Welsh Cup classics No 15: Gwalchmai v Port Talbot 2010-11

Gwalchmai captain Gareth Allman (left) greets Port Talbot counterpart Liam McCreesh as referee Nick Pratt and his assistants look on. All pics: Dai Sinclair

Gwalchmai 1 (Tilbury)
Port Talbot 4 (Rose 2, 1 pen, Bowen, McCreesh)
Welsh Cup third round – November 6, 2010

Huge thanks to Dai Sinclair for his amazing photos from this historic occasion for CPD Gwalchmai

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the most prestigious match in Gwalchmai Football Club’s history.

The Anglesey village was buzzing after their heroes made it all the way to the third round of the Welsh Cup, where they secured a home tie against Port Talbot Town of the Welsh Premier League.

Gwalchmai players take the field with Port Talbot Town manager Mark Jones (light blue jacket) looking deep in thought

Despite the fact there were two leagues between the teams, and Port had reached the Welsh Cup final the previous season, Gwalch put up a commendable performance before eventually going down 4-1.

Paul Owen and Rob Hughes’ side had already caused a big upset in the national knockout by eliminating Buckley Town of the Cymru Alliance on penalties in the previous round.

In earlier stages, the islanders had dumped out Dyffryn Banw and Barmouth and Dyffryn, both by 4-0 scorelines.

The 2010-11 season was the very first that Gwalchmai had entered the Welsh Cup.

Port Talbot, managed by the charismatic Mark Jones, were understandably big favourites, and there was early joy for their all-time top WPL scorer Martin Rose, who netted by converting a neat header from Lloyd Grist’s cross.

But it was game on when Gwalchmai’s Paul Tilbury headed past highly-rated keeper Lee Kendall for the equaliser.

A Stephen Sinclair handball gave Rose a penalty chance he gratefully accepted and a superb Luke Bowen shot made it 3-1 at the break.

Goal! Gwalchmai’s Paul Tilbury’s header beats diving keeper Lee Kendall

Brave home defending kept the Steelmen at bay until Liam McCreesh grabbed a fourth. Gwalch did plenty of attacking themselves in the second half, but were unable to add to their total.

The hosts were unfortunately without main striker Corey Sinnott through injury for the tie, which was televised by S4C’s Sgorio programme. The islanders picked up a handy £1,500 in prize money.

Gwalchmai’s Gerallt Jones (left) puts a challenge in

In the previous round, Gwalchmai had achieved one of their greatest results when they beat Buckley on pens.

It was a tremendous giant-killing act by the Welsh Alliance hosts, who held their illustrious visitors to 2-2 after extra time and then prevailed 4-2 on spot-kicks at an emotion-charged Maes Meurig.

On 41 minutes Bucks grabbed the lead when Anthony Williams’ volley from close to halfway sailed in over keeper Kenny Hughes.

Gwalchmai came out all guns blazing for the second half and it was fully deserved when they pulled level on 65 minutes.

Keeper Hughes thumped the ball forward, the Buckley defence failed to clear and Gareth Allman pounced to control and fire past the keeper.

However, 10 minutes later Town were back in front when Williams scored again.

Gwalchmai managers Rob Hughes (left) and Paul Owen prepare to be interviewed by Sgorio

Gwalch’s Mark Griffith hit a screamer across an empty goal before on 84 minutes a free-kick from Hughes was latched upon by substitute Paul Tilbury, who knocked in the equaliser.

Who are Gwalchmai FC?

Formed in 1946, Gwalchmai recorded their first success in the 1951/52 season when they became Anglesey League Division 3b Champions.

They went on to win 10 more Anglesey League titles (1956/57, 58/59, 59/60, 78/79Division 3, 86/87, 89/90, 93/94, 97/98, 2000/01, 2007/08) before being promoted to the Gwynedd League in 2008/09.

In 2009/10 Gwalch had their finest season ever as they were crowned Gwynedd League treble winners, landing the league title, Gwynedd Cup and President’s Cup, as well as reaching the NWCFA Intermediate Cup and Barritt Cup finals.

The club elevated to the Welsh Alliance League in 2010/11 and held their own every season they competed at third-tier level, finishing seventh (2010/11), ninth (2011/12), eighth (2012/13), eighth (2013/14), seventh (2014/15) and ninth (2015/16).

They dropped out of football for the 2016/17 season due to a shortage of players, but returned as a Gwynedd League club in 2017/18, finishing fifth, and were runners-up in 2018/19, securing them promotion back to the Welsh Alliance as champions Menai Bridge Tigers were ineligible to go up due to ground criteria issues.

Gwalch were sixth in Welsh Alliance Division Two before this season’s shutdown due to coronavirus.

On top of their Anglesey League and Gwynedd League crowns, Gwalchmai have also won the NWCFA Junior Cup on five occasions (the joint third highest total in the history of the competition).

They have won 40 top honours in all (Anglesey League 11, Gwynedd League 1, Megan Cup 7, Elias Cup 6, NWCFA Junior Cup 5, Dargie Cup 4, JW Lees 2; SK Williams Challenge Shield 2; Gwynedd Premier Cup 1; Cwpan Gwynedd 1).

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