Neath 1 Rhyl 1
Welsh Cup round three – Nov 6, 2010 (aet – Rhyl won 7-6 on penalties)
In seasons gone by Rhyl being classed as underdogs against Neath would have been regarded a travesty but on this particular occasion the South Walians did enter a dramatic third round Welsh Cup tie as favourites.
The Lilywhites had been demoted from the Welsh Premier the previous campaign and were rebuilding in the Cymru Alliance, while the Eagles were full-time and pushing for European qualification in the WPL – a target they were to later achieve.
Greg Strong’s side may have travelled to The Gnoll as longshots, but proved they are still a Welsh Premier club in all but status by dumping Andrew Dyer’s men out of the national knockout.
The tie finished 1-1 after extra time and the Lilies won a penalty shoot-out 7-6.
Former Bolton Wanderers and Carlisle United keeper Chris Howarth saved three spot-kicks for the visitors and Neath twice missed penalties which would have clinched the game before Brad Maylett converted the decider.
“Our players were outstanding and in all fairness I felt we should have won in normal time or extra time,” said Rhyl chief Strong after the game.
Neath took a first half lead when former Rhyl star Lee Trundle slipped a neat pass to Craig Hughes, who fired into the bottom corner from just inside the box
After the break Howarth produced fine diving saves to prevent Ian Hillier and Trundle making it 2-0.
Chris Williams, Michael Pritchard and Paul Mooney all went close for the North Walians before on 88 minutes a Shaun Dowling free kick was hoisted to the edge of the box, player-boss Strong flicked on and found Mark Cadwallader, whose looping effort over keeper Craig Morris dropped into the net to force the added half hour.
And the visitors dominated the extra-time period, Williams twice denied by Morris, although a piece of Trundle genius almost delivered the winner, but Howarth smothered superbly at the striker’s feet.
In the shoot-out, it stood 3-3 after Howarth pushed Paul Fowler’s effort onto the post, then Morris kept out Pritchard’s kick.
When Russell Courtney slammed against the bar for the visitors, Chris Jones stepped up knowing a successful penalty would put Neath through, but Howarth guessed the right way and made his umpteenth great stop of the day.
It went to 6-6, then Rhyl’s Australian prospect Nicolas Le Rouco missed, Morris with a fine save. Morris was next with a chance to win it for Neath, but he fired straight at his opposite number.
Maylett coolly converted for 7-6 and Liam Hancock’s poor effort missed for Neath, meaning Rhyl could celebrate a famous victory.
Brad Maylett had been victim of a giant-killing at the hands of Rhyl back in 2003-04 when he was in the Swansea City side which lost 2-0 at Belle Vue in the FAW Premier Cup semi-finals. Lee Trundle was in the same Swansea team, so this was a second time he had been haunted by his old club.