The Welsh Cup fourth round failed to throw up any upsets at the weekend but the live Sgorio game between holders TNS and six-time winners Barry Town United was a celebrated affair which bought the fallen giants back into the national limelight.
The New Saints had little to worry about by the time defender Ryan Jones steered the ball into his own net to give them a comfortable 5-2 advantage, but when Barry immediately cancelled Greg Draper’s early goal and then went on to forge a 2-1 lead of their own after just 11-minutes of play, there was more than a hint in the air of the game blossoming into a true Welsh Cup classic as two of Welsh domestic football’s heavyweights rolled back the years.
Barry Town were the kings of the Welsh game in the nineties and at the turn of the millennium but amidst administration and off-field disputes, TNS (then Llansantffraid) were able to snatch their crown and embark on their own era of domination of the Welsh football system which remains unchallenged.
The spectacle of Barry Town returning to the Welsh Premier League as a credible title-contenting side would give Welsh football a huge shot in the arm if it were to happen, but while it remains at present a pipe dream, this Welsh Cup tie will have certainly helped grow the club and area’s appetite for top-flight football.
A healthy crowd of 1,500 attended Jenner Park on Saturday, a figure which is easily the biggest I can remember for a Welsh domestic game in south Wales – it should not be forgotten Barry Town United are the biggest Welsh domestic football club in South Wales.
With Llanelli still some way off reaching their former heights (their own off-field troubles are not dissimilar to those at Barry) and WPL regulars Carmarthen and Port Talbot struggling to compete at the top end of the table, the league is missing a club which is able to challenge from the south.
Barry are currently in contention at the top of the Welsh League Division One table but any return to the WPL is far from certain with the club needing to not only win the league title but also successfully gain an FAW Domestic License to compete in the top-flight.
That leaves plenty of work for Gavin Chesterfield’s side to get on with but the feeling around the league is that Barry Town United’s return to the Welsh Premier League would be warmly received – even by the current occupants of the WPL throne.
The quarter-final draw:
Afan Lido/Cardiff Met v Connah’s Quay
Cwmbran Celtic/Goytre v Port Talbot
Guilsfield/Airbus v Bala Town
TNS v Newtown
Image courtesy of TNS FC/Brian Jones