TRIPS to Llandudno Junction haven’t gone to plan for Denbigh Town this season.
Eddie Maurice-Jones took his side to the Arriva Ground for the second time in two weeks, this time for second round clash in the JD Welsh Cup.
A fortnight earlier, they had been on the receiving end of a heavy 4-0 loss in the Huws Gray Cup and last weekend’s contest also went the way of Junction.
Liam Smith started in defence for Denbigh, with Rakim Newton dropping to the bench as Town adopted a 3-5-2 system, with Jake Eyre and Josh Davies up front.
The tie started well for the visitors, who went into an early 1-0 lead.
Just three minutes had been played when Dan Sullivan blasted the ball home from six yards following a corner.
The Railwaymen responded well to this setback and they had the better chances in a well-contested first half, with Town forced into some desperate clearances.
Liam Smith cleared off the Town line from a Junction header, while both Courtnell and Eden had opportunities to equalise, but their shots went wide of Jon Hill-Dunt’s goal.
At the other end, Denbigh had chances to stretch their lead, with Jake Eyre running onto a long ball from Hill-Dunt, only for his cross to be blocked for a corner.
From Gareth Partridge’s flag kick, Warren Duckett saw his header being fingertipped over the bar by Junction keeper Keighan Jones.
As Town continued to press, Joe Culshaw’s corner fell to Sullivan on the edge of the box and his fierce shot beat Jones, but it struck the post.
Ben Nash was the first to the rebound and his shot was well blocked by Jones.
These misses proved costly as Junction equalised minutes later.
Keiran Davies beat the Town defenders in the air to head home on 32 minutes.
Denbigh responded well and Craig Pritchard worked hard to force Jones into another save.
Immediately after the interval, Pritchard’s overhead kick from a Partridge cross was saved by Jones and soon after, Josh Davies ran onto a Matt Cook ball, only for keeper Jones to run outside his box and clear.
Davies was proving to be a handful and he worked hard to get to the Junction touchline, but no other attacker was able to capitalise on an excellent cross.
Davies’ hard work paid off on the hour.
After great work by Pritchard, the ball fell to Davies and he was fouled in the penalty area.
Davies made no mistake from the spot to put Denbigh 2-1 up.
Denbigh now appeared in control of the tie and they had several opportunities to extend their lead.
Sullivan’s free kick was well saved and Davies set up Craig Pritchard, whose shot was inches wide.
Pritchard then returned the favour by setting up a golden chance for Davies to wrap things up, but after some great work as he beat defenders, his shot went well over.
This proved costly on 84 minutes as Junction’s Dean Seager beat Denbigh’s offside trap and lobbed the ball over Hill-Dunt’s head for the equaliser.
Neither team was able to find the winner in normal time and extra time was required to settle the tie.
The home side claimed the lead for the first time in the 93rd minute.
From a corner, central defender Jordan Carrington jumped higher than the Denbigh defenders to head home.
Davies and Swarbrick both had chances in the first period of extra time to draw level, but Junction’s defensive partnership of Carrington and Davies held firm, ably supported by keeper Jones, who made some more telling saves.
As the tie entered the second period of extra time, Junction should have extended their lead from the spot, but Joel Hewitt’s effort was saved by Hill-Dunt.
After this, several chances fell to Denbigh’s attackers, but they could not find that final ball or shot on target.
See full story in the Free Press