Connah’s Quay Nomads will occupy the unfamiliar surroundings of away changing room at The Essity Stadium on Saturday evening as the live Sgorio cameras head to Flint Town United for a JD Welsh Cup R4 tie where home advantage will count for little.
Both teams play their home games at the same venue and both are challenging at the top of their respective leagues in what should be an intriguing encounter. Neil Gibson’s Nomads currently trail leaders The New Saints by six points in the JD Cymru Premier, while Flint Town United sit third and are undefeated in the JD Cymru North as they look to make an immediate return to the domestic top-flight under manager Lee Fowler.
Gibson won the JD Welsh Cup as manager of Prestatyn Town in 2012/13 and his current Nomads side warmed-up for Saturday in style last weekend with a 7-0 victory over Barry Town United. However, they are not the only team finding the back of the net at The Essity Stadium this season, as Flint Town United are the second highest-scorers in the JD Cymru North and claimed an incredible 9-4 win over Llanidloes Town at home last month.
The New Saints have restored their dominance on the competition in recent years and have won the JD Welsh Cup in each of the last three campaigns. A potentially difficult trip to Carmarthen Town’s LHP Stadium is their reward for defeating Trethomas Bluebirds in the last round though, and despite their opponents currently playing in the JD Cymru South, manager Craig Harrison will not be taking them lightly this weekend.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” said Harrison earlier this week. “We’ve had the opportunity to see them. They have a lot of experience in manager Mark Aizlewood and we won’t take it lightly. We’re looking forward to going down there.” Aizlewood has his own history in the competition having lost two finals as a player with Cardiff City and Cwmbran Town 1993/94 and 1999/00 respectively, and having beaten Evans & Williams FC and Abertillery Bluebirds to reach this stage, his players will need to be at their very best for the challenge of the current cup holders.
There will be a large crowd in attendance for the only Friday night tie of the round when the top two teams in the JD Cymru South meet at the Old Road as Briton Ferry Llansawel host league leaders Llanelli Town. Visiting manager Lee John and his side have impressed many this season and made light work of Llantwit Major before a claiming a JD Cymru Premier scalp with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Penybont to setup this tie against Andy Dyer’s outfit, who edged past JD Cymru North leaders Airbus UK Broughton in the last round.
There are two all-JD Cymru Premier ties in the last 16 as Haverfordwest County host Cardiff Met while struggling duo Colwyn Bay and Barry Town United will look to put their respective league form aside when they meet at the Bay’s Four Crosses Construction Arena. Barry Town United won the corresponding league match 1-0 back in October through a goal from Kayne McLaggon, while Haverfordwest County and Cardiff Met played out a 1-1 draw at the Bridge Meadow Stadium at the end of November.
Porthmadog and Buckley Town also drew 1-1 in the JD Cymru North at the start of the season and there is little to be expected between the two sides again on Saturday with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. Meanwhile, Bala Town will be strong favourites against JD Cymru South side Caerau Ely but manager Colin Caton, who won the trophy with Bala in 2016/17, will make sure his side are fully-prepared for what could be a potential upset as they travel down to their Tier 2 opponents.
Incredibly, there will be one club from Tier 3 guaranteed to be in the quarter-finals of the JD Welsh Cup as Flint Mountain take on South Gower at Park Hall. It has been a memorable JD Welsh Cup journey for both teams already, but only one has at least another chapter left to write after this weekend.
Having played four and five ties each respectively in the competition this season, both teams will be dreaming of making club history on what will be another special day for them. That is the real magic of the JD Welsh Cup.
Follow all of the Round 4 action live on the Cymru Football App. Click here to download the app.