Bangor City 5-2 The New Saints
The Bangor University Stadium
Bangor City FC Scorers: Brayden Shaw 5’, 75’, Gary Taylor-Fletcher 16’, 61’, Anderson Cayola 81’
The New Saints’ Scorers: Connell Rawlinson 14’, Jamie Mullan 24’
Well, if every game this season sets the same standard of excitement and intrigue as this one then we’re in for one incredible season indeed!
A very positive start by the Citizens saw them press The New Saints high up the pitch and put the reigning champions under plenty of early pressure. Adrian Cieslewicz and Jamie Mullan were key in helping the visitors advance up the pitch and, had a couple of lay-offs been a bit more accurate, Connor Roberts might have had some work to do early-on.
It was Bangor City, however, who drew first blood, as Anderson Cayola – who looked very lively throughout the game – and Gary Taylor-Fletcher combined well down the right flank before the former found space to send a cross in for Brayden Shaw, who was sprinting into the box and leapt well to power a header past a helpless Paul Harrison to give Bangor a lead after five minutes.
The New Saints were soon back on level terms as they started to find a foothold in the game, and the home side gave away a free-kick which Alex Darlington took and Connell Rawlinson prodded home despite Roberts’ best efforts in goal and it as back to 1-1.
With the pendulum swinging back into Bangor’s favour, Taylor-Fletcher then headed Bangor ahead from a Shaw cross to make it 2-1, before Cayola went close after cutting in from the right flank – a very positive start for the home side, with the fans getting very excited indeed, before Mullan equalised for TNS after 24 minutes following great work by Cieslewicz.
The parity lasted through to halftime, however in the second half it was The New Saints who started the brightest and looked very dangerous, but it was Bangor’s Player-Assistant Manager who made the decisive impact after 61 minutes by putting The Citizens in front for the third time, heading home from Anthony Miley’s flick to make it 3-2 with half an hour to go.
A five-goal thriller would have certainly been an apt description for the game, but nobody within The Bangor University Stadium believed another goal wasn’t coming, however we doubt anyone would have predicted it would come in such style, as Brayden Shaw sent an absolute rocket inside Harrison’s near-post from thirty years out to make it 4-2 after 75 minutes and give The Citizens something to hold onto going into the closing stages.
It wasn’t over there though, as Cayola – who had a brilliant JDWPL debut for The Citizens – earned and confidently converted a penalty to make it 5-2 after 80 minutes and Bangor’s fans were deliriously happy as fulltime approached.
Bala Town 3-0 Newtown AFC
Bala Town FC Scorers: Chris Venables 29’, Evan Harwood 31’, Mike Hayes 67’
A mouth-watering clash between two of the teams who arguably finished last season the strongest, JD Welsh Cup Winners Bala Town welcomed The Robins – who went 12 games unbeaten at the end of the 16/17 WPL regular season – to Maes Tegid.
The Lakesiders seemed to settle into the fixture quicker than their opponents, with The Robins’ own Twitter feed noting that the visitors’ goal was under siege early-on as Chris Venables, Evan Harwood and Mike Hayes each had decent chances for Colin Caton’s men in the game.
It was the duo of Venables and Harwood who put The Lakesiders 2-0 up too, as Jordan Evans fired a ball into the former who beat the offside trap and finished comfortably to give Bala a 1-0 lead, before Harwood scored what The Lakesiders labelled a ‘FIFA-esque’ free-kick to double Bala’s lead.
Luke Boundford and Nick Rushton combined well to see the latter come close to scoring with chances of his own before the halftime interval, but it was Ashley Morris who palmed away Rushton’s headers and the score stayed at 2-0 going into halftime.
Boundford and Evans respectively threatened to create dangerous opportunities for Newtown and Bala early in the second half, however it was the visitors who were under pressure again soon afterwards and Hayes made that pressure count as he netted to make it 3-0 with some 20 minutes left to play, and that’s the way it stayed as Bala saw out a convincing opening night victory.
Prestatyn Town 0-4 Connah’s Quay Nomads
Connah’s Quay Scorer: Jay Owen 26’, Callum Morris 45’, Mike Wilde 60’, Matty Williams 87’
This fixture in last season’s JD Welsh Cup Quarter Final was an absolutely epic battle, with only penalties separating the two outfits after 120 minutes of gripping football, so you can imagine the excitement that infected the region ahead of this somewhat of a local derby.
Proving to be just as competitive as that cup clash, John Danby and Carl Jones were very busy in their respective goals as The Seasiders and The Nomads both did their utmost to find the break through, however they faltered somewhat at the final hurdle.
Callum Morris had the first half-chance for the visitors, after a Danby free-kick found its way towards the edge of Prestatyn’s box, but the midfielder couldn’t control the ball before taking his shot.
Mike Pearson made a few crucial interceptions and blocks to keep Prestatyn quiet, but even so it didn’t stop The Seasiders giving The Nomads’ typically sturdy defence a few problems.
It was the visitors who got the opener, however, as Jay Owen slotted a deflected Ryan Wignall cross into the bottom left corner; a well-taken goal to give the visitors a hard-earned lead.
Noah Edwards got a shot away soon afterwards to keep the visitors on their toes, but Danby saved well and Mike Wilde had two more chances in two minutes which went begging for The Nomads, but Morris struck on the stroke of halftime to double the lead of Andy Morrison’s men.
The pace and competitiveness of the game seemed to increase further in the second half, with Prestatyn in particular looking more dangerous, but it was Mike Wilde for The Nomads who scored the next goal as Connah’s Quay went 3-0 up after an hour, with Wignall again involved in the goal as his cross set up Wilde.
Prestatyn fought hard to try and get some sort of consolation goal, but The Nomads struck again before fulltime as Matty Williams reacted quickest following a scramble in the box and it was 4-0 to Connah’s Quay.