Splott-based Bridgend Street go in search of their great honour this evening, as they take on Llanelli in the final of the Welsh League Cup.
Having already performed one miracle semi-final comeback to take the tie to extra-time, nine-man Street looked dead-and-buried at 5-4 down to Haverfordwest County at the clock ticked towards 120 minutes. Yet, with players battling severe cramp, they levelled the tie up from the spot in the final minute and slammed home all four kicks in the shoot out to spark scenes of wild celebration.
In amongst the semi final heroics – of which tales will surely be told for years – Street also dispatched of Division One Taffs Well in the Quarter Final. Yet tonight’s game could easily be considered their toughest in the Cup. Llanelli Town, Lee Trundle and all. An undefeated league season. Knocked out of the Welsh Cup only by TNS.
Street Manager Craig Dale was honest about the challenge ahead. He said, “We’ve beaten some good teams on our way to the final, but Llanelli’s record this season is nothing short of sensational. It’s a real David v Goliath match up. We’ll be massive underdogs again, but our hardest game of the competition? I guess will find out after.”
Bridgend Street have a long history, but not at Welsh League level, making tonight’s game probably the biggest the club has ever played. About appearing in the final, Dale said, “It’s a remarkable achievement for a club our size to be here competing against one of the most famous clubs in Wales. We’ve a proud 118 year history where we’ve won leagues and cups, but we’ve never been somewhere like this before. The whole community are behind us, Splott, Tremorfa, Adamsdown and beyond. It’s gripped everyone and I think we’ll have a great deal of support at the final.”
The obvious focus on the game, as is often the case when Llanelli play, is ex-Swansea star Lee Trundle. However, Bridgend Street have an experienced front man themselves, in Jeff White, who has played at the highest level in Wales. Dale reflected on both number nines and said, “How do you stop Lee Trundle? Lock him in the changing rooms?! All jokes aside he’s a great player who could maybe even still be playing professionally, he’s a phenomenal act. He’s clear the focal point of their team, but they have quality throughout and defensively we can’t put all our eggs in one basket.
“Jeff is a top class player. There aren’t many better at holding the ball up and bringing others into play. His experience is vital, we’ve got a relatively young squad and they’ve all learnt so much from Jeff, both playing alongside him and in training.”
Dale doesn’t quite have a full strength squad to chose from this evening. Just last week left back Mike Lewis suffered a double leg break at Trefelin, while young striker Jack Huntley still has a hamstring issue. Nathan Gulley is cup tied and Rhys Foley is away on holiday.
Neutrals attending tonight will no doubt be expecting the Lee Trundle show, but Bridgend Street have already performed miracles in their cup run this season and fans of The Mission will be hoping that they’ll be having the night of their dreams.
The Nathaniel Cup Final takes places at Old Road, Briton Ferry AFC with a 7pm kick off. £5 entry for adults.
(Featured Image: Lewis Mitchell)