Cork City. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
IT IS one thing to qualify for the European Cup, quite another to confound the opposition with three goals in the first half-hour, which was little Cwmbran's remarkable achievement last night as Wales sent a team into the most prestigious club competition of all for the first time.
Cork might well argue that they all came against the run of play but there was no denying the marvellous spirit and composure Cwmbran brought to the illustrious occasion as the pounds 35-a- week champions of the Konica League continued the fairy tale they began last season in becoming Wales' first representative in the tournament.
Their newly discovered supporters were still filing into the picturesque athletics stadium when Cwmbran gained a surprise lead from the penalty spot after four minutes. The former Cardiff striker Francis Ford then took outrageous advantage of the only other two opportunities to come their way in an incredible first half.
It could not last, and as the part- timers flagged so the Irish visitors at last found the target to leave them with just one goal to retrieve in the second leg in a fortnight's time. They will be favourites to go through to the first round proper and face the Turkish side Galatasary but this is an adventure Cwmbran are determined to enjoy all the way.
'There are a lot of disappointed players in the dressing-room, which seems ridiculous when we have just won a European Cup match,' the Cwmbran manager, Tony Willcox, said. 'But we have done ourselves proud and if Cork believe it is now all over, well let them think that. They came back well in the second half and it looks as if their fitness told, but we still have a lead to take to Ireland and they have got to remove it from us.'
The Welsh club enjoyed a dream start. In the first move of note Micky Dicks cleverly set up Simon King who put Ford away. The striker beat Dave Barry who was forced to bring him down. King put away the penalty, which heralded a sustained period of pressure from Cork. However their finishing was hurried, and the Cwmbran defence were able to show why they are known as the Mean Machine.
They were just about holding on when the Welshmen scored twice in little more than a minute. Dicks again worked the opening and there was Ford to dive headlong to score. It then became three as he sped away from his marker and left the goalkeeper Phil Harrington in admiration at finishing of a very high standard.
The introduction of Cork's second substitute, John Caulfield, made the difference as he reduced the deficit to 3-1 in the 53rd minute and then provided a far-post opportunity for Anthony Buckley, who had been the first change.
So rapid was Cwmbran's decline that Cork could even have won on the night. Pat O'Hagan displayed heroics in the Cwmbran goal, touching a Tommy Gaynor free-kick on to the bar, then watching Paul Hague's header go the same way, before finally being relieved to find Phil McNeil on the line to clear away from Declan Hyde.
Cwmbran Town (4-3-3): O'Hagan; Burrows, Blackie, Copeman, King; Parselle (Payne, 75), Goodridge, Dicks (McNeil, 80); Wharton, Ford, Powell.
Cork City (4-4-2): Harrington; Daly, Hague, O'Donoghue, Napier; Roache, Barry (Buckley, 30), Hyde, Glynn (Caulfield, 59); Gaynor, Morley.
Referee: G Orrason (Iceland).Reuse content