Excitement builds for Kinmel Bay and Cardiff Wanderers ahead of Bute Energy U16s Cup final

Kinmel Bay U15s and Cardiff Wanderers U16s Reds meet on Sunday in the Bute Energy U16s Cup Final – a big occasion to crown fine seasons for both sides.

Cardiff Wanderers Reds are top of their league, unbeaten all season, and with a remarkable goal difference of +72. Coming off the back of a brilliant campaign in 2022/23, when they won the treble, they’ve got into a winning habit – and would love to crown the end of their junior football with a cup win.

“The last two years have been fantastic,” says coach Martyn Jones. “They’re an incredible bunch, all fantastic individuals, and they’re a great team. They play for each other. We’ve had difficult games but that team spirit has taken us through.”

Kinmel Bay sit second in their league, with a spectacular 71 goals scored, thanks in no small part to Lexi Walsh – who has scored at least one goal in every single match in every competition since mid-October, including six in the 7-2 semi-final win over Talycopa AFC U16s.

“Her ability to consistently find the back of the net not only boosts the team’s confidence but also provides them with a reliable source of goals,” says manager Frank Standing.

“However, it’s essential to recognise that while Lexi’s goals catch the eye, football is a team sport, and her success is a reflection of the team’s overall performance, including teamwork, strategy, and support from other players.”

The Kinmel Bay squad have been together for a long time, which goes some way to explaining their brilliant results this season as well as their strong chemistry.

Frank also puts it down to the kind of club Kinmel Bay is, describing the culture as “characterised by mutual respect, support, and a shared commitment to excellence, fosters an environment where players of all abilities feel valued, motivated, and empowered to perform at their best.”

Both squads are experiencing a mix of nerves and excitement ahead of the big match – and their coaches hope they’ll use it to fuel their performance. Regardless, though, they hope their girls have a great time in the spotlight at Latham Park.

“The girls are looking forward to their big day,” says Martyn, who adds that since their 3-1 semi-final win over Johnstown AFC U16s, all eyes have been on the final.

“It is more important that the girls enjoy the game and the whole experience of getting this far regardless of the result,” agrees Frank.

The 2024 Bute Energy U16s Cup final between Kinmel Bay and Cardiff Wanderers takes place at Latham Park in Newtown on Sunday 14 April (KO 12:30).

Entry is £2 for adults and free for concessions. It is cash only on the gate and the price also covers admission to the FAW Youth Cup final later in the day.

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