Llysfaen FC’s epic cup win suggests the old Bananabeu magic may still be alive

Alec Jones (in the net) celebrates Llysfaen’s winner against Gwalchmai in the Welsh Cup. Picture: IAN ASHTON

Llysfaen went a long way to proving they are not just a flash in the pan with last Friday’s 2-1 Welsh Cup upset victory over Gwalchmai at Colwyn Bay.

Emlyn Robert Jones’ side produced the sort of result which suggested their breakthrough season of 2019-20 will not be a one-off.

I say season, but it was not really that at all. It was seven months of great football brought to a sudden end by the evil coronavirus when so much more could have been achieved.

Llysfaen kicked their final ball for many months on March 7, 2020.

Ironically, that day brought their only defeat of the campaign – a 5-0 home loss to a Bangor 1876 outfit probably on a different level to everyone else in and around tier 4 and 5 at that time.

Otherwise, Llysfaen had been magnificent all season.

The Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League side went undefeated in Division One and finished runners-up by the slightest of margins on the points-per-game method.

They progressed unbeaten in 18 matches in all competitions before losing what turned out to be their final game against Bangor 1876 in the NWCFA Junior Cup.

Llysfaen were the last team in senior North Wales football to lose an undefeated record in 2019-20.

Prior to that they had achieved very little as a football club until they ignited under the leadership of Emlyn Robert Jones.

The premature end to the 2019-20 season came at the totally wrong time for the Bananabeu club.

The heroes of 2019-20

While no balls were being kicked their star striker Sean Sheridan was signed by Llanfairfechan Town.

Then came the total wipeout of the 2020-21 season for all leagues below tier 1 because of Covid.

Clubs were left totally in limbo and facing uncertain futures – Llysfaen among them.

What was being built was in danger of falling apart – to be fair this was the case for many clubs – because competitive football had been taken away from us.

Would what Llysfaen achieved in 2019-20 become just part of history and could they return to obscurity?

The pleasing answer looks to be no.

Not only has goal machine Sheridan returned, manager Jones has also gathered together numerous new faces who are shaping really well, such as Brandon Luffman, Connor Morris and James Roberts.

The only problem at the moment is a catalogue of early-season injuries, but hopefully what is available can keep the pot boiling.

After winning their opening game in the new North Wales Coast East Division One against Rhos United, Llysfaen suffered a first league loss in a long time when Llandudno Amateurs won 2-1 at the Banana Field on July 6.

How would this affect Emlyn’s charges?

The big test was just around the corner, in the shape of Gwalchmai in the Welsh Cup.

The tier 4 Anglesey side are always a strong outfit, although they are bedding in many new players and a fresh manager in Liam Ewing.

Nonetheless, they would have started favourites against a Llysfaen team taking part in their first-ever Welsh Cup tie.

Lose this one, and it could really test Llysfaen’s resolve, but the tier 5 hopefuls produced an heroic performance at Llanelian Road which revived memories of the old magic of 2019-20.

The result is something to build on, although this Friday brings a bigger hurdle when they visit tier 3 Llanrwst United in the FAW Welsh Trophy.

Regardless of the result at Gwydir Park, Llysfaen have already shown this term they still retain many of their assets of two seasons ago and hopefully this will lead them to more success in NWCE Division One.

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