Second Division Cup Final:
Hundleton 0–2 Merlins Bridge 2nds
SUPERB second half goals from Dan Bryce and Ashley Prior sealed Second Division Cup glory for Merlins Bridge 2nds as they overcame Hundleton at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium tonight (Friday).
It was Hundleton who created the better chances on the night - but they were made to pay for a lack of a clinical finish when on 68 minutes, Bryce struck a wonderful free kick from 30 yards out that curled over keeper Brandon Fienhage and into the top corner.
And with seven minutes left, substitute Prior sealed the win when he went through on goal and struck a precise left foot shot into the far corner to finish matters.
The goals lit up what was at times a cagey affair, and both sides struggled to get in the ascendancy in the early stages.
Bridge striker Joe John’s first touch let him down as he tried to race through on goal from the edge of the area, and at the other end, Geraint Lewis’ low shot narrowly evaded Dylan Davies as he looked to pounce from close range.
It took 23 minutes for the first clear chance to come, and it was one that should have put Hundleton in front as Aaron Goldsmith played in Joe Buckle, but he could only drag his right foot shot across Bridge keeper Nick Jones and wide of the post.
Moments later Davies thought he’d put his side ahead when he turned in Brandon Sture’s cross, only to be flagged offside, and there was further frustration for Hundleton when Goldsmith whipped a 20 yard shot inches wide of the post.
But the same player then should have done better as he latched onto a bouncing ball, but with Jones stranded, could only lob wastefully over.
The Wizards did threaten when Chris Bryce drove a half volley over from the edge of the area, but the game remained goalless at the break.
It was Goldsmith who tested Jones early in the second half but his long range shot lacked the power to trouble the Bridge keeper, before Bryce was off target with a long shot of his own for The Wizards.
Bridge striker John had also had appeals for a penalty turned down when he tumbled over in the area – before Hundleton fashioned two half chances in quick succession.
First, Lewis couldn’t keep his shot down after Jones had miscued his punch out, and then Goldsmith jinked past two Bridge defenders but dragged his shot wide.
But moments later, the deadlock was broken when Brett Shakir won Bridge a free kick 30 yards out, and Bryce did the rest with an effort that curled and dipped, leaving Fienhage with no chance as it sailed into the far top corner.
Hundleton tried to respond as Davies skipped past two tackles but struck his angled shot straight at Jones, before both Goldsmith and Buckle failed to get a clean strike on goal during a scramble in the Bridge area.
And they paid the price on 83 minutes, as Aaron Devine slipped a pass to Prior, and he took a touch before hitting a powerful shot across Fienhage and into the net.
The goal secured cup glory for The Wizards’ second string in their first season back in the Second Division, and now put the club on the verge of an historic cup double, with the first team contesting the Senior Cup final with Clarbeston Road on Saturday, April 23rd.
Hundleton: Brandon Fienhage, Ben Pannell (Rhodri Davies 67), Brandon Sture, Jack Richards, Marc Edwards, Jake Griffiths, Geraint Lewis (Craig Manning 75), Lloyd Wilson, Dylan Davies, Aaron Goldsmith, Joe Buckle.
Subs not used: Jack Phillips.
Merlins Bridge 2nds: Nick Jones, Simon Morgan (Stephen Clarke 87), Sean Jones, Dan Williams, Tom Jago (Ashley Prior 67), Dan Bryce (capt), Brett Shakir, Aaron Devine, Chris Bryce, Joe John (Bradley Davies 81), Ben Skudder.
Referee: James Olyott.
Assistant referees: Paul Amos and Bradley Flood.
Fourth official: Sean O’Connor.