Bangor City join The New Saints, Airbus UK and Aberystwyth Town in representing Welsh football on European soil this summer after a commanding play-off final win over rivals Rhyl in front of 1, 442 spectators. Tom Donnegan’s horrendous late challenge soured the final day of what has, on the whole, been an excellent season in the Welsh Premier League.
A classy strike from Les Davies and a Chris Jones penalty secured City a €110,000 jackpot in European prize money though it was the unnecessary dismissal of Peter Dogan on 51-minutes which shifted the momentum of the game firmly into Bangor’s favour.
Dogan, who was fortunate to only escape with a yellow-card early in the first-half for an over-zealous attempt to win the ball, could have no complaints when he was shown a second-yellow by Mark Whitby for another poorly-timed challenge.
Twelve-minutes later Bangor took the advantage when Les Davies delightfully picked his spot from the edge of the area, sending a low shot through a crowded goalmouth and past Alex Ramsay’s near post. From that point on there was only ever going to be one winner with Rhyl looking subdued in attack.
Rhyl will have felt an injustice when returning right-back Matty Woodward was adjudged to have handled inside the area, conceding a 74th-minute penalty. Television replays of the incident proved inconclusive and Chris Jones’ poorly-struck spot-kick further rubbed salt into Rhyl’s wounds when it squirmed its way over the goal-line underneath Ramsay, to effectively end the tie.
Bangor were comfortable in seeing the duration out but there was time for further incident when Rhyl substitute Tom Donnegan quite literally made his mark late on in the game, with a terrible attempt(?) to win the ball off Les Davies, in what was perhaps the ugliest moment of the 2013/14 season.
As Les Davies played the ball there was a clear delay before the disgraced Rhyl midfielder recklessly flew in two-footed on the Bangor number nine. To describe whatever Donnegan was trying to do as ‘challenge’ would be inaccurate. This was clearly a bad-tempered assault which Les Davies was fortunate to escape without a serious injury. Though Rhyl were well-beaten on the day, regardless of the outcome, the play-off final was an opportunity for the club to reflect on a tremendous season back in the WPL, following promotion 12-months ago. However, Donnegan’s offence will have detracted from that somewhat and he has let down his teammates, his club and supporters with such a lack of discipline. I don’t like to criticise individuals but I hope and expect to see a lengthy-ban issued to Donnegan – it was simply inexcusable and not good for his club or the league.
To finish on a positive, it was great to see such 1,442 fans in attendance for the end-of-season finale at the Bookpeople Stadium. As Sgorio’s Mark Jones noted in his commentary, to see such attendances week-in week-out in the Welsh Premier League would transform the league and that is what the league and clubs must continue to aspire to.
Here’s hoping! Enjoy the summer.