SATURDAY provided a day of shocks in the Huws Gray Cup.
Top-three sides Caernarfon Town and Holywell Town were both defeated in the first round of this season’s competition, by Porthmadog and Flint Town United respectively.
And fourth-placed Denbigh Town were also dumped out of the cup on the back of a heavy 4-0 reverse at basement side Llandudno Junction, who celebrated their first win of the season.
Town travelled to Junction in a confident mood after a run of six wins on the bounce, but that soon came to an abrupt halt as Storm Brian hit North Wales.
Denbigh boss Eddie Maurice-Jones was without four regulars for a variety of reasons, but he was still able to name a strong team with plenty of experience.
It was Llandudno Junction who were on the front foot right from the opening whistle.
Adam Eden made a run into the Denbigh penalty area and crashed a shot against the post in the first minute.
This signalled the start of sustained pressure from the hosts, as the Denbigh goal was peppered with shots.
After weathering this pressure, Denbigh began to play the ball around and they created an opening for Liam Smith, whose shot was saved.
As this promising spell continued, Josh Davies crossed for Warren Duckett to plant a firm header straight at the Llandudno Junction goalkeeper.
After eight minutes, Andrew Swarbrick raced through into the penalty box and while he was rounding the goalkeeper, he went down under a challenge.
Referee Michael Gray deemed it to be a dive, though, and he booked the protesting Denbigh striker.
Town were well on top at this point as Dan Sullivan fired in a free kick from 20 yards, which was well saved by the increasingly busy Junction goalkeeper.
However, Denbigh once again proved to be the architects of their own misfortune when after 16 minutes, a defensive error resulted in Llandudno Junction being awarded a free kick on the edge of the box.
A deflection from the set-piece saw visiting keeper Jon Hill-Dunt being wrong-footed and Junction took the lead, with Leigh Craven being credited with the goal.
Understandably, this unsettled Denbigh and Junction had their tails up as they pushed forward.
Their enterprise was rewarded again on 21 minutes as striker Connor Tierney stole in at the far post to crash home after a shot was initially saved by Hill-Dunt.
As the weather deteriorated even further, the game became a battle of attrition and the conditions made any attempt at controlled football impossible.
Just as the half-time whistle was approaching, Junction scored their third goal.
A quick break led to Dean Seager rounding Hill-Dunt and passing the ball into an unguarded net.
Denbigh came out for the second half in determined mood and they created a number of half-chances, but there was no way past the Junction keeper.
Town thought they had pulled a goal back after 64 minutes, but referee Gray had already pulled play back for a Junction free kick.
Manager Maurice-Jones decided to shake things up as Sam Cartwright and Andy Thomas came on to replace Rakim Newton and Swarbrick.
The substitutions almost paid immediate dividends as Cartwright beat his man and raced into the penalty area, but he could only fire wide after rounding the goalkeeper.
A minute later and an identical move on the left side saw Josh Davies in a similar position, but also shot into the side-netting when well-placed.
This double miss seemed to drain the Denbigh players of their fight and Junction came back into the game.
The tie was finally over as a contest in the 77th minute as Leigh Craven’s corner caught the wind and sailed into the far corner of the goal.
The final 10 minutes saw a Nathan Williams shot hit both Junction posts yet stay out of the net and referee Gray ruling out another Denbigh goal with minutes left.
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