Neyland Welsh Cup dream flounders after a terrific performance

Winners AmmanfordNeyland line up before the start

Welsh Cup Final:


Ammanford (209-9) beat Neyland (158 all out) by 51 runs

Venue: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
Umpires: Rob Miles (Swansea, but formerly of Newport Pembs) and Simon Green (Rhymney)
Scorers: John Laugharne and Gary Phillips
Winning Ammanford captain Alun Evans with his son and glassware trophyNeyland Cricket Club hopes of becoming the first-ever club from Pembrokeshire to win the Welsh Cup foundered after a wholehearted effort, and it was Ammanford who were crowned champions at Sophia Gardens.
Neyland previously reached the final in 1974 when current scorer John Laugharne played and on another momentous occasion for both teams, Sean Hannon’s side still had ample reason to be proud after restricting the South Wales outfit to 209-9 in 40 overs; and the contest was in the balance for much of their run chase before Mathew Fisher took four wickets in as many balls to reduce Neyland from 157-5 to 158 all out as the run rate had climbed.

Hannon shines with ball and gloves

The day began in glorious sunshine at Sophia Gardens, and it was Hannon, who had frantically re-arranged flights to Italy for his twin brother Patrick’s next-day wedding in Venice to play in the final, who won the toss and opted to field.
And like in the semi-final, it was the skipper who forsook his wicket-keeper’s gloves and took the new ball - and and thanks to him and Nathan Banner, Ammanford were tied down early on before Ellis Richards broke the shackles in the third over with back to back boundaries.
Ellis drove for four again in the fifth over but just two balls later, Hannon had his first victim as the opener miscued to Patrick Bellerby, who took a sharp catch driving forward in the covers.

Two Rhodris lead comeback before departing . . .

It meant Rhodri R Davies was joined by namesake Rhys A Davies at the crease, and the latter survived a run out scare at the non-striker’s end after the ball deflected off Banner onto the stumps.
He then got going as he drove Hannon to the fence and Rhodri R, tentative early on, took Banner for back to back fours in the 8thover – but was given a life off the same bowler after Gary Lloyd put down a chance in the slips.
The pair continued to build, Rhodri R clipping two more boundaries off Banner as Ammanford reached 54-1 in 12 overs, but it was then the tide turned Neyland’s way.
Rhodri A reached 21 before getting a bottom edge onto his stumps, giving Hannon his second wicket, and two became three for the Neyland captain as Rhodri R was soon skittled for 12 - and when Ammanford skipper Alun Evans chipped tamely to Ashley Sutton at square leg for a duck, Hannon had four wickets and at 60-4, Neyland were in the driving seat.

Maloney and Fisher start the Ammanford recovery

Craig Maloney topped scored for AmmanfordBut Craig Maloney and Fisher refused to panic, and their stand of 92 proved match-defining after they built steadily at first before accelerating the rate as the innings drew on, with Fisher stroking five fours in his 47 before trying to advance down the track to Geraint Rees, only to be stumped off a leg side wide by the tireless Hannon, who had taken the gloves off George Evans after bowling out his eight overs.
Maloney pressed on though, and cracked Rees to the boundary to pass 50, joined by Matthew Roberts who hit two lovely early fours off the same bowler as Ammanford took 18 off the 36th over, moving the score to 177-5.

Roberts survived an uncharacteristic difficult drop by Gregg Miller in the deep, but it didn’t prove costly as brother Andrew snaffled the same batsmen on the boundary next ball to give Rees a second wicket.

Challenging target set

Maloney meanwhile, pushed on to make 64 (seven fours) before he holed out to Banner on the boundary off veteran Gary Lloyd, to huge cheers from the vociferous Neyland supporters to leave Ammanford on 198-7 going into the last over, and Josef Davies added vital late runs with two ‘Dilshan’ scoops for four.
But the last two balls were wickets as Gareth Slade was run out pushing for a second, and then Rees drew a nick behind off Matthew Davies as Hannon took a smart catch standing up to the stumps, meaning he was directly involved in seven of the nine Ammanford dismissals.

It left Ammanford on 209-9, setting up a tough but do-able run chase for the Pembrokeshire side despite missing key men Paul Murray, Nick Koomen, and Henry Durrant meant a re-jigging of the usual Neyland batting order, but there was no shortage of experience as Patrick Bellerby and Gregg Miller opened the reply.

Gregg unlucky to go early as Neyland start slowly

Gregg Miller is trapped LBWAfter tight early bowling from Fisher and Sean Coaker, who was at Narberth CC as a junior, the first big blow came three overs in.

It was left armer Fisher who rapped Miller high on the pads, although the latter looked mystified as he departed LBW for a duck. Photographic evidence later suggested he had a point.
Ammanford kept the pressure on though with their bowlers right on the money, and it wasn’t until the 10th over that Bellerby hit the first boundary, driving Coaker to the fence.
Andrew Miller got underway by cutting Matthew Davies for four, but he and Bellerby struggled to cut loose as Neyland moved to 55-1 at the half way point, meaning 165 was needed off the last 20 overs. Crucially though, they still had nine wickets in hand.

