Alliance hopefuls seeking to bounce back in Cup clash
BANGOR City entertain Holyhead Hotspur in a much-awaited Welsh Cup third round battle at Nantporth this Friday (7.45pm kick-off ).
The all-Huws Gray Alliance tie will evoke fond memories for Hotspur of their last meeting with the Citizens in Wales’ top knockout competition.
In this same December week three years ago, underdogs Holyhead beat then Welsh Premier side Bangor 2-1 at the New Stadium thanks to goals from Rhys Roberts and Dean Garmey.
As was the case on that momentous evening, Hotspur will again be second favourites to progress on Friday, Darren Garmey’s men currently lying bottom of the HGA with City much higher up in fourth spot.
Nonetheless, Bangor will take on the Holy Islanders on the back of a 2-1 loss at Rhyl last weekend - a result which ended a run of nine successive wins for Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s men.
Hotspur, meanwhile, were also beaten at the weekend, 2-0 at leaders Airbus, but one plus for Garmey’s hopefuls is the fact their cup performances have been much better than their league displays this term.
Holyhead held the Wingmakers for 77 minutes before Leo Riley and Joe Chaplin struck to stretch the table-toppers winning run to 14 matches.
New Citizens boss Taylor-Fletcher lamented his side’s showing at Rhyl, and assured fans he will be “putting his stamp” on the squad in training this week.
“I’m all about positivity and come Wednesday we’ll be training a little bit different, we’ll have a bit more of an understanding about how I want us to play, keeping to how they have been but with a few little tweaks,” he said.
Rhyl took a 24th minute lead through James Murphy’s powerful finish, while Mike Pritchard and Gareth Partridge had great opportunities to add further home goals before the break.
Bangor were much improved in the second half, Mike Williams seeing his header cleared off the line before in the 75th minute Alex Darlington pounced to equalise after Jon Hill-Dunt parried substitute Sam Jones’ effort.
Just four minutes later, however, Max Peate glanced home a Joe Culshaw free kick to win it for the Lilywhites, Mike Williams striking a post for the Citizens in the closing stages.
Taylor-Fletcher said afterwards: “In the first half Rhyl outworked us, out-battled us, were first to everything and we stood off them too much.
“In the second half we changed it, we wanted to go a little bit higher, a bit more high tempo and we got the reaction we wanted. We got a foothold in the game, started on top, got the goal back - all that hard work and then to concede like that was soul-destroying.”
The City boss expects better on Friday with a place in the last 16 of the Welsh Cup up for grabs.
“We’re at home and we’ve got to be looking to dominate from the off,” he said.
“I used to love playing on our pitch and if players can’t get up for an occasion like Friday then they won’t be here long.”
Bangor hope to have defender Anthony Stephens back available for the first time since he suffered a bad facial injury in a 2-0 victory over Penrhyncoch at the end of October.
Holyhead Hotspur goalkeeper Dan Williams produced this flying save from Asa Hamilton at Airbus last Saturday