Match Review: Bangor City 1 Cardiff Met 0
Bangor City’s Dean Rittenberg was once again the scourge of Cardiff Metropolitan University, as the students saw their European dreams dashed in the Welsh Premier League’s Europa League play-off final at the Bangor University Stadium.
The former Blackburn Rovers youngster, who found the net in both of the previous two league meetings between the sides, popped up once again 15 minutes before the break to hand the Citizens a place in Europe’s secondary competition for the first time since 2014.
A tightly-contested affair saw Met’s Adam Roscrow have an effort chalked off midway through the second half, but Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s men held on for a well-earned win, sparking jubilant scenes among the home faithful.
Bangor will take their place alongside second-placed Connah’s Quay and JD Welsh Cup winners Bala Town in the Europa League qualifying rounds, with TNS set to compete in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League.
The hosts did their best to assert themselves during a bright opening 10 minutes, with Met goalkeeper Will Fuller palming away an early effort from WPL Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year nominee Henry Jones, before getting up well to turn Taylor-Fletcher’s flick over the bar a few minutes later.
And despite diverting a free header wide on 17 minutes, City’s interim player-manager was at the heart of a decisive goal for his side just after half an hour, marauding his way down the right before finding Rittenberg with a low cross, who marked his 21st birthday by drilling home.
After a disappointing first half, the students showed more urgency after the break, with Eliot Evans warming the palms of City keeper Connor Roberts, who also did well to turn Will Evans’s effort round the post just after the hour.
Roscrow thought he’d hauled his team level when he turned to lash home from close range, only for referee Bryn Jones to pull play back for handball.
Bangor were under pressure, but nearly killed the game off when substitute Sion Edwards forced another smart save from Fuller late on.
However, one goal proved to be enough for the Citizens, who earned a place in Europe for the 14th time in their history.
Man of the Match: Gary Taylor-Fletcher (Bangor City) – Having played at nearly every level of the English football pyramid, the veteran now has a chance to play in Europe for the first time. Despite coming off midway through the first half he played an integral part in this win. Whether he will be handed the reins full-time remains to be seen.