Neath 1 (Trundle 80)
Bangor City 2 (Garside 11 & 23)
Welsh Premier League – April 25, 2011
Two days after an epic win at Port Talbot, Bangor did something even more sensational by taking three points away to high-flying full-timers Neath.
The 2-1 result ensured the Citizens would win the 2010/11 Welsh Premier title, provided they could defeat The New Saints at home in their final game of the league game of the campaign the following weekend.
The record book will show that on April 25, 2011, it was a brace of goals from midfielder Craig Garside which won the day at The Gnoll, but this was very much a team effort and owed something to the noisy travelling support which sang and chanted the blues to victory.
After James Brewerton had headed over in the fifth minute, Chris Jones went agonisingly close with a right footed curler which just swerved to the left of goal.
But on 11 minutes City had the lead when Garside headed over Lee Idzi from Michael Johnston’s delivery and watched as the ball bounced into the empty net.
Neath were stung into action and danger man Lee Trundle fired at goal but Paul Smith, calm and composed all afternoon, held confidently.
Dave Morley was enjoying a fine afternoon and his ball up to Les Davies was flicked on to Nicky Ward on the left, but he dragged his shot across goal.
Bangor worked another opening but Idzi somehow saved from Alan Bull at point blank range after Darren Moss’ long throw upset the Eagles defence.
On 23 minutes Bangor doubled the lead. A long throw from Moss flicked on by Morley caused confusion in the Neath box and allowed Garside to notch his second with a close range finish.
Minutes later Garside could have completed his hat-trick as Morley crossed from the right but he sent his glancing header just wide.
Neath responded with a fine run and shot from their Chris Jones (also wearing seven) but he narrowly missed.
The home side pressed. Moss and Chris Roberts had to be alert to deny Trundle who shot off target under pressure.
Half-time: Neath 0 Bangor City 2
The second half was a less fluent affair but the question was – could City take the three points?
It was a pretty uneventful opening quarter hour as both sides struggled to build from the back. City won a corner but could not force a clear chance and on the hour the first change of the afternoon as Chad Bond replaced Kevin Cooper for Neath.
Five minutes later Trundle lashed a fierce drive at goal but Smith was on hand to collect. Neath won a corner on the right but left-back Paul Cochlin headed wide. By now the heat and impact of two games in three days was evident and City replaced Bull with Mark Smyth.
Moments later a double change for Neath as Stephen Pockett and Andy Hill came on for Matty Collins and Craig Hughes. And City joined the changes as Sion Edwards came on for Chris Jones.
With 13 minutes left on the clock Neath’s Chris Jones ran infield from the right to shoot on target but Smith saved.
City fans were in a noisy mood but when Trundle span and fired home from the edge of the box to cut the lead in half there was some nervous silence.
Not for too long though! On 85, Michael Jukes came on for Davies and put in a good shift for the nine minutes which were actually played.
Bangor managed to play out the majority of the four minutes of added time in the Neath half with Edwards and fellow sub Jukes in the thick of the action.
The final whistle set off noisy celebrations on and off the pitch as Bangor had done enough to set up that final match showdown with TNS at Farrar Road.
Neath: Lee Idzi, Ian Hiller, Paul Cochlin, Kristian O’Leary, Matthew Rees, Matty Collins (Chad Bond 70), Chris Jones, Paul Fowler, Craig Hughes (Andrew Hill 70), Lee Trundle, Kevin Cooper (Stephen Pockett 61).
Bangor City: Paul Smith, Darren Moss, Chris Roberts, Dave Morley, James Brewerton, Michael Johnston, Chris Jones (Sion Edwards 70), Craig Garside, Les Davies (Michael Jukes 85), Nicky Ward, Alan Bull (Mark Smyth 67).