At this latter stage of the Welsh Cup competition, when the Premier League teams enter, there are usually slim pickings when it comes to a new ground to visit. Luckily for me though, Pen-y-bont were drawn at home to Airbus so it was to South Wales I headed for the latest instalment on the road to....well, we will have to see!
Penybont is the Welsh name for Bridgend, the end of the bridge being on the River Ogmore which flows through town. I first visited the town in 2011 when Bridgend Town FC were playing at the rugby ground, The Brewery Field. The club played here from 2009 until 2013 when they merged with another local side, Bryntirion Athletic, to form Pen-y-Bont FC.
The new club are based at Bryntirion Park, the former home of Athletic, which, for sponsorship reasons, is now known as the Kymco Stadium. Despite the freezing cold conditions that the country has experienced over the past week, there was no danger of this game being off as a 3G pitch was laid, to coincide with the beginning of the new club.
Penybont are members of the Welsh league Division One, which sits directly below the Welsh Premier League in the Welsh pyramid. They are currently in 6th position in the table, 8 points behind current leaders Goytre, but with two games in hand.
They are managed by Welsh Premier League legend Rhys Griffiths, who is second on the all time goalscoring list behind Marc Lloyd-Williams. He scored a staggering 180 goals in 181 appearances for Llanelli between 2006 and 2012.
I witnessed The Wingmakers last visit to South Wales a few weeks ago, when they lost 2-0 to Cardiff Met. They are currently without a win since September and are rock bottom of the Welsh Premier League, so there was definitely the whiff of an upset in the air in the build up to kick off. Unfortunately for Airbus that is how is panned out. Admittedly they did not help themselves as their frailties at the back contributed to their downfall.
Penybont went at the visitors from the off and pressed them back, not giving the Wingmakers any time to settle. They found themselves two goals to the good after 19 minutes. Airbus goalkeeper Ryan Nield played the ball to Jake Hully on the edge of the area but a poor touch was intercepted by Joe Hopkins who squared for Marcus Griffiths to fire home (12).
Neild made a great save from a Griffiths header to deny the Penybont striker his second goal (pictured below) but Griffiths did hit the target in the 19th minute when more dithering in the Airbus defence led to a goal. Neild's clearance was intercepted by Hopkins who back healed the ball into the path of Griffiths who made no mistake.
Penybont's two goal lead only lasted two minutes when Ryan Fraughan found the bottom corner of the net from just inside the area. Despite not being in the game for most of the half Airbus should have gone in level at half time but a Liam O’Neill header found the crossbar with the goal at his mercy. When your luck is out...
The second half was 10 minutes old when Penybont restored their two goal advantage. A free kick was swung in and glanced home by player/manager Rhys Griffiths (pictured above). This time there was no coming back for Airbus. There were further chances for both sides but Penybont had the final say in the 89th minute with a superbly worked goal, the ball eventually being played through to Owain Warlow who wrapped up a deserved victory for Penybont.