The New Saints completed the domestic double on Sunday as Anthony Limbrick's side claimed the JD Welsh Cup with a 3-2 win over Penybont, but the JD Cymru Premier champions did not have everything their own way at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The New Saints 3-2 Penybont
JD WELSH CUP FINAL
- Sunday, 1 May 2022
- Cardiff City Stadium
Penybont made an energetic start with Kai Whitmore setting the tone for his side in midfield. However, The New Saints soon found their usual rhythm and enjoyed the better periods of possession and chances in the opening exchanges. Jordan Williams tested goalkeeper Ashley Morris with a deflected effort before Morris was again called into action to deny striker Declan McManus. Former Cymru international Shaun MacDonald kept McManus relatively quiet in one of the most intriguing battles of the match, but the leading goalscorer remained a threat.
Ryan Brobbel twice cleared the crossbar for the league champions inside the opening 20 minutes before Daniel Davies also tried his luck from long-range, and while Anthony Limbrick's side looked in control, they remained frustrated as Penybont defended resolutely as the rain began to fall in the capital. Without the injured duo of Mael Davies and Lewis Harling, this was always going to be a tough ask for Penybont, and The New Saints took a deserved lead on 31 minutes when Williams beat Morris with a fine strike from the edge of the area.
Williams doubled the advantage a minute later as he slotted home a saved effort from Morris as the Saints took a commanding lead into half-time. Penybont manager Rhys Griffiths made a change ahead of the restart as Ryan Reynolds replaced Billy Borge together with a couple of tactical switches, but The New Saints were awarded a penalty on 59 minutes when Morris brought down McManus and the striker made no mistake from the spot. Ryan Astles was denied a fourth on 73 minutes when his header from a corner was disallowed for a foul as The New Saints continued to dominate.
However, there was plenty of drama to come as MacDonald gave the Penybont fans something to cheer on 84 minutes with a fine strike from the edge of the area. It initially appeared to be nothing more than a consolation goal, but Kane Owen forced goalkeeper Connor Roberts to save his free-kick on 90 minutes, and when Daniel Jefferies heading home from the resulting corner to make it 3-2 the comeback was very much on. However, despite Penybont's late heroics referee Robert Jenkins brought the match to a close and confirm that the trophy would be heading back to Park Hall.
The New Saints start a new era under Limbrick
Having claimed the JD Cymru Premier title with an impressive 80 points, Anthony Limbrick has now completed the domestic double as The New Saints claimed the JD Welsh Cup for the 8th time in their history. The side last completed the double in 2019 and since then they have surrendered their crown to Connah's Quay Nomads. However, this season has marked a return to the top for the Saints, and there is every reason to believe that this year can be the start of a new era of domestic dominance.
Penybont progress a positive in defeat
Manager Rhys Griffiths won the JD Welsh Cup as a player with Llanelli and has now guided Penybont to their first-ever final. Since Griffiths' appointment in the summer of 2016, the club have gained promotion to the JD Cymru Premier and have established their status in the domestic top-flight. While this defeat will hurt Griffiths and his side, it is another clear sign that the club are growing and more success will come on their current trajectory, while the character and spirt of their late comeback will leave Griffiths feeling very proud.
A stage set for a final
This was the first JD Welsh Cup Final to be held at the Cardiff City Stadium and the stage set the tone for the occasion. The decision will no doubt raise the profile of the competition further and both sides clearly embraced the opportunity to play at the home of the Cymru national team. A crowd of 2,417 added to the atmosphere and a new standard for the showpiece event appears to have been set in the capital this afternoon.
Rhys Griffiths, Penybont manager
“It was a tough slog for some of our players. Tactically we were probably too negative in the opening half but I wanted our players to conserve energy. The players were outstanding but I probably could have done better with the tactics. The spirit in this squad is immense and we've given them another tough game. I challenged the players to win the second half and we will go into the play-offs and try to enjoy it. We're proud to reach the final, but I'm determined, and we want to achieve more.”
Anthony Limbrick, The New Saints manager
“It means a lot. I knew this is a prestigious competition and we're really pleased that we've got the win today. The pitch was excellent and it did feel like a final with a great crowd, so we we're happy that the game was played here. I never thought the game was over at 3-0 as we've got a huge amount of respect for Penybont. It was disappointing for us to concede those late goals, but I guess that's the magic of the cup.”
A memorable comeback was not to be for Penybont despite a superb effort from Rhys Griffiths' side in the final exchanges. However, The New Saints were dominant for long periods of the match and were good value for their 3-0 lead, and deserve to take home the trophy once again. Both teams can take positives from the match, and taking the occasion to the Cardiff City Stadium proved to be a fitting venue and a success in raising the profile of the competition.
Penybont XI: Morris (GK), Owen (c), Evans, Jefferies, Georgievsky (Walsh 68), Ahmun (Watts 56), Wood, Whitmore, Snaith, Borge (Reynolds 46), MacDonald. Unused subs: Wilson (GK), Tweedy.
Manager: Rhys Griffiths.
Goals: MacDonald (84), Jefferies (90).
Yellow Cards: Whitmore (2), Snaith (51).
Red Cards: None.
The New Saints XI: Roberts (GK), Marriott, Davies, Astles, Routledge, Brobbel, McManus (Robles 82), Redmond (Cieslewicz 80), Williams, Smith (Clark 68), Davies. Unused subs: Harrison (GK), Canavan.
Manager: Anthony Limbrick.
Goals: Williams (31) (32), McManus (59 pen).
Yellow Cards: McManus (41), Redmond (54), Astles (83).
Red Cards: None.
Referee: Robert Jenkins Assistant referees: Lewiss Edwards and Andy Harms Fourth official: Nick Pratt Reserve assistant referee: James Sheils.