On Saturday, 16 March, four teams that encompass the eclectic beauty of the FAW Trophy will head to Newtown's Latham Park as the two semi-finals take place on what is sure to be an exciting afternoon of cup football.
FC Cymru - Matchday Magazine
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The opening match between Cefn Albion and STM Sports kicks-off at 1pm. “It's always good to have a cup run,” explained Cefn Albion manager Steve Davies to FAW.cymru. “We've managed to get some information on STM Sports and we know that they are a really good outfit, but then so are we, and it's all about what happens on the day. We like to get the ball down and play football, and the way we play is definitely our main strength.”
A 5-3 win over Corwen in the quarter-final booked Cefn Albion's place in the last four, and Davies is expecting his team to be well supported at Latham Park. “Reaching the semi-final of the competition is brilliant for the club and the community as a whole,” he added. “We get fantastic support from the village, and we will have plenty of support to add to the occasion.”
STM Sports are pushing for promotion to Tier 2 in the Welsh League, and reached the semi-final with a 2-1 win over Penydarren BGC, a team that made headlines of their own in the JD Welsh Cup last season. However, manager Dale Gardiner is not taking their opponents for granted. “We are definitely not even speaking of the final yet I can assure you,” he explained. “I’ve been checking their results since the draw was made, but form goes out of the window in a cup semi-final at any level.
“We really are a small club run by very few people, who all work tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the players get what they need come matchday,” Gardiner added. “If anyone deserves a good day out it’s these people, who myself and the players are really grateful for. These days don’t come along very often for clubs like us, so we are all aiming to make a great day of it.”
The action continues at 4.30pm when Pontardawe Town take on Bodedern Athletic, and for competition debutants Pontardawe, to be within one game of the final is a fitting reward for the performances that have taken them this far. “We’ve had a tough run of games to get here with a few difficult away ties,” explained manager Andrew Stokes. “But the win over Swansea University in the 5thround would be the stand-out game for me so far. We were 2-1 down at half-time and put in an outstanding second half performance to win 3-2.”
With an exciting young squad at his disposal to complement the experienced players in his ranks, Stokes is sure his team will approach the match in the right frame of mind. “It might sound a bit cliché but there’s a great togetherness in the squad,” he added. “We’ve found out a few bits and pieces about Bodedern, but we will focus on ourselves, and we will adapt to the game as required. We will prepare for the match as we always do. It will be about us, and there won’t be any excuses.”
Meanwhile, Bodedern Athletic manager Ricky Williams will remind his players of their achievements in the quarter-final when they defeated Llangefni Town. “I couldn’t have been prouder of the lads after the Llangefni game,” he explained. “Not many people gave us a chance of winning there as they are a very good team, but we stuck to our game plan and believed in ourselves. Ryan Taylor came up with the all important goal to send us through, but it was a real team effort.”
But while Williams and his players are looking forward to testing themselves in the semi-final, the fixture is a deserved reward for the volunteers that support them in everything they do “We are all really looking forward to the occasion,” he added. “We’ve worked hard to get to this stage and we’ll make sure we give it our all. It also means everything to our hard-working committee who have been through some rough times over the last few years, and I’m hoping we can reward our loyal supporters with a place in the final.”