JD WELSH CUP ROUND THREE
Saltney Town 1 (McCleary 90)
Penrhyncoch 1 (Gittins 21)
(Saltney won 4-3 on penalties)
All hail Saltney Town – the last tier 3 side left in this season’s Welsh Cup after today’s thrilling penalties victory over higher-league Penrhyncoch at Sandy Lane.
Andy Dutton’s Ardal North West team followed up their giant-killing of the last round at Llanrhaeadr by eliminating the Roosters of Cymru North.
Town looked to be heading out of the competition when they trailed 1-0 entering the 90th minute, but up stepped the prolific Ryan McCleary to equalise from a free kick to force a shoot-out.
With Dinas Powys, Monmouth Town and Penrhiwceiber Rangers all exiting the cup today, the North Wales Bordermen are now the sole third-tier club in the last 16.
Saltney took the game to the visitors in the opening 20 minutes, pressing and setting a wild pace, with top-scorer Tommy Booth in particular torturing the away defence.
A few early chances went begging with the final ball just lacking, and Penrhyncoch’s excellent keeper Leigh Jenkins on hand.
A series of corners looked destined to see Saltney open the scoring, but the Roosters survived.
Shaun Tinsley then provided a heart stopping moment as he brilliantly beat two men before his shot was pushed onto the post by Jenkins and cleared.
Against the run of play, straight from that attack a long ball could only be half-cleared and Steffan Gittins lashed a stunning left-foot half volley that rifled into the top corner.
Town went back on the attack, but Pen remained strong and calm at the back.
Half-time: Saltney 0 Penrhyncoch 1
Saltney started the second half well, Jenkins again keeping them at bay, before from the hour the visitors looked to be taking over. Twice in quick succession the Bordermen needed Josh Cooke in goal to keep them in it.
A tactical change saw Town switch formation and they rallied. They managed to get the ball in the net only for an offside to be correctly called as Booth tucked away well.
With Pen running down the clock in the corner, an incident between Saltney’s Scott Beach and Niall Coleridge of the visitors saw both see red.
All looked lost for the underdogs entering the 90th minute. They had one more chance from a free kick following a foul on the marauding Ste Chiocchi.
Jord O’Brien seemed set to take it, but everyone was fooled as talisman McCleary bent the ball into the top corner to make it 1-1 and create huge scenes of ecstasy.
So it was down to penalties and Saltney scored their first three through Jake Gibbons, Addie Callaghan and Chiocchi to put then 3-2 up after three each.
Tinsley’s effort was well saved, and Pen then converted to bring it level.
Writing his own scripts, it would be McCleary who ultimately scored the winning penalty, as Penrhyncoch’s captain Owain James fired his effort against the bar and bedlam erupted.
Saltney chairman Darren Meredith said: “An unbelievable day. We took on a very good side and had them on the back-foot for a large portion of the game.
“To win in that manner tells you once again about these boys, the management and the club. We work hard, and work together. This is an amazing result for us, and highly deserved. Last 16 of the Welsh Cup sounds good!”
James Rutter (Jake Gibbons 90)