Welsh Cup: Saltney Town keyed up for biggest match in their history this Saturday

Saltney players celebrate their famous victory on penalties over Penrhyncoch in the last round of the Welsh Cup. Picture: LEE PAUL DOUGLAS

For Welsh Cup followers who love a David versus Goliath tie where a major underdog is looking to upset a big gun, there is only one game to watch this weekend.

Saltney Town, the lowest-ranked and sole tier three side left in the 2021-22 competition, will welcome Cymru Premier giants Aberystwyth Town to Sandy Lane.

The Ardal North West hosts have battled their way through five rounds to reach the last 16 of Wales’ premier knockout for the first time.

Qualifying round one: Ruabon Rovers (away) 7-2 (Tommy Booth 3, Addie Callaghan 2, Carl Pleavin, Corey Mason)
Qualifying round two: Brickfield Rangers (a) 3-0 (Tommy Booth 2, Cody Silvester)
Round one: CPD Y Felinheli (home) 3-2 (Jake Johnson 2, Jordan O’Brien)
Round two: Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant (a) 5-3 (Tommy Booth, Ryan McCleary 2, Jordan O’Brien, Steve Chiocchi)
Round three: Penrhyncoch (h) 1-1 (Ryan McCleary) – won 4-2 on penalties

The Bordermen comfortably saw off tier 5 North East Wales Championship outfit Ruabon Rovers 7-2 in the first qualifying round, then came back-to-back wins over fellow Ardal North West teams Brickfield Rangers and Y Felinheli in the next two stages.

The giant-killing started in round two, as Town pulled off a superb 5-3 victory at tier 2 Cymru North hopefuls Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant.

Things got even better in the last round as Saltney knocked out another Cymru North entrant, Penrhyncoch, on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Ryan McCleary

Tommy Booth is Town’s top-scorer in the cup with six goals so far, but the man in the deadliest form is Ryan McCleary, who nabbed a late leveller against Penrhyn and struck twice at Llanrhaeadr.

Aberystwyth are used to David v Goliath tests

Next for Andy Dutton’s part-Flintshire/part-Cheshire based side is the biggest test in their history – Aberystwyth Town.

Although the blacks and greens are struggling in the Cymru Premier, they did win 1-0 at Cefn Druids in midweek.

The Park Avenue side have won the Welsh Cup once – back in 1900 – but have reached the final three times in the last 11 competitions.

In 2009, they lost 2-0 to Bangor City, were beaten 3-2 by The New Saints in 2014 and went down 4-1 to Connah’s Quay Nomads in 2018.

Holywell (stripes) and Aberystwyth clash in the 2013-14 Welsh Cup semi-finals

Aber have also been involved in three famous Welsh Cup clashes with the same North Wales underdogs in recent years.

Back in 2013-14, they came up against the first tier 3 side ever to make the national cup semi-finals in Johnny Haseldin’s Holywell Town.

Despite going behind, Aber recovered to win 3-1.

The following season the two were paired together again – this time in the last 16.

Still in tier 3, Holywell were unlucky to lose 3-2 on penalties at Halkyn Road after holding the WPL visitors to 0-0 for 120 minutes.

Uncannily, they were drawn against each other once more in 2016-17 in round three. On this occasion, with the Wellmen now in the tier 2 Cymru Alliance, Aber won slightly more comfortably 2-0.

So Aberystwyth know all about how difficult tier 3 teams can be in the Welsh Cup.

Saturday’s match programme cover

TEAM NEWS – SALTNEY

Ste Chiocchi returns to the squad having missed the last two games in the league through suspension.

Scott Beach misses out on Saturday due to a ban. having picked up a red card in the last round.

Corey Mason and Addie Callaghan unfortunately have not recovered from injury in time, but manager Andy Dutton still has the luxury of picking from 19 fit and available players.

CHAIRMAN – DARREN MEREDITH

Saltney chairman Darren Meredith (left) and manager Andy Dutton embrace after the Penrhyncoch triumph. Picture: LEE PAUL DOUGLAS

“We’re all looking forward to the game and the chance to go up against an established WPL side.

“As recently as 2014 they were playing in Europe, and although they are battling at the foot of the table they picked up a vital 3 points at Cefn Druids this week and were good value for it.

“Our boys will respect the standard they play at, but we’ll leave everything on the pitch regardless, as we would against any side. I think we’re in for a hell of a game.”

JD WELSH CUP FOURTH ROUND TIES (all Saturday 2.30 pm unless stated)

Buckley Town v Taffs Well
Carmarthen Town v The New Saints
Colwyn Bay v Cardiff Met University (Saturday, 12.45 pm – live S4C, Facebook, YouTube)
Flint Town United v Connah’s Quay Nomads (Friday, 7.45 pm)
Haverfordwest County v Bala Town
Penybont v Caernarfon Town
Saltney Town v Aberystwyth Town
Swansea University v Guilsfield

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