Bellerby cuts lose for fine 50 but departs at a key time

Openere Patrick Bellerby top scored for NeylandBellerby began to motor by taking both Roberts and Evans for boundaries, but he soon lost his partner as the former removed Miller as he hooked to Coaker in the deep – the youngster taking a great catch on the move.
That brought in Ashley Sutton and he and Bellerby began to rotate the strike well as Neyland fought to get up with the rate, and the new man cracked what proved the only six of the day, hammering spinner Josef Davies to cow corner.
Bellerby meanwhile reached 50 (three fours) with a single, but it proved his last contribution as he took aim off Davies, but didn’t connect properly and the safe hands of Fisher did the rest.
And when Sutton fell for 19, stumped by Slade off the same bowler, Neyland were 105-4 and on the ropes so it meant the partnership between Scott Jones and Banner was going to be crucial, and the latter meant business as he cracked four quick boundaries to reach 21, but Neyland’s sudden momentum was checked when he was bowled by Fisher, back on bowling spin after his earlier seam.

Roberts kills off Neyland hopes

Ashley Sutton struck the only sixBut Jones wasn’t giving in and hit two fours off Fisher in the 35th over to take the score to 147-5, meaning Neyland needed 63 off 30 balls for a dramatic win.

That became 53 in 26 balls as another boundary moved Jones to 26 not out, but then Evans chose to re-introduce the slow stuff of Roberts for the 37th over, and boy did it pay dividends
as he bowled George Evans (5) first ball, and then trapped Hannon LBW first ball to move to the brink of a hat trick - and he duly got it, removing Steve Murray in the same fashion to effectively seal the silverware.
But he wasn’t done yet, taking four wickets in as many balls as Rees was also trapped in front, giving Roberts a memorable 5 for 3 haul.
Last man Gary ‘Gadgy’ Lloyd then came out to a huge ovation from the Neyland faithful, an appearance at Sophia fitting reward for one of the club’s outstanding servants, but when in the next over he gave a return catch to Davies, the final was over and the Ammanford celebrations began.

Ammanford captain Alun celebrates but skipper Sean sets off for London – and Venice!

Cup organiser Steve Watkin performed the post-match formalities and it was Fisher, who made 47 before returning 2-33, who took the man of the match award.
And after Hannon and co received their medals, to go with memories of an historic cup run, it was former Dinas batsman Evans and co who lifted the trophy to celebrate a memorable season, as they added the Welsh Cup to their SWCA T20 success at the same venue.
Hannon is unlikely to forget the game either because almost immediately after the match he was joined by wife Kirsty and young daughter Luna in a trip to London, a short stay in a hotel, a flight from Stanstead Airport to Venice – and then turning up at Patrick’s wedding!
Ammanford Batting:
Rhodri R Davies b Sean Hannon 12
Ellis Richards ct Scott Jones b Sean Hannon 13
Rhodri A Davies b Sean Hannon 21
Mathew Fisher st Sean Hannon b Geraint Rees 47
Alun Evans ct Ashley Sutton b Sean Hannon 0
Craig Maloney ct Nathan Banner b Gary Lloyd 64
Matthew Roberts ct Andrew Miller b Geraint Rees 22
Josef Davies not out 10
Gareth Slade run out 2
Matthew Davies ct Sean Hannon b Geraint Rees 0
Extras 18
Total (9 wickets) 209
Welsh Cup Final umpires Rob Miles and Simon GreenNeyland Bowling: Sean Hannon 8-0-31-4; Nathan Banner 8-1-34 0; Andrew Miller 8-0-35- 0; Geraint Rees 8-0-61-3; Gary Lloyd 8-0-49-1
Neyland Batting:
Patrick Bellerby ct Mathew Fisher b Josef Davies 50
Gregg Miller lbw b Mathew Fisher 0
Andrew Miller ct Shaun Coaker b Matthew Roberts 31
Ashley Sutton st Gareth Slade b Josef Davies 19
Nathan Banner b Mathew Fisher 21
Scott Jones not out 28
George Evans st Gareth Slade b Matthew Roberts 5
Sean Hannon LBW b Matthew Roberts 0
Steve Murray lbw b Matthew Roberts 0
Geraint Rees lbw b Matthew Roberts 0
Gary Lloyd ct & b Josef Davies 0
Extras 4
Total (all out) 154
Ammanford Bowling: Mathew Fisher 8-0-33-2; Shaun Coaker 7-0- 14-0; Matthew Davies 5-1-18-0; Alun Evans 5-0-23-0; Matthew Roberts 5-0-33-5; Josef Davies 6.4-0-34-3