Huws Gray Alliance
Holywell Town closed the gap on top spot in the Huws Gray Alliance to four points with a superb 5-0 victory at home to Ruthin Town on Saturday.
While table-topping Caernarfon Town were needing a dramatic injury-time equaliser from goalkeeper Alex Ramsay to earn 1-1 home draw with Rhyl, their nearest challengers were cruising to their fourth win in their last five matches.
Not that Holywell had it all their own way, mind. Indeed, the visit of mid-table Ruthin remained goalless at half-time mainly thanks to in-form Wellmen goalkeeper Shaun Pearson, who made a number of early saves, the best of which denied the league’s leading marksman Llyr Morris.
But the outcome was never in doubt from the moment Sam Jones slotted in a penalty two minutes into the second half.
Jones went on to complete his hat-trick with well-taken finishes either side of headed efforts from Matty Harvey and substitute Marc Gunther.
Holywell boss John Haseldine said: “We were a bit below in our tempo first half but it was a great performance in the second half by us - and I’ve got to give a huge amount of credit to our players for that. Ruthin are a good side and don’t get beat like that by anyone these days.”
It was also an afternoon to savour for improving Flint Town United who made it back-to-back league wins for new manager Niall McGuinness with an impressive 3-0 success at Penrhyncoch.
Richie Foulkes was handed the skipper’s armband in the absence of Carl Rodgers and he responded by producing a captain’s performance.
Foulkes doubled Flint’s advantage from the penalty spot and completed the scoring on the stroke of half-time as well as offering a defensive shield to the young centre-back pairing of Jacob Lever and Jacques Welsh, who both put in assured displays.
It was another Silkmen new boy, Morgan Jones, who broke the deadlock after heading in a cross from Joe Palmer, for whom it was the first of two assists.
Airbus UK Broughton slipped to fifth after losing 3-1 at fellow high flyers Guilsfield.
It was a deserved defeat for the Wingmakers, who have now not won away from home since September.
But the outcome may have been different had they been able to take the chances that followed Alfons Fosu-Mensah’s opener.
Striker James Hooper, from Flint, and midfielders Nathan Quirk and Aboubacar Sanogo, from Radcliffe and Runcorn Town respectively, have signed for the Wingmkaers, who will look to return to winning ways at home to Penrhyncoch this Saturday.
Flint host leaders Caernarfon while Holywell travel to Caersws (all 2.30pm kick-offs).
Buckley Town and Greenfield have avoided each other in the draw for the FAW Trophy quarter-finals after the Flintshire duo moved closer to national glory at the weekend.
Buckley will make the trip to fellow Welsh National League outfit and 2008 winners Rhos Aewlyd in the last eight after winning 2-1 at home to Garden Village on Saturday.
Greenfield won 4-2 at Brymbo on the same afternoon to set up a quarter-final showdown at Welsh Alliance Division One rivals and 2014 winners Llanrug United.
Llanrug are one of the favourites to win the coveted competition after knocking out holders Chirk AAA.
But Greenfield will fancy their chances if they can repeat the spirited performance they produced in winning at Brymbo.
The prolific Sam Jones opened the scoring when he latched on to an under-hit back pass.
But the Welsh National League hosts recovered from that blow and also the sending off of Jordan Williams for a reckless challenge to take the lead in the first half of extra-time.
Liam Robinson restored parity from the penalty spot before Jones - for the second time – and Sion McHugh netted to secure Greenfield’s passage through to the last eight.
Aron Williams was Buckley’s match-winner as they got the better of Garden Village.
Jake Reilly put the Trotters in front with a neat finish. But the Swansea visitors deservedly drew level in the 65th minute through Scott Smith. And that was the way it stayed until late on when Aled Bellis fed Williams to drill home.
Buckley, though, had to withstand some nervy moments after they were reduced to 10 men shortly after.
Mynydd Isa Spartans’ run in the competition came to an end as they lost 3-1 at home to Cardiff side Grange Albion, rueing a string of missed scoring opportunities.
Grange Albion will travel to Conwy Borough in the quarter-finals. The other last-eight clash will be contested between Penydarren BGC and Llangefni Town. The ties will be played on February 10.
Welsh Premier League
Connah’s Quay Nomads ended the first phase of the JD Welsh Premier League season with a 4-2 defeat at Aberystwyth Town on Saturday.
But manager Andy Morrison’s disappointment at his side’s performance was tempered by the fact that they will finish second before the league splits in two.
Top-scorer Michael Wilde brought Nomads level and then thought he had halved the deficit after Aber raced into a 3-1 lead only for his effort on the stroke of half-time to be controversially ruled out for offside.
Wilde went on to have two more goals disallowed after the break.
Nomads also had two penalty appeals turned down in a one-sided second half.
But all they had to show for their dominance was a late consolation from new striker Andy Owens, whose performance delighted his otherwise frustrated boss.
Morrison said: “Give them [Aberystwyth] a bit of credit but it was more about us. The way we started the game was really poor.
“They won seven or eight individual battles in that first 20 minutes and that gave them the foothold to go on and win the game - and the goals we conceded were absolutely appalling.
“But we hung in there and got what we think is a perfectly good goal right on half-time to make it 3-2.
“We also feel we had two penalties disallowed. I’m not going to go and make excuses - these are facts.
“But I’m not trying to cover for the performance – the performance wasn’t good enough.
“But if things fall for us in the second half we score 10. We’ve absolutely peppered their goal, we caused them no end of problems, and we get done on the sucker punch on the break with their only shot of the second half.”
Nomads now have a free weekend before welcoming Porthmadog to the Deeside Stadium for a JD Welsh Cup tie on Saturday week (January 27).
And Morrison said: “It was a bitter way to end the first phase but on reflection, with the spending power of teams now in the league, for us to still have our noses in front (in second) is a fantastic achievement.
“We’ll learn from we did today and we won’t be as poor as that again going into the Porthmadog game and then going into the last 10 [league] games.
“We’re second and all in all it’s been a fantastic 22 games from the group of lads.”
Welsh National League
Saltney Town’s Welsh National League Premier Division title hopes were hit on Saturday.
The Bordermen went down to a 2-1 home defeat to Cefn Albion despite dominating long periods of the match.
Steve Chiocchi brought Saltney level and they would have scored again had it not been for the Cefn goalkeeper.
FC Nomads lost 1-0 at home to Llanuwchllyn, who moved up to second as a result.
Mold Alexandra fell 3-0 at Corwen, who are now third above Saltney.
Rhdymwyn and Castell Alun Colts played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in Division One.
Ross Sumner, Matt Gilsenan and Nick Manning were on target for improved Rhyd.
Josh Colclough (2) and Josh Williams netted for the Colts.
Castell Alun Colts ’ second string, meanwhile, were beaten 4-0 at Ruthin Town in the Reserves Division League Cup.
Tom Janney hit a hat-trick as Hawarden Rangers recorded a superb 3-1 victory at Flint Town United in the Reserves Division.
Tom Burrows scored the Silkmen’s consolation.
Mold Alexandra were 8-1 winners at Queens Park.
Goals from Scott Nelson and Connor Whelan could not stop FC Nomads from losing 3-2 at home to Gresford Athletic.
Matty Williams, Steve Orsler and Kris Turner fired New Brighton Villa to a 3-1 home win over Holywell Town in the Reserves Division.
Jay Wilkes reduced the arrears for the Wellmen.