Centre stage for the JD Welsh Cup round 1

Baglan Dragons and Caersws will be hoping that the Manager of the Month curse doesn’t bring an early end to their JD Welsh Cup ambitions this weekend when they take on lower league opponents as Round 1 of the competition takes place across the country.

The clubs from the JD Cymru South and JD Cymru North have enjoyed impressive starts to their respective league campaigns and their July and August form has been recognised accordingly. Baglan Dragons achieved back-to-back promotions under manager Carl Clement and were undefeated in their opening five games of the new JD Cymru South season prior to their 2-1 defeat to Llanelli last weekend.

Currently sitting in 7th place in the table with 11 points from their opening six games, Baglan Dragons turn their attentions to the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday as they host FC Cwmaman at the Evans Bevans Playing Fields (2pm).

FC Cwmaman are two divisions below their opponents in the Premier Division of the Highadmit Projects South Wales Alliance League, but came through the qualifying rounds of the JD Welsh Cup with a huge 11-0 win over FC Tredegar before edging a nine-goal thriller with Garden Village 5-4 in the last round.

There was a double celebration for Caersws as the management team of Mark Griffiths and Luke Williams were rewarded for their 10-point haul during July and August, while young striker Rhys Hesden picked up the Player of the Month award in the JD Cymru North.

The 20-year old former Newtown striker, who played for Llanidloes Town on-loan last season, has scored seven goals in all competitions this season and will be looking to score his first in the JD Welsh Cup this weekend when his side travel to Brickfield Rangers.

The Tier 3 side from Wrexham are currently mid-table in the Lock Stock Ardal North West, but are yet to concede a goal in the JD Welsh Cup having defeated Saltney Town 3-0 and Rhuddlan Town 5-0 during the qualifying rounds.

Teenager Jay Richardson scored a hat-trick in the latter tie and added a brace to his collective tally in midweek when his side went down to a 5-4 defeat against Rhostyllen in the NEWFA Cup. 

Home advantage will be key for Gareth Wilson’s side, and the manager has his own JD Welsh Cup history during a playing career highlighted by his important role in Rhyl’s famous domestic treble in 2003/04 as well as Prestatyn Town’s one and only success in the competition a decade ago.

There is no doubt that those memories will return this weekend as a total of 72 clubs look to move a step further to the 135th JD Welsh Cup Final.

Five of the 36 weekend ties will take place on Friday night, and JD Cymru Premier veteran Wyn Thomas will be hoping that his experience can inspire Ammanford AFC to progress at home to JD Cymru South rivals Taffs Well (7.30pm).

A JD Welsh Cup winner with Llanelli in 2010/11, Thomas made a record 536 appearances in the domestic top-flight, and is now assistant manager at Ammanford. The 44-year old defender has not called time on his playing career yet though, and has a handful of substitute appearances and a goal to his name already this season. 

There will also be some JD Welsh Cup memories at Belle Vue on Saturday when CPD Y Rhyl 1879 take on Menai Bridge Tigers.

Formed in 2020 following the demise of Rhyl FC, the phoenix club continue to play at the spiritual home of the four-times winners, and another run in the JD Welsh Cup would hold a special place for those who remember the glory days.

On a similar theme, Bangor 1876 visit Holyhead Hotspur on Friday night, and their fans are no doubt already dreaming of bringing the trophy back to the city one day.

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