaders The New Saints on Sunday afternoon with both sides tied on 27 points prior to kick off.
A lively opening saw both sides seeking to impose their authority on the match. Citizens striker Sam Jones' foray down the left flank was halted by an illegal challenge and Bangor were awarded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Guto Williams unexpectedly drove the set piece delivery low and hard into the danger zone but the visitors repelled the threat.
Play was then broken down by a series of fouls as TNS defender Bates became the first of seven yellow cards for the visitors with 14 minutes gone. Ten minutes later and the Citizens survived a scare as TNS penalty appeals were waved away by the match official and from the resulting melee Reynolds fired over when well placed.
Four minutes later and Reynolds had another opportunity for the visitors but City keeper Leon Jones saved well for the home side. Meanwhile at the other end, The Citizens responded with Jake Jones racing through only to be denied by his namesake in the TNS goal.
With 34 minutes played, a swift move down the right wing saw the visitors make inroads into the area and a goalbound effort was cleared off the line by the backtracking Cai Owen to save City's blushes. The next notable opportunity fell to Alex Boss as he latched onto a through ball from Jake Jones only to see a stinging shot saved by Jones after 37 minutes.
As the half wound to a close, a series of fouls saw Cai Owen caught late as he cleared the ball, before TNS left back James Parry earned himself a booking for a cynical challenge on Alex Boss near the halfway line on 41 minutes.
Half Time: Bangor City U19 0-0 The New Saints U19
City started the second period at a higher pace, and within 3 minutes of the restart Sam Jones was unlucky not to find the target with a right-footed half-volley that whistled past the TNS upright. Almost immediately, the visitors responded and City were thankful when the next attack struck the woodwork before they eventually managed to scramble clear to safety.
The young Citizens gradually increased the tempo as the Shropshire side seemed less and less assured. A flowing move down the left flank on 52 minutes saw Harry Hughes deliver a cross to the far post which found the head of Cai Owen but TNS keeper Jones was on hand to deny the Citizens. A minute later and midfielder Gethin Thomas waltzed past a succession of missed tackles to fire at goal only for Jones to make yet another save.
Coach Dave Cavanagh then made a tactical change on the hour as Guto Huws replaced Gruff Stead with Alex Boss switching from the right to the left flank. Three minutes later and the referee was once again dipping into his pocket as centre back Finley was yellow carded for tugging on Jake Jones' shirt.
The deadlock was eventually broken after 65 minutes. Against the run of play, a long ball from deep inside the TNS half found Reynolds in acres of space on the right and with City's defence desperately trying to make up lost ground, he rounded the advancing Leon Jones to finish from a tight angle. Bangor City U19 0-1 The New Saints U19
Bangor were handed an almost immediate lifeline as the impetuous Parry felled Cai Owen in front of the main stand leaving the referee no other option other than to show a second yellow and subsequent red card. With the visitors now on the backfoot, they reshuffled their pack as Maroy and Kaye replaced Jones and Finley.
With 74 minutes played, Alex Boss delivered a cross to the far post which found Guto Williams but the recent first team graduate could only find the side netting. Substitute Maroy was next to receive a yellow card as he needlessly committed an infringement in one of the visitors by now rare adventures into City territory.
Eight minutes remained on the clock when the energetic Cai Owen delivered a superb diagonal pass from the right touchline that found Guto Huws at the far post but the substitute couldn't quite get the touch that would have drawn City level. The ten men from Oswestry were finding themselves under increasing pressure as the clock wound down and City sought the elusive equaliser.
As the match entered additional time, Sam Jones was pulled down as he burst into the penalty area and City were awarded a stonewall penalty. The protestations of the away team saw a further two yellow cards shown to keeper Jones and midfielder Craven for dissent. The delay in proceedings didn't seem to help as the usually reliable Sam Jones struck his penalty straight down the middle and the TNS guardian produced the match-winning save.
Full Time: Bangor City U19 0-1 The New Saints U19
The defeat brings to an end an eight match winning streak in the league for the Citizens and takes TNS three points clear with a game in hand in the Welsh Premier Development League (North) table [click here].
Bangor City Under-19's will be in action next on Sunday, 7 January, when they visit third-placed Connah's Quay Nomads (2pm Kick Off).