Bangor saw their Welsh Cup hopes waved away by a very poor offside call which spared Gareth Edwards a 30th minute red card for a pull on Sam Jones. And yes there was trouble – albeit outside the ground – as rival fans clashed on the streets of Upper Bangor before kick off.
City had to rule out goalkeeper Chris Mullock and centre half Sam Barnes through injury and manager Gary Taylor Fletcher opted to watch from the bench as the game got underway on a sodden Nantporth which had been made ready by the selfless efforts of a handful of volunteers.
City started the brighter with a string of five corners in as many opening minutes but none resulted in a direct effort on goal. In fact from the fifth Caernarfon broke upfield and it took a well timed challenge from Jordan Piggott on half way to stop Danny Brookwell.
Referee Bryn Markham Jones was probably anxious not to reach for his cards too early in proceedings as he failed to punish a heavy challenge on Jake Phillips by Brookwell as the visitors seemed to single out City’s right back for some robust attention.
Bangor had dominated the opening fifteen minutes which culminated in Robbie Parry slipping as he raced clear and right winger Jacob Farleigh shoot into the side netting.
There was a taste of things to come on twenty minutes though as Gareth Edwards rose highest but headed wide from a Caernarfon corner. City should have gone ahead midway through the half but tall midfielder Jamie Crowther did enough to put Marc Williams off at the back post as the ginger marksman headed wide. Williams and Town goalkeeper Alex Ramsay both needed treatment with the Oswestry based glovesman sporting a bloody nose.
With the game now more even Caernarfon took the lead on 27 minutes. Former Colwyn Bay midfielder Gareth Evans passed through to Jamie Breese who was allowed the time and space to run to the left and crash home beyond Nathan Wolland from ten yards.
Moments later an overdue yellow card for another late challenge by Brookwell on Jake Phillips but Caernarfon went close to a second as Joe Williams crossed from the right but thankfully for City Brookwell smashed wide.
Then the inevitable controversy. Robbie Parry played Sam Jones in behind the Caernarfon defence and last man Gareth Edwards pulled him down. Straight red. But an offside flag halted the inevitable and Edwards escaped, more of him later. The offside unfortunately was incorrect and the former Cefn blocker should have taken an early bath with an hour left to play. On such fine margins..
With that escape safely tucked away the visitors continued to create chances and Darren Thomas went close before Mike Williams cleared for City.
With eight minutes left of the first half Bangor won but largely wasted a sixth corner before Sam Jones shot on target but Ramsay saved easily enough. Former blues midfielder Jamie Crowther shot on target from distance but Nathan Wolland gathered comfortably Jamie Breese again ran down the left but this time Wolland rushed out to save.
City won a free kick for a challenge from behind by Joe Williams on Robby Parry which dropped to Sam Jones who hit the target but Ramsay saved at his near post. Sam Jones ran in behind on the right – from behind left back Craig – but was again given offside by the linesman who was wrong again.
On the brink of half time Bangor won a corner on the left disputed by goalkeeper Ramsay. Jake Phillips sent in a low right footed curler which seemed to beat everyone although Jordan Piggott and Robbie Parry both celebrated feint touches. A goal it was either way!
And that was about it with Bangor drawing level at the last, deservedly so after the interventions of the inept flag waving official.
Jake Phillips corner nestles in the net
HALF TIME 1-1
No changes at the interval.
City now attacking the Antelope End but it was Caernarfon who forged the first opening as the impressive Gareth Evans fired at Nathan Wolland who caught cleanly.
Another foul by Gareth Edwards on the pacey Sam Jones – the fourteenth of the evening by the visitors against two by Bangor – resulted in a free kick which came to nothing.
Ten minutes into the second period Jamie Crowther fired wide from distance before Robbie Parry sent a curler off target.
On 57 minutes a first change of the evening as Noah Edwards replaced Cai Owen. And three minutes later he was able to join the celebrations as Gareth Edwards was left unmarked to head home Jamie Crowther’s cross from the right.
Edwards who might so easily have been watching from the back of the stand.
City won but wasted an eighth corner of the evening before Jacob Farleigh found some time and space on the right but fired over.
On 65 minutes a yellow card for Marc Williams as the visitors started to dominate proceedings on the heavy pitch. A ninth corner came to nothing, Jordan Piggott was shown the yellow card for a foul on Breese before Caernarfon forced a couple of corners and introduced Sion Bradley for the combative Brookwel with ten minutes left.
Bangor fans must have wondered why City did not ring the changes and they finally did so on 82 minutes with the arrival of Gary Taylor Fletcher for Robbie Parry and five minutes later Alex Boss and Sam Dool for Jacob Farleigh and Yalany Baio respectively. In between these changes Caernarfon substitute Noah Edwards went close to increasing their lead.
For Bangor it was too late, the heavy pitch might not have suited young Boss but the sprinter’s pace might have unsettled the one paced Craig had he been introduced fifteen or twenty minutes earlier. Who knows.
What is certain is that of those many changes Noah Edwards made the biggest impact as he brought a measure of calm and control to the Canaries midfield as they comfortably saw the remainder of the match out.
Into added time a yellow card for goalkeeper Ramsay for time wasting and a third and final substitution for Caernarfon as Rhys Roberts replaced Jamie Breese.
There was time for one final clumsy challenge by Crowther on Sam Jones but no foul or free kick signalled and that was about it. The visiting fans celebrated loudly and, if anything, football was the winner on a wet night which saw 2500 local supporters largely enjoy a hard fought cup-tie between the two old enemies.
Repercussions no doubt in the following days regarding the pre match fisticuffs although the vast majority of those present simply came to enjoy a game of football.
Main Photo BBC Wales
Match Report: Mike Smith https://www.the-citizens-choice.co.uk