My last game before lockdown – what was yours?

Bangor 1876 (blue) and Llysfaen in combat. Picture: Matt Johnson

Although the Cymru Premier League has seen action this season and some Cymru North clubs have played a round of the Nathaniel MG Cup, the vast majority of North Wales teams have not kicked a competitive ball.

It all ended in the predictable tears and frustration when the FAW recently scrapped the 2020-21 season for men’s leagues from tier 3-5 and women’s football at tier 2.

The reason? The dreaded coronavirus.

The weekend of March 7 and 8, 2020, brought an end to most league and cup football across North Wales. Almost 12 months on and the picture is no clearer for the non-playing tiers, although tiers 1 and 2 are scheduled to restart next month.

So apart from tiers 1 and the Nathaniel MG Cup, what was the last competitive game you saw live?

Mine took place on March 7, 342 days ago…..Llysfaen v Bangor 1876 in the North Wales Coast Junior Cup quarter-finals.

It promised to be an interesting tie, with Llysfaen unbeaten all season, while 1876 were running away with the Gwynedd League title and looking on course to lift five trophies.

Here is what happened…….

Llysfaen 0
Bangor 1876 5 (J Jones OG 39, D Thomas 58, A Jones OG 71, Petrie pen 85, S Lock 88)
NWCFA Junior Cup quarter-final

An alternative view of the action from Matt Johnson

It was fitting that Shaun Lock delivered the goal of the game with two minutes left as his long-throws had done so much to set 1876 up for victory in this Junior Cup quarter-final at the Banana Pitch.

Lock’s fierce left-foot drive put the seal on what was eventually a comfortable win for the visitors over their Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Division One hosts.

Llysfaen, previously undefeated across 18 matches in all competitions this term, held the emphatic Gwynedd League leaders to 0-0 up until the 39th minute and were still right in the contest at half time.

However, Bangor’s ceaseless attacking in the second half brought them four more goals, while the home team’s frustrations got the better of them, leading to two sendings off and several yellow cards.

In front of a large crowd, this last-eight tie played in difficult, windy conditions on a sloping surface saw Cameron Barry blast an early effort over for 1876 before Jamie Petrie was denied by a great reaction save from Cain Folly.

Llysfaen’s best attempt of the half was an audacious long range strike from captain Alec Jones which did not miss the target by much.

With home centre halves Alec Jones and Jay Jones in awesome form, the travellers did not make the breakthrough until six minutes from the interval.

Lock launched a long throw into the box and Dafydd Thomas appeared to get the final touch as the ball hit the net, but it was later confirmed as a Jay Jones own goal.

Half time: Llysfaen 0 Bangor 1876 1

Soon after the restart, Ben Owen went close with a header before Petrie’s shot from eight yards was brilliantly kept out by Folly.

Competitive action as Bangor 1876 aim to break down the wing. Picture: Dafydd Hughes

A second goal was needed for the visitors and it came on 58 minutes when another mighty touchline release from Lock was missed by Folly and Thomas headed into an empty net.

Barry had a header cleared off the line before in the 71st minute another Lock missile into the box was back-headed in over his own keeper by the unfortunate Alec Jones.

Joshua Williams was not far away with a header for Llysfaen, but tensions were ever rising in this very physical encounter and in the 83rd minute the home team’s Jordan Russell was dismissed for a second yellow card.

Moments later the hosts were down to nine when top-scorer Sean Sheridan received his marching orders.

A minute after Nathan Russell pushed over Dylan Williams in the area and a penalty was awarded which Petrie dispatched for his 43rd goal this season.

Two minutes from time, Williams laid the ball back nicely for Lock, who hit an unstoppable 20-yarder to make it 5-0.

Bangor 1876 were due to host Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Premier Division side Llansannan in the semis, with Menai Bridge Tigers entertaining Abergele in the other last-four clash, but coronavirus led to the rest of the competition being cancelled.

Llysfaen will not remember the biggest game in their history with much affection, but it was pleasing to see a bumper crowd of about 300 at the Bananabeu, boosted by the ever-present in their droves 1876 travelling faithful.

Llysfaen: Cain Folly, Joshua Smith (Callum Ellis 78), Joshua Williams, Henry Taylor, Jay Jones, Alec Jones, Sean Sheridan, Nathan Russell, Reece Kearney (Shaun Davies 70), Jordan Russell, Jake Reynolds.

Bangor 1876: Leon Jones, Harry Jones, Shaun Lock, Luke Steele, Cian Williams, Jamie Petrie (Leon Owens 88), Cameron Barry (Dylan Summers-Jones 74), Dylan Williams, Dafydd Thomas, Jamie Thomas, Ben Owen (Jos Lloyd-Jones 79).

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