Bangor City lost to Gresford but could be proud of the performances of the teenagers who wore the blue shirt today. And the guidance offered by old heads like Mike Williams and Gary Taylor Fletcher.
Depleted by departures City fielded a youthful line up in a game played at Conwy Borough. The first time in my memory that a league match has been staged on a neutral ground although European matches had been played at Belle Vue and The Racecourse.
To clear up the starting line up, Jordan Piggott and Mike Williams played centreback with Cian Williams to the right and leftpeg Kian Owen on the left. Gary Taylor Fletcher operated in midfield alongside Gethin Thomas with Jacob Farleigh to the right and Alex Boss the left. Sam Jones and Robbie Parry upfront.
Both sides won early corners but it was around the ten minute mark that Robbie Parry produced the first shot in anger as he forced Ben Jones into a fine one handed save. The resulting corner from the right swung in left footed by Kian Owen was dropped by Jones but he recovered to save comfortably Sam Jones’ strike from the left.
On the quarter hour a yellow card for diminutive midfielder Josh Griffiths for a heavy challenge on Alex Boss, what Martin Keown might refer to as a “reducer”. The verbose midfielder continued to argued the point with referee Jones who generally dealt well with a competitive but never dirty game.
The lanky Jack Chaloner caught the eye in the Gresford midfield and it was his run to the right which led to a cross for Simon Smith to force a first save from Nathan Wolland in the Bangor goal.
Midway through the half a moment of pure comedy as goalkeeper Jones wound himself up for a big clearance but sliced the ball agonisingly close to his righthand post and out for a corner. But minutes later it was Nathan Wolland who was in the thick of the action with a double save, first from Nathan Williams and then Simon Smith from close range.
Joe Newtown ran at goal but the dependable Mike Williams stood firm then Tom Freeman found time and space but fired wide. But on 33 minutes the visitors had the lead.
A disputed freekick from the attacking left was swept over by Simon Smith and flew over everyone into the back post. If the former Wrexham youth teamer meant that only he will know, but it was a clean strike on target.
Seven minutes later Bangor drew level. Sam Jones ran clear thanks to Robbie Parry and slotted the ball beyond Ben Jones despite the best efforts of centreback Jack Jones. Moments later the young strker was clattered with a knee in the back – another reducer – but in fairness this is mens football and Bangor defenders foul too.
Ans that was about it as the two hundred or so present sought out the warmth of the clubhouse to escape the cold for fifteen minutes.
All to play for…
HALF TIME 1-1
No changes at the interval
Bangor now attacking the Social Club end and looking to at least hold what they had got from the first period.
After a cagey start Gresford won a corner ten minutes into the second period which sailed to the back post where Ben Burrows saw his effort cannon off the upright.
On the hour mark Athletic won a couple more corners after some strong defending from rightback Cian Williams. Moments later City rushed upfield and Alex Boss ran in behind the Gresford defence but sliced his effort wide.
With 65 minutes gone a first change of the afternoon as recent signing Sam Pilkington replaced Tom Freeman for the visitors. Moments later Simon Smith went down in the Bangor box but referee Jones waved away penalty claims. Lewis George came on for Jake Eyre in the Athletic attack.
Then with twenty minutes to go Gresford won a freekick to the left edge of the box which Simon Smith approached but Joe Culshaw struck home sweetly to put his side ahead once more.
Culshaw made twenty odd appearances for City during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.
The question now was whether or not the youthful blues could fightback for a second time.
City managed to carve out perhaps one clear opening when Robbie Parry slid the ball wide to Alex Boss but his shot from the left flew over the bar.
In the closing minutes young Dylan Summers Jones trotted on for his first team debut in place of Alex Boss and he played in his part in the a flurry of three late corners but in truth Gresford defended strongly and City could not forge a clear chance.
So a narrow defeat and one which was clearly influenced by player departures and events off the field. Player manager Taylor Fletcher and former Wrexham captain Mike Williams could take pride in their guiding role amongst their youthful charges but overall it was not quite enough to take a share of the spoils.
After the match Taylor Fletcher suggested he was waiting on International Clearance on a couple of reinforcements.
Next game at Holyhead on Saturday 9th February 2019 in the League Cup semi final.
FULL TIME 1-2
Match Report: Mike Smith https://www.the-citizens-choice.co.uk/