Newtown AFC vs Bangor City, Dafabet Welsh Premier League, 24/10/15, Latham Park, Match 15
There seems to be something about Bangor City and myself. Whenever I plan to go and watch them, something always attempts to either stop me from doing so, or just makes it difficult. The last time I went to watch Bangor City was earlier this season, and I actually ended up watching Colwyn Bay instead, as I found there to be no parking near the ground, and by the time I had found some, the game had already kicked off and I was a good 15 minute walk away. I will however be attempting to go and watch a Bangor City game later in the season, but next time I’ll be taking the train.
Today was to be no different. Google Maps had told me that Newtown was an hour drive down the A483 from Wrexham, and at 12:45, I set off from my home, I stopped for petrol at the local Sainsbury’s garage, but was on the A483 before 1pm. Traffic was fine, if not a little slow moving due to the rain, but there were no major issues. That was until I reached the edge of Newtown, where all of a sudden the traffic ground to a halt and I ended up crawling along at a snail’s pace. A special mention must go out to the BMW driver that attempted to undertake everyone using a slip road, by the Morrison’s supermarket, however no-one let him in, as they’d all seen the maneuver he had pulled, and he ended up back where he had started, behind me. Crawling through Newtown I began to look for signs for Newtown AFC, but could see none, and it was through blind luck that I pulled into a side street, to have a look at my Maps app, and instead found myself looking at the only sign for Latham Park that I had seen in Newtown. I followed the sign, and found myself being directed into a car-park by a friendly steward. I had however arrived late for the match, but more about that later. Once I parked the car, I headed to the turnstile, and paid £7 for entry, before paying £2 for a programme. On first sight the 3g Artificial Turf looked like it had taken the brunt of the rain, and I began to look forward to the prospect of a good passing match.
Newtown Association Football Club (AFC) were formed in 1875, as Newtown White Stars and merged with Newtown Excelsior to form the current club. They were original founders of the League of Wales, now the Dafabet Welsh Premier League, in 1992. Newtown are one of only three teams that can claim to have played every season in the Welsh Premier League since its beginnings, along with Aberystwyth Town, and today’s opponents Bangor City. In 2014, Newtown AFC became the second club in the Welsh Premier League to convert to a 3G pitch, the first to convert being TNS. Newtown have had a rich history in Welsh Football with the club qualifying for the UEFA Cup/Europa League on three occasions, with the club qualifying in 1996–97, 1998–99 and 2015–16. Currently Newtown AFC sit in 5th position in the Welsh Premier League, and in their last match they lost to Bala Town.
In 10th place in the league sit today’s visitors Bangor City. As I’ve already stated Bangor City are one of three teams that can claim to have played in every season of the Welsh Premier League, as they too were reluctant founder members of the League of Wales. Bangor City were founded in 1876 as Bangor FC, and have been founder members of a number of leagues, namely the North Wales Coast League, the Welsh National League, the North Wales Combination, the Welsh League (North), the Northern Premier League, the Alliance Premier League and the League of Wales. Bangor City also have the honour of being able to claim that they played in the inaugural seasons of the Welsh Cup and the UEFA Europa League. Bangor City have won the Welsh Premier League on three separate occasions, in 1993–94, 1994–95 and 2010–11.
Latham Park has been home to Newtown AFC since August 1951, the ground has undergone a number of improvements over the years, with the most notable being the installation of a 3G pitch in 2014. Personally I think 3G pitches are a great idea for clubs of this size, as it provides the club a way of generating money on non-match, as they are able to rent the pitch out, and it also means that the club is able to continue playing during the winter, as games are less likely to be called off due to issues with the surface. As much as I love watching a game on an absolute mud-bath of a pitch, it doesn’t do any good for the home team, as they have to deal with the repercussions of the poor surface, and it must cause plenty of groundsmen sleepless nights.
Latham Park itself holds 5,000 people, with the ground being well presented and well looked after. On walking through the turnstiles I found myself stood behind the dugouts, in between two small stands. To my right was a small covered seat, which looked to be a new build. On my left was another small covered stand, which stood in the space between the dugouts. Above this stand is a TV gantry where the camera for Sgorio was located. Along the rest of the touchline was hard standing. Behind the left hand goal is a small uncovered stand, in which the Bangor City fans had gathered for the first half. Opposite the dugouts, is the Main Stand side, which is a rather odd affair, on this side stands the Social Club, the Refreshment Hut and two seated stands. Next to the Social Club stands a two storey chalet style executive suite, next along is the refreshment hut, and following this is the Old Main Stand, which holds a good amount of seats, but the only ones in use today were the ones in the back of the stand, as the roof doesn’t extend the whole way. Finally we have the 400 seat modern cantilever stand, which looks out of sorts with the rest of the ground, this stand houses the changing rooms, and the players emerge from the back of the stand, have to walk down the steps in the stand and through a gate in the fence to reach the pitch. Finally behind the right hand goal, nearest to the main exit, is a stretch of hard standing, which houses a couple of benches on the grass.
