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Welsh Cup classics: Was this the most thrilling final ever?

Bangor City celebrate their remarkable 2008 Welsh Cup final win over Llanelli. Picture: Citizens Choice website, Mike Smith

Bangor City 4 Llanelli 2 (aet)
Welsh Cup Final – May 4, 2008

I’ve watched more than 30 Welsh Cup finals in my lifetime and none were exciting as the 2007-08 showpiece at Latham Park, Newtown, between Bangor and Llanelli.

This was City’s final fixture in Neville Powell’s first season as manager – and what a way to round it off.

Llanelli were aiming for a double having already secured their first-ever Welsh Premier League title, finishing 30 points ahead of the Citizens in fifth place.

The South Wales Reds were certainly favourites, but they had never won the Welsh Cup before and this was their first final.

Bangor, by contrast, had lifted the cup five times in their history and this was a 14th final for them.

The game was packed with incident and got off to a dramatic start.

Just four minutes in, City defender Peter Hoy rushed in, foot high, on Craig Jones who fell to the ground. Referee Phil Southall rightly showed Hoy a red card.

Far from being put off Bangor charged forward. Ashley Stott seemed sure to score but the bulky Duncan Roberts saved well.

Llanelli responded with a Matthew Jones’ header which Paul Smith palmed over before Stott went close twice in close succession. Twice Roberts saved well, once with his feet, but the big stopper could only watch as Christian Seargeant lashed wide after his second save.

Bangor did manage to take the lead on 20 minutes.

A long range shot from Lee Webber seemed to be speeding wide when Stott had the presence of mind to glance the ball back across Roberts and inside the keeper’s left post.

Close to half time, Llanelli’s Rhys Griffiths slid in Craig Jones whose side footer was parried by Smith to Mark Pritchard, who was unable to convert.

Half-time: Bangor 1 Llanelli 0

Two goals early in the second half from the Reds turned the tables.

On 48 minutes Dave Swanick put the ball into his own net under pressure from Griffiths, who was struggling to get on the end of a cross from the right.

Soon after a deep diagonal delivery from Chris Holloway found Griffiths on the left and his low finish found the net from a tight angle.

Llanelli were in the lead and appeared well on top.

City needed a change of luck to turn the tide and it came on 66 minutes when Llanelli defender Wyn Thomas was dismissed for foul and abusive language. 10 versus 10 now.

On 73 minutes the all-blues made a double change – Webber and Mike Walsh making way for Kieran Killackey and Karl Noon.

Bangor were now more of an attacking force, and two minutes into the four added at the end of normal time, a break through.

Keeper Paul Smith’s long clearance sailed into the Llanelli box, opposite number Roberts opted to punch when he might have caught, and the ball ran to Seargeant whose inch perfect chip hit the back of the net to the relief and delight of the huge Bangor following.

In the mayhem that followed, a pitch invasion held the game up, but once order was restored there were no further goals.

90 minutes: Bangor 2 Llanelli 2

Bangor seized the initiative in the first half of extra time and when Stott ran into the left-hand side of the box, Lee Phillips lunged and brought down the Citizens striker.

Up stepped captain Marc Limbert who sent Roberts the wrong way and put City ahead 3-2 on 97 minutes.

Two minutes later it was all over. Killackey played in Noon who rushed at Roberts. The big goalkeeper blasted the ball against Noon – and could only watch as it rolled into his net!

Llanelli’s misery was complete when Griffiths was sent off for a callous elbow in the face of Martin Beattie.

Teams

Bangor: Paul Smith, Dave Swanick, Peter Hoy, Michael Johnston, Lee Webber, Christian Seargeant, Marc Limbert, Michael Walsh, Les Davies, Ashley Stott, Sion Edwards. Subs: Karl Noon, Martin Beattie, Kieran Killackey

Llanelli: Duncan Roberts, Lee Phillips, Andy Legg, Andrew Mumford, Antonio Corbisiero, Wyn Thomas, Matthew Jones, Chris Holloway, Rhys Griffiths, Craig Jones, Mark Pritchard. Subs: Stephen Evans, Mark Jones, Paul Wanless.

Attendance: 1,510.

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