Cefn Druids were unceremoniously dumped out of the JD Welsh Cup as James Davies’ hat-trick helped Llanfair United to a shock 4-1 victory at Mount Field.
Druids’ cause wasn’t helped as they had to play 85 minutes of the match with ten men after Rakim Newton was shown a straight red card early on.
Huw Griffiths recalled Filippo Mosetti Casaretto, Jordan Barrow and Jordan Harper to the starting line-up while Ellis Healing and Newton were given their debuts as international and work commitmens forced The Ancients’ manager into a raft of changes.
But Newton’s bow for the club was shortlived as, in the fifth minute, he lunged in on Llanfair goalkeeper Chris Brown with both feet off the floor and gave referee Tom Williams no other option to brandish the red card.
Despite the early setback Druids stayed in the ascendency, forcing the home defence into clearing their lines for throw-ins.
In the 14th minute Mike Pritchard’s curling ball found Harper’s head, but the striker could only direct his attempt wide of goal.
Five minutes later, though, Druids were in front.
Harper was released through and, although he was forced slightly wide by Matthew Spencer, he managed to get a shot on target which Brown could only parry across goal and Steve Blenkinsop was on hand to turn home the ball at the far post.
The visitors continued pressing after going in front as Fisnik Hajdari scuffed a shot wide in the 24th minute.
Hajdari came to his side’s rescue at the other end three minutes later when he was able to prevent Davies from getting in a shot following a quick Llanfair counter attack.
Back at the Llanfair end Pritchard saw a shot deflected over the bar on the half-hour before the tide started to turn in favour of the hosts.
In the 33rd minute Davies was gifted time and space eight yards out after Druids were unable to clear their lines. The striker made no mistake in beating Mosetti and finding the back of the net.
With five minutes of the half remaining Corey Roper’s pass was intercepted which launched another Llanfair counter.
Although Barrow won the ball, he was robbed of it by Andrew Hughes who then held off Hajdari’s pressure only to screw his shot wide of the far post.
But there was to be no let off just 20 seconds into the second half as Hughes was released down the left and his low, square pass found Davies who tapped home from close range to put the hosts in front.
Druids looked to get back level immediately as Harper was through one-v-one with Brown, but the home ‘keeper was able to save with his legs.
Druids maintained a patient build up in the 51st minute which saw Hajdari release Harper inside the penalty area, only for his shot to be held at a comfortable height by Brown.
The game was held up for a few minutes because of a worrying looking injury to home forward Nashwen Blake, who was unable to continue and was replaced by Alan Hughes in the 57th minute. It was a change that paid instant dividends.
Hughes was allowed to break down the right two minutes after his introduction. He found Luke Gethin who saw his shot parried by Mosetti. The ball came back to him and he chipped up the ball and Hughes was first to meet it and head home for his side’s third.
Harper had an opportunity to reduce the arrears in the 74th minute when Barrow’s long ball forward was missed by the striker’s marker and, with Brown off his line, had the chance to try a chip. However, he tried to control the ball and saw his effort blocked by the recovering defender.
Three minutes later Druids came close to pulling a goal back as Pritchard’s curling chip was narrowly missed by Barrow’s jump, but Brown was still forced to get down to make a good save, allowing the hosts to break, but an audacious shot from distance was easily gathered by Mosetti.
But, with eight minutes remaining, Druids’ misery was completed as Hughes again supplied from the left and Davies was there to guide his header into the bottom corner of the net to complete his hat-trick.
Llanfair United - 4
James Davies '33, '46, '82
Alan Hughes '59
Cefn Druids - 1
Steve Blenkinsop '19