As I’ve said, I arrived late to the game, and whilst walking through the turnstile the attendant informed me that Bangor City had already taken the lead with their goal coming in the 1st minute, from the boot of Damien Allen. (If I find a YouTube video of this goal, I’ll leave a link here, alternatively if you have a video of this goal, send me a link so I can see it!)
For a team in 10th place in the league Bangor City were playing with confidence and an attacking swagger which was serving them well in the first half. Bangor City dominated possession wise, and had plenty of chances but on a number of occasions they fluffed their chances and Newtown clung on.
After the disappointment of missing the first goal of the game, I was glad when Bangor City scored again, as I was now guaranteed to have seen at least one of the goals in the game. Bangor’s second goal came in the 36th minute, as the ball was worked into the box, and Porya Ahmadi, the Bangor number 9, slid the ball home from the edge of the six yard box.
Half Time: Newtown AFC 0-2 Bangor City (Allen 1, Ahmadi 36)
At half time, I headed to the Refreshment Hut, there was a slight queue for the food, and it was in this time that I noticed that the refreshment hut housed vending machines, which would have been a good idea for anyone just wanting to get a quick drink, instead of standing in a queue. The queue moved quickly, with the ladies at the counter serving quickly and efficiently, and in under 5 minutes, I was stood outside with a Cheeseburger and a bottle of Diet Coke. I paid £4.50 for the two, and although the Cheeseburger was slightly pricey at £3, it was a good burger, the only problem being that the cheese hadn’t been given time to melt.
Bangor City started the second half as they had finished it, with them showing signs of good attacking play, as they placed the Newtown defence under a heap of pressure. In the first 15 minutes of the second half, Bangor had a penalty shout turned down, as Ahmadi went down in the box, the ref judged that no foul had occurred, and there weren’t many complaints from the Bangor players. Only minutes later ex-Shrewsbury Town youth keeper Dave Jones had to be alert to deny Edwards.
Newtown made the first switch of the game in the 65th minute as their number 3 Stef Edwards came off for their number 22 Jack Hughes.
Adam Cummins netted Bangor City’s third goal of the game in the 68th minute, as he powered a header home. Sion Edwards whipped the ball into the box from a free kick on the right wing, and Cummins rose highest to nod the ball past the Newtown keeper.
Bangor made their first change of the game as their goalscorer Porya Ahmadi came off for number 10 Christian Langos, in the 71st minute.
Langos almost made an instant impact, as he broke into the box and fired a shot at goal, which was only kept out by the strong right hand of Dave Jones in the Newtown goal, the ball went out for a corner, but Newtown managed to scramble the ball clear.
Newtown made their second change in the 81st minute, as their number 24 Craig Harris came on in place of their number 15 Jamie Price.
Bangor made another change in the 85th minute, as the impressive Sion Edwards came off to be replaced by number 24, Joe Williams.
The referee had had a good game, as he had been fair to both sides, not making any mistakes, and making the correct calls when needed. To be fair to him, he hadn’t produced a card in the game. In the 88th minute he did have a big call to make, as the Newtown keeper Dave Jones sprinted out of his box to attempt to clear the ball. However Christian Langos, got their first, and he would have carried the ball around the keeper, if he hadn’t been fouled by the onrushing Jones. My first instinct was that Jones should have been shown the red card, as he appeared to be the last man. The ref initially pulled the red card out of his pocket, but after consulting with his linesman, he decided to only book the keeper, who should really buy a lottery ticket as he was lucky to escape with the yellow.
Bangor City made their third and final change in the 90th minute, as their number 17, Shaun Cavanagh came on to replace the number 23 Ashley Young. Shaun didn’t have much time on the pitch, as the final whistle blew minutes after he came on.
Final Score: Newtown AFC 0-3 Bangor City (Allen 1, Ahmadi 36, Cummins 68)
As soon as the final whistle blew, I headed towards the exit, as I walked out I overheard a number of Newtown fans commenting that this had been their worst home performance of the season, and I can only hope that things get better for them, as Newtown is a good club. Latham Park is a good ground, and one which is full of character and charm.
Bangor City should look to build off of this victory, and I hope by the next time I see them play, that they are further up the league, as if they play like they did today, then they will threaten the European qualification places.
The referee and his linesmen were good, as they explained decisions, and gave clear instructions to the players. Neither side could really complain about the officials, in fact I think Newtown should count themselves lucky that they had the referee that they did. Dave Jones, the Newtown keeper, is a very lucky man, as on another day, with another referee he may have seen a red card for the tackle on Christian Langos.
Hat-tricks seen so far: 2 (Really? Come on!)
Next week’s plan: No game for Halloween, but I will be back for Stockport County vs Chorley, 7/11/15, National League North
Money spent: £13.50
Thanks for reading.
For all the match stats: http://www.welshpremier.co.uk/match/m/69508/squad/