Bangor City enter the third round of the Welsh Cup this weekend as one of the competition’s favourites.
The eight-time Cup winners have a rich pedigree in the competition and with the stakes for European qualification high once again, nothing short of a win on Saturday will be expected.
Bangor have re-established themselves as serious candidates for silverware following the boardroom takeover of the VSM group two years, who have invested in a complete overhaul of the club’s playing staff and management.
Now led by one of Welsh football’s brightest young coaches Kevin Nicholson and former Premier League striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who lends his experience as both a player and as assistant manager, Bangor have are one of the most dangerous sides in the Welsh Premier League – last week’s 5-0 drubbing of last season’s Welsh Cup winners Bala Town showcased the Citizens’ ability in what was their fourth successive win.
Step forward Carmarthenshire minnows Cwmamman United who’re unenviably tasked with bringing Bangor’s cup run to a premature end.
Cwmamman might well have progressed up through the Welsh system rapidly climbing up three tiers from the Neath District league to Welsh League Division One in only six years, but a win against Bangor City would be an enormous upset and the biggest achievement in the Amman Valley side’s history.
“Everyone involved with the club has really been looking forward to this as soon as the draw was made,” said Mark Snell, who is in his fourth year as manager having initially signed as a goalkeeper back in 2013/14.
“This is perfect timing for our club to have been awarded this high profile cup tie as we are in our first season playing the Welsh League Division One after achieving two promotion in three seasons , working our way up from Division Three.
“We are approaching the game understanding that we will need to be at our very best and for a lot of things to go our way to be able to achieve a cup upset, but we are not just turning up to enjoy the experience and have a jolly over the weekend.”
Snell acknowledges the gulf in quality between Bangor City and his Cwmamman team but believes his squad’s loyalty and togetherness will serve them well going forward regardless of the outcome.
“This fixture has really put us on the map – yes, of course we are massive underdogs and we have a lot of respect for Bangor as they are a massive force in Welsh football and have been for a long time, especially in this competition having won it the most times out of any of the domestic clubs.
“We are very blessed to have such a talented squad of players, with a number of them proving how much they enjoy their football at Cwm after being approached by so called bigger clubs with much bigger resources, but we have such a strong team unity and togetherness, helped by the fact at a lot of the lads have played alongside each other at previous clubs and know each other off the pitch. This has contributed massively to the team’s success and development,” he added.
“We are travelling up on the Friday afternoon and staying the night just outside Bangor to allow us to prepare properly for the match. I have done a lot of homework on them as I do for every opposition. We are a footballing side who like to get the ball down and play, just like Bangor, who of course boast a lot more experienced players at higher levels. We will be going out to enjoy the occasion but will be fully focussed on trying to get through to the next round and create one of the biggest cup shocks in this great competitions history.”
Cup holders Bala Town must bounce back from last week’s defeat to Bangor if they are to advance past the third round after being handed a difficult tie at Aberystwyth.
Aberystwyth are in high spirits following a 3-0 derby win over Newtown.
Aber boss Nev Powell – a three time winner of Welsh Cup as a manager – said: “Saturday’s game is a huge one for us, and the Welsh Cup means a lot to me as well as the club.”
Last season’s beaten finalists The New Saints start their Welsh Cup campaign at home to Cymru Alliance side Penrhyncoch.
Welsh Premier strugglers Carmarthen are at risk of an upset when they make the short trip to Welsh League Division Two outfit Ammanford AFC.
Newtown will also be looking to avoid the proverbial cup banana skin when they host a Guilsfield team, who’re unbeaten in their last eight outings.
Penydarren BGC, from the fifth level of the Welsh system, playing in the South Wales Alliance League, are the lowest ranked side still in the competition and travel to Llandudno Junction.
On Sunday, Caernarfon Town entertain Barry Town at the Oval in the weekend’s live televised game.
Welsh Cup third round fixtures: (Saturday unless stated)
The New Saints v Penrhyncoch (Fri); Aberystwyth Town v Bala Town; Airbus UK v Goytre AFC; Ammanford AFC v Carmarthen Town; Bangor City v Cwmamman United; Buckley Town v Flint Town United; COnnah’s Quay v Cwmbran Celtic; Porthmadog v Panteg FC; Llandudno Junction v Penydarren BGC; Llanrhaeadr v Cefn Druids; Newtown v Guilsfield; Penybont v Cardiff Met; Pontypridd v Haverfordwest County; Prestatyn Town v Ruthin Town; Caernarfon Town v Barry Town (Sun).