Vs: Connah's Quay Nomads (R3)
Match Type: Welsh Cup (A)
Date: 02-12-2017 14:30
Cwmbran Celtic put up a brave rearguard action at the Deeside Stadium before succumbing to the superior skills of their Welsh Premier opponents. The hosts are currently 4th in the WPL so history was created as they were the highest ranked club Celtic have ever faced in their long history. Manager Lee Challenger brought Lewis Watkins back in goal and introduced Luke Jones into the heart of the defence. Lloyd Kinsella also returned after injury. The starting line up was ostensibly 3:5:2 but from the outset it was apparent that the two full backs were going to be hard pressed to get forward. The Nomads quickly forced a corner from which Ryan Wignall played a short ball to Jay Owen whose cross was met by Kai Edwards at the far post who brought a brilliant save from Watkins from which the ball was scrambled away. Celtic won a free kick and Simon Prangley’s measured ball into the box found Rhys Williams unmarked. He got the faintest of touches and the ball went straight into the arms of keeper Danby. A firm contact and it would have been a goal. From another corner, taken by Matty Owen, Michael Pearson strode in at the far post to head over. Wignall cut in from the left and drove in a shot which Watkins saved. That was Wignall’s last contribution as he went off injured to be replaced on the right wing by John Oyenuga.
The home side’s tactic going forward was to hug the touchlines with Jake Phillips particularly prominent on the right flank and it was a cross from Phillips which found skipper Wilde rising above Andrew Larcombe to head into the net for what looked like the opening goal. However the linesman flagged and the referee gave a free kick, supposedly for an elbow challenge which earned Wilde a yellow card which brought an angry reaction from Nomads manager Andy Morrison. From the stands it looked a goal and the yellow card seemed harsh notwithstanding that the photo of the incident does show Wilde's arm raised in the challenge. . The Nomads were well in control but their habit of playing the ball across the field rather than trying to probe down the middle suited Celtic who were able to re-group to cope with the next attack. Nevertheless the hosts still made chances. Jay Owen’s shot was blocked by Richard Crees, Sean Smith’s diving header was saved by Watkins and Michael Bakare shot over the bar. Having stood firm, Celtic were very pleased to go in at the interval still on level terms.
Half time: Connahs Quay 0 Celtic 0
The Nomads carried on where they left off with Matty Owen to the fore. His shot was cleared by Rhys Williams and then in the 49th minute a corner from Owen found Bakare with sufficient time to drive the ball into the net to put his side ahead. Bakare was then on hand to put in a cross which Williams sliced towards his own net but Watkins scrambled across to make a great save to push the ball for a corner from which player coach Danny Harrison headed wide. Celtic brought on Owen Cook for Lloyd Kinsella. A fierce shot from Matty Owen brought a good save by Watkins who beat the ball away with aplomb rather than try and catch it. Jay Owen shot over the bar. Another rasping shot from Matty Owen brought another great save from Watkins and from the ensuing cross Wilde headed wide and then Watkins saved from Jay Owen.
On 72 minutes Celtic at last managed to string a few passes together. Cook, Bull and Young worked the ball forward to Ham who cut in on the left to shoot and it took an unorthodox save with his feet by Danby to deny Celtic a goal. Callum Wakeham replaced Larcombe as Celtic pressed for the equaliser. A free kick by Prangley found Kesh Patel but his soft header was no problem for Danby. Just one goal down, Celtic were still in the game but that all changed with two late Nomads goals in quick succession. In the 81st minute Matty Owen pounced on a clearance to drive the ball home with a superb strike and then on 83 minutes Celtic cleared a corner but the speedy Oyenuga picked the ball up and stormed though on the right to smash the ball into the net. Iolo Jones replaced James Young. Substitute Mathias Bakare hit two shots wide and the last chance fell to Josh Bull whose shot was blocked.
Full time: Connahs Quay 3 Celtic 0
Although the stats showed the home side well on top Celtic can be proud of their dogged performance. Lewis Watkins had an outstanding game in goal. Kesh Patel held his own on the right flank and skipper Rhys Williams effectively marshalled his troops from the centre of defence. Celtic were heavily out-numbered in midfield but Prangley and Young manfully chased and harried. Up front it was very tough for Ham and Bull who had no service to be able to demonstrate their skills. Man of the match was Luke Jones, who in his first full game back in 3 months put in a sterling display in defence.
STATS: Corners: Connahs Quay 11 Celtic 1; Shots: Connahs Quay 13 on target, 7 off target; Celtic 4 shots on target, 0 off target.
Substitutes: Owen Cook for Lloyd Kinsella (55), Callum Wakeham for Andrew Larcombe (74) Iolo Jones for James Young (85).
Yellow cards: James Young, Luke Jones & Richard Crees.
Ref watch: Tom Williams (Wrexham) had a good game.