Henton the hero as Bridge win penalty shootout

2019 Eddie Merry Cup winners Merlins Bridge


Eddie Merry Cup Final:


Merlins Bridge 1 - Monkton Swifts 1 (Merlins Bridge win 5-3 on penalties)


Referee: Sean O’Connor

Assistants: Bernie Armstrong & Andrew Davies


Venue: Tregroes Park, Fishguard

Bridge captain Chris Ormond holds the 2019 Eddie Merry Cup aloftMerlins Bridge are the 2019 winners of the Eddie Merry Memorial Cup after the Senior Cup and West Wales Cup winners came through a tense penalty shoot-out against league champs Monkton Swifts.

Their hero was keeper Ben Henton, who saved The Swifts’ third spot-kick whilst all The Wizards penalty takers were on target. He flung himself to his left to push Ben Nicholas’s effort around the post – after Nicholas had played so well at the back for the losers.

Watchable match in dire conditions

It was easy to see why these two were the top sides last season as they somehow conspired to produce a watchable match in quite abject weather conditions at Tregroes Park, which held up well in view of the pouring rain alongside strong cross winds. Indeed, the game was in some doubt until two hours before kick-off and then Fishguard Sports’ organisers Owen Duggan and Nigel Davies rightly decided that the 35th playing of this competition should go ahead.

The Bridge beat the host club 4-2 and Merlins Bridge edged through by 3-2 against Ceredigion champions St Dogmaels to set up this tussle, which was well refereed by Sean O’Connor, with Bernie Armstrong and Andrew Davies a great help in running the lines.

Action aplenty from the outset

There was action from the kick-off as Monkton striker James Russell did well to rise above The Wizards’ defence in the first minute but his header was saved by Ben Henton – and when play swung to the other end Nathan Greene missed a clear headed chance from a long throw-in by Andrew John.

There were loud appeals for a penalty when The Wizards thought Will Haworth had been bundled over in the box but after ref O’Connor had waved play on The Swifts had another chance via Russell but his mishit volley was tipped over the bar by Henton.

Nathan Greene headed another chance from Luke Hayward’s corner and The Wizards lost Gethin Roberts through injury but had an equally influential midfielder in Dai Davies up their sleeve – but the first half ended scoreless.

Thomas puts Wizards ahead but Davies hauls Swifts level

The third quarter was very much a cat and mouse affair but play inevitably opened up as tiredness crept in and chances came thick and fast, especially after Merlins Bridge had taken the lead when Will Haworth latched on to a partial clearance from a corner and flighted in the perfect left-foot cross for Peter Thomas to do well and plant his header wide of Stuart James’ outstretched right arm.

The Swifts responded immediately as good work by Russell and Martin Carroll saw the latter in space near the far post but placing his shot just the wrong side of the upright – but deservedly drawing level when an excellent left-flank cross by Ryan Griffiths saw Dylan Davies round off a good performance with the final touch past Henton before both teams had other missed chances to snatch the verdict, before taking the game into extra time.

Referee Sean O ConnorPenalty Shoot Out


1-0: Peter Thomas thundered the ball in for Merlins Bridge

1-1: Ben Steele calmly slotted home

2-1: Simon Gilderdale sent Stuart James the wrong way

2-2: James Russell – no nonsense – a straight down the middle job!

3-2: Luke Hayward – another wrong-footing penalty with all the calm in the world!

3-2: Ben Nicholas - into the corner but Henton judged the right side to go

4-2: Will Haworth – perfectly judged by the youngest player – just rolled it in with panache!

4-3: Dylan Davies – sent keeper the wrong way

5-3: Entrusted to Lee Hudgell and the old timer planted it low to his right – game over!

‘Ormy’ raises the Merry Cup aloft

The presentation was undertaken by Owen Duggan, who has done so much to keep the competition alive, and Sports’ president Nigel Davies presented the medals to very cold and wet players and match officials, with Merlins Bridge skipper Chris Ormond raising the trophy aloft after his outstanding performance at the back for the delighted winners.

As usual, all the money raised at the three games will be donated to the Abergwaun Gateway Club.

Merlins Bridge: Ben Henton: Andrew John; Chris Ormond; Simon Gilderdale; Lee Hudgell: Gethin Roberts; Peter Thomas; Luke Hayward: Jordan Williams; Nathan Greene; Will Haworth. Substitutes: Dai Davies; Nathan Thomas; Ben Davies.

Monkton Swifts: Stuart James: Ben Nicholas; Shaun Jones; Ben Steele; Rhodri Davies: Martyn Carroll; Thomas Powell; Blake James; Chris Richards: James Russell; Dylan Davies. Substitutes: Jamie Wilkes; Ryan Griffiths.

2019 Eddie Merry runners up Monkton Swifts