MATCH REPORT: Grange Albion 4-1 Llangynwyd Rangers
Just a stones throw from the gleaming hulk that is the Cardiff City Stadium, lies Coronation Park, home of South Wales Alliance club, Grange Albion.
It is a ground I passed countless times on my way to Ninian Park but had never ventured inside until I made a long overdue first visit last Saturday. I was greeted warmly by the Albion manager who supplied me with the team-sheets for both sides and was one of a few groundhoppers completing a treble of matches starting with Cardiff City under-18s v Millwall under 18s and culminating in the Nathaniel Cars Cup Final at Cardiff Met University.
On a pitch not exactly conducive to free flowing football, both sides tried hard to impose themselves in the early stages with clear cut chances at a premium and a number of wasteful set pieces from both sides.
Home striker Nathan White looked a constant threat and despite the difficult surface, his pace and trickery were clearly unnerving the Llangynwyd defence. It was White who had the first chance of the game, shooting over after 3 minutes following some good build up play from the home side.
Both sides created a number of half chances in the opening period but through a combination of poor finishing and resolute defending were unable to make a breakthrough. Neither side could be criticised for a lack of effort and to the credit of the referee he tried to let the game flow as the tackles flew in, playing a number of good advantages and alleviating any potential flashpoints.
The deadlock was finally broken on the stroke of half time when visiting keeper Will Gregory failed to deal with an in-swinging corner and only succeeded in pushing the ball into his own net to give Grange Albion the lead going into the break.
The goal proved to be just the catalyst the hosts needed and 10 minutes after the interval when Jack Kane doubled Albion’s lead with a wonderful dipping volley from the edge of the box.
The visitors tried manfully to get a foothold in the game but were limited to long range efforts and hopeful crosses which rarely troubled the home custodian, Nathan Alderman.
It was clear that the next goal would be crucial and it arrived in the 75th minute courtesy of that man Kane, expertly curling a low shot into the bottom corner of the Rangers net to surely seal the 3 points for Albion.
Having already bagged a brace, Kane was in search of a hat-trick and came close with 10 minutes to go when his close range effort was scrambled behind by the visiting defenders. Any disappointment was short-lived however when James Cotterill curled the resulting corner directly into the rangers net to put the outcome beyond any doubt.
To their credit, the visitors rallied late on and claimed a deserved consolation goal 4 minutes from time, left back Nathan Watkins tapping in from close range following a fumble from Alderman.
A well deserved 3 points for the home side means they rise from 5th place to 4th while Llangynwyd will be nervously looking over their shoulders as they sit just 2 points off the relegation zone having played more games than the teams currently occupying the bottom 3.