North Wales football’s greatest stories No8: Steve Walters stars in one of Rhyl’s finest-ever wins

Rhyl FC hero Steve Walters (centre) with sons Jack and George

Steve Walters ranks among many Rhyl fans as one of the club’s finest-ever players.

The former Football League professional won five trophies in two seasons with the Lilywhites in the early 2000s, including the famous 2003-04 quadruple.

One of the midfielder’s greatest performances for John Hulse’s side came in the FAW Premier Cup semi-final against Swansea City on April 7, 2004.

The Lilies celebrated a sensational 2-0 victory at Belle Vue over the Third Division full-timers with Walters a stand-out player.

Hulse’s part-timers outgunned and outfought their full-strength opponents and dominated for long periods of the game.

Goalkeeper Paul Smith was called upon to make just one meaningful save as the visitors were rendered impotent by the hardworking and resilient home team who scored twice in 90 first-half seconds to settle the tie.

The Welsh Premier leaders were good value for that 2-0 interval lead, having carved out the better chances throughout the opening period.

Home defender Tim Edwards won everything in the air and as the game settled down, it was Walters rather than Swansea’s Roberto Martinez who was playing the most influential role.

From his 13th-minute cross, Andy Moran should have added to his 37 goals so far that season, but he anxiously glanced a free header wide of the post.

Almost immediately Moran had another chance this time firing straight at Roger Freestone and Swansea hit back through Christian Roberts whose hurried effort skidded across the face of the home goal.

But Rhyl finally made the breakthrough eight minutes before the interval after Marc Limbert was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Martinez.

Although the visitors defence looked to have cleared the free-kick, Walters drove the ball back into the crowded area, and defender Alan Tate only succeeded in finding his own net.

And the home side doubled their advantage within 90 seconds following excellent pressure which produced a corner.

Leon Hylton did well to block Edwards’ powerful header on the goal-line, but a half-clearance fell to Walters and this time he needed no assistance to place his shot just inside the upright.

Rhyl could have been forgiven for defending their lead but there was little evidence of that as the second half unfolded in similar fashion to the first.

The home side knocked the ball forward at every opportunity, relying on Moran’s skill and strength to hold it up until support arrived and the visitors could simply not win enough possession.

New Swans’ boss Kenny Jackett switched former Rhyl and Wrexham striker Lee Trundle, a less than conspicuous figure on his return to Belle Vue, to the left flank, in the hope he would find more space but the Lilies’ tenacity all around the pitch stifled the creativity out of their opponents.

So effective were the tactics that Smith was a virtual spectator in the second half and Moran went close to a third for the home side, his close range header from a corner being headed off the line by Martinez.

An amazing night for the Rhyl fans, with Steve Walters the main name on everyone’s lips after the tie.

RHYL: Smith; Atherton, Edwards, Brewerton, M Powell, Walters, G Powell, Limbert, Adamson, McGinn, Moran. Subs: Jackson, Hogg, Graves, Hoult, Billingsley.

SWANSEA CITY: Freestone; S Jones, Tate, O’Leary, Hylton (Rewbury 82), Maylett (Corbisiero 66), Martinez, Coates, Roberts, Connor, Trundle. Subs: Pritchard, Murphy, R Jones.

REFEREE: Brian Lawlor. ATT: 2,379

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