Two goals down with a player sent off and over half the game still to play things looked bleak for Glantraeth at Buckley but no-one could have predicted the magnificent second half fightback that seemed to have secured the points only for them to be cruelly snatched away during added time.
On a difficult pitch, frozen in places, Glantraeth went behind after just six minutes as Mark Roberts all too easily got behind the visitor’s back line and with keeper Marc Newbould stranded he had the easy job of lifting the ball into the empty net.
After this early set back Glan began to pass the ball around well and Alan Jones headed wide from a Paul Rowlands cross on 11 minutes and five minutes later should have done better as he met a Chris Evans’ corner kick unchallenged at the near post but his effort failed to find the target.
Chris Evans cut in from the left on 21 minutes and drilled in a low shot that was only inches wide as the Bodorgan boys continued to look the better side and three minutes later a ball in from Paul Rowlands was half cleared leaving Kevin Roberts with a shooting opportunity but he couldn’t keep the ball down and it passed harmlessly over. A brilliant run from Darren Jones was almost met by Gerallt Jones but after all this pressure it was again the more direct approach of the home side that paid dividends on 27 minutes as a free kick from Joe Garner was headed in off the underside of the bar by John Dowridge.
For all their good football Glan had looked vulnerable to the quick break during the opening half-hour and things got worse seven minutes before the break as Gerallt Jones was cautioned for arguing with the referee and as he continued to exchange words he received a second yellow and was dismissed.
Things didn’t look good for Glantraeth as within a minute of the restart Adam Renshaw struck the crossbar for Buckley then Jamie McNeal fired wide from a good position but the visitors were continuing to play the more controlled football.
Despite being a man down Glan were battling for everything led by stand-in skipper Darren Jones who was having an outstanding game in midfield. Following a corner kick Emyr Rowlands had a shot blocked then David Hughes covered well at the other end to clear a dangerous situation after McNeal’s header had beaten keeper Marc Newbould.
Home keeper Louis Makin was living dangerously with some poor kicking under pressure and luck was on Buckley’s side as twice they came close to being punished with David Alan Jones firing over after picking up one loose ball.
The visitors were now dominating possession and another fine passing move on 57 minutes ended with Adam Jones swinging the ball in for David Alan Jones to head over. Even with a two goal cushion Buckley were looking anything but comfortable although one long distance effort from Joe Garner was only a couple of feet high.
On 64 minutes Glan finally got some reward as David Alan Jones broke through the middle and as the ball ran free on the edge of the area Paul Rowlands fired home into the bottom corner. There were heroes at both ends of the field for Glan and a minute later only a brilliant tackle from Emyr Rowlands prevented Mark Roberts breaking clear.
Buckley were now firmly on the back foot and as Paul Rowlands cut in from the right in the 67th minute he was tripped and Kevin Roberts easily beat Makin with the spot kick.
The game had now really opened up and it took a fine save from keeper Marc Newbould to flick over a shot from Buckley substitute Ryan Butcher then David Alan Jones twice went close in as many minutes, heading over a David Hughes cross then shooting too high after breaking clear but the Glantraeth striker got his reward for an afternoon of selfless running with four minutes remaining as an almighty scramble in the Buckley goalmouth ended with Jones getting the final touch to put the visitors ahead in what was proving a quite remarkable game.
It had been a quite magnificent recovery by Glantraeth against all the odds but their season was just about summed up as they were cruelly robbed of victory in added time. With the game entering its 91st minute a Buckley attack gave Ryan Butcher a shooting chance that had power but not direction only for the shot to seemingly cannon off defender Emyr Rowlands into the net for the most fortunate of goals. If that wasn’t bad enough two minutes later Adam Renshaw swept the ball home to give Buckley an unlikely three points. The referee’s decision to end the game before another ball was kicked didn’t go down well with the visiting contingent and David Alan Jones was red-carded after exchanging words with the match official.
Credit to Buckley for keeping going right to the bitter end but this was day that will be remembered for Glantraeth’s magnificent fightback and to leave with nothing after such an effort was a hard pill to swallow.
Manager Gareth Roberts learned a great deal about the players in his squad on Saturday. Every one of those ten players who staged that remarkable second half recovery gave their all with David Hughes a perfect example. The right back was playing in the Caernarfon & District League only a few weeks back but he covered every blade of grass on the right flank as he produced his best performance since joining the club.