Match of the Day – Phoenix stun Sports in an Intermediate Cup thriller

Prestatyn Sports (red) and Penmaenmawr Phoenix go head-to-head at The Meadows. Picture: RAY HIBBS

NORTH WALES COAST FA INTERMEDIATE CUP ROUND ONE – DECEMBER 4

Prestatyn Sports 3 (M Jones 25, Griffiths 73 pen, Jacovelli 102)
Penmaenmawr Phoenix 5 (S Jones 26, B Hughes 36, 99 & 110; Hunt 118)

AFTER EXTRA TIME (90 MINS 2-2)

Young hat-trick hero Ben Hughes guided Phoenix to one of their finest wins in some time as they knocked North Wales Coast East Premier leaders Sports out of the Intermediate Cup.

After going down 2-0 at The Meadows in the league fixture back in August, Pen knew they would have their work cut out to progress against the high flyers.

Conditions played a part in the opening 20 minutes with heavy rain and wind coming from all directions and it was Sports who took the lead on 24 with a neat finish from Michael Jones.

It did not take long for the visitors to level. A blistering run from midfield by Stevie Jones forced his side a corner. And the in-form Jones made no mistake when the ball fell to him from the flag-kick.

The equaliser spurred Pen on and they looked to press for a second which came just 10 minutes later when 17-year-old Ben Hughes rifled home from 18 yards.

Phoenix hero Ben Hughes (10 – yellow and blue) goes for goal. Picture: RAY HIBBS

Half-time: Sports 1 Phoenix 2

The weather worsened in the second half and both teams struggled to retain possession.

There were chances at either end but goalkeepers Sion Williams and Dion Jones stood firm.

The fourth goal of the match would come on 73 minutes. Ian Griffiths was adjudged to have been fouled in the area and the prolific striker equalised from the spot.

90 minutes: 2-2

It seemed impossible but the weather got even worse as the tie headed into extra time. The centre of the pitch was now a near mud bath and both teams tried to get some joy down the flanks.

In the 96th minute Alex Brownhill looked certain to restore the Phoenix lead but his effort from close range was dragged wide.

Youngster Hughes was causing real issues behind the hosts back-line and his hard work was rewarded once again on 99 minutes, a calm finish into the far corner of the net putting Pen back in front.

Phoenix battled to take a lead into the break but this was squashed by a fine strike from Antonio Jacovelli on 102 minutes.

Half-time – extra time: 3-3

Great action as Sports (red) defend their goal. Picture: RAY HIBBS

Both teams were showing signs of exhaustion as the game headed into its final 10 minutes before a potential shoot out.

However, Hughes became the star of the show, completing a hat-trick.

Prestatyn threw everything they could at the Phoenix back-line to no avail. With two minutes left Sports committed one too many players forward which allowed captain Matthew Hunt to break forward after winning the ball in his own half.

You will see a ball in the goal, but that is not the match-ball. The match ball has been crossed into the box and Sports are aiming to put into the net alongside its friend. Picture: RAY HIBBS

Hunt played the ball wide to Hughes and continued his run into the box where the hat-trick hero turned provider and laid a perfect pass into his skipper’s path. Hunt then fired his side into the last 16.

Phoenix manager Martyn Jones said: “It’s a tough game down here on the best of days but we knew we were really up against it today and I can’t describe how proud of those lads I am.

“Ben has broken into the first team in the last few weeks after really impressing in our reserve side and today it looked as though he had been a first team regular for years; he was a real handful and fully deserved his hat-trick.

“I could say good things about all the lads, they really went to the trenches for the win. Stevie (Jones) in midfield was unplayable and after a lengthy time out from competitive football we are really starting to see what he has to offer now, a truly great talent.”

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