Cooke's dramatic stoppage time winner stuns ten-man Wizards

Clarbeston Road line-up

Clarbeston Road

The Merlins Bridge squad line-up

Merlins Bridge


Clarbeston Road 2 - Merlins Bridge 1

A dramatic stoppage time winner from substitute Ieuan Cooke gave Clarbeston Road a sensational Senior Cup semi final victory as they stunned ten-man Merlins Bridge on the Conygar Briddge Meadow Stadium.

The underdogs led 1-0 half time after Tom Reubens saw his shot diverted in off Bridge defender Richard Hughes, but after the latter was sent off in the second half, Chris Ormond seemingly forced extra time with a late header.

But deep in injury time, it was Cooke who fired a shot from the edge of the area that found the bottom corner via a deflection.

The Wizards went into the game on the back of just one defeat in all competitions this