The New Saints Under 19’s advanced into the FAW Welsh Youth Cup Final after beating Llandudno 1-0 after extra time.
Swansea City Under 19’s will await Steve Evans’ side after a solitary goal from Ryan Kershaw.
The midfielder scored the winning goal in the 104th minute to send his side into the Cup Final.
The winning team consisted of Stewart Evans, Ollie Beaman, Adam Davies, James Jones, Jordan Wells, Ryan Kershaw, Rhys Cooper, Fisnik Hajdari, Taylor James, Harrison Millington and Dylan Jones.
It was a competitive and tight encounter played in windy conditions which saw serious clear-cut chances in rather short supply at both ends in the first half.
The first chance of note in an evenly fought first half came Saints’ way in the 11th minute when Fisnik Hadjari won a tackle with Town’s Bryan Roberts on the left before sending a through ball for Taylor James, who ran into the left of the box before seeing his low cross across the face of the goal fail to get a touch.
Then at the same end in the 30th minute, Harrison Millington’s short corner on the left was returned to him by Ryan Kershaw before Millington passed infield to Adam Davies who sent a left foot volley from 25 yards past Town keeper Connor Wearing’s left hand angle.
The first chance of the second half came Saints’ way in the 48th minute when James Jones’ through ball down the middle found Kershaw, whose right foot shot from 23 yards was held by Wearing.
Then after Saints had brought on Sam Prince for Ollie Beaman in the 52nd minute, the next chance came their way 2 minutes later when Prince played a one-two with James on the left before seeing his cross fail to get a touch.
Llandudno’s first serious chance came in the 55th minute when Sam Pritchard’s through ball down the right found Dean Seager, whose right foot shot was wide of Saints keeper Stewart Evans’ left hand angle.
Then at the same end from Roberts’ corner in the 65th minute, Seager had 2 shots blocked in a scramble before he fired the 3rd shot well over the bar from 20 yards.
Then in the 68th minute, Saints were dealt a blow when Rhys Cooper was injured after a bad tackle in midfield by James Joyce and after receiving several minutes of treatment on the pitch, was stretchered off with an ankle injury and replaced by Mark Murch (time of substitution 75th minute). The latest news at the time of writing this report on Monday evening (24th March) is that X-rays taken at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan have revealed that thankfully nothing is broken.
Llandudno came very close to breaking the deadlock in the 76th minute when Roberts fed Seager on the left whose great cross found Peter Jones, whose powerful header from 6 yards was somehow beaten out by Evans for a superb save before Jordan Wells hooked the ball clear.
Seconds later at the same end, a through ball found Peter Jones who tried to round Evans as he came out before seeing his left foot shot from 8 yards from a tight angle cleared off the line at the keeper’s left hand post by Hadjari.
The next chance came Town’s way in the 83rd minute when a long clearance from Wearing found Dean Seager who ran into the box before having his shot blocked by Evans.
Then a minute later at the other end, Kershaw’s free kick from 25 yards was only just wide of Wearing’s left hand post.
Then in the 2nd minute of a scheduled 7 minutes of added time, Saints went close when James’ through ball on the left found Murch who ran into the box before seeing his lob clip the top of the bar. However, Murch had been flagged offside.
Then with exactly 3 minutes of added time gone, Roberts went close to winning it for Llandudno when he sent a free kick from 30 yards just inches over the bar.
Then in the last minute of added time at the end of normal time, Saints went close when Prince fed James on the left who cut in before having his low shot saved at his near post by Wearing.
With the deadlock still not having been broken, extra time was needed and Saints brought on Liam Walker to replace Millington to start extra time.
The first chance of extra time came Saints’ way in the 98th minute when Kershaw sent a free kick from 35 yards only just over the bar.
Then 3 minutes later at the other end, Dean Seager cut in from the right before crossing low for Sam Williams, whose shot was saved by Evans.
Saints had a great chance to score in the 103rd minute when Hadjari’s long clearance out of defence found James on the left who ran on to find himself in a one on one with Wearing, who blocked James’ shot from 8 yards.
With thoughts starting to turn to the dreaded penalties, the deadlock was finally broken a minute later when Kershaw won a tackle with Roberts and beat 2 men as he ran through the middle before firing a low right foot drive from 25 yards into Wearing’s right hand corner for a superb individual goal.
The first chance of the second period of extra time came Saints’ way in the 107th minute when Davies’ long ball on the left found James, who ran on before sending a chip from a tight angle from 7 yards past the far post.
Then at the other end in the 116th minute, Roberts played a one-two with Joyce on the left before finding Seager, whose left foot angled drive from the left corner of the 6 yard box looked certain to be going into the keeper’s left hand corner until it was somehow cleared off the line by Wells.
That was the last chance of note for either side and Saints played out the final 4 minutes without further alarm before the final blast of Connah’s Quay referee Steve Hughes’ whistle ended brave Llandudno’s run for another year and signalled Saints’ place in the final.
Llandudno: Connor Wearing, Liam Jones, Owen Williams, Bryan Roberts, Tom Cad Williams, Sam Williams, Jack Atherton, James Joyce, Peter Jones, Dean Seager, Sam Pritchard. Subs: Ben Wayward (for Prichard 90), Matt Jones (for Atherton 60), Ben Seager (for Owen Williams 112), Joe Roberts (not used), Robbie Rimmington (GK) (not used).
Saints: Stewart Evans, Adam Davies, Ollie Beaman, Jordan Wells, Ryan Kershaw, Rhys Cooper, Fisnik Hadjari, Taylor James, Harrison Millington, James Jones, Dylan Jones. Subs: Greg Fletcher (GK) (not used), Mark Murch (for Cooper 75), Sam Prince (for Beaman 52), Liam Walker (for Millington 91).
The New Saints’ opponents in the final will be the holders Swansea City after they beat their south Wales rivals Cardiff City 3-1 in their semi final at Port Talbot Town’s ground on the previous Wednesday night (19th March).
Saints will be hoping it will be a case of 3rd time lucky against Swansea after losing to City in the 2012 final and again in the quarter finals last season with the south Wales side going on to win the trophy for the 4th year running.
It will be a tough test for Saints but the side moulded together by manager Steve Evans and his assistant Gordon Evans have done very well this season and will be hoping they can go one better this time round and lift the trophy for the first time in the club’s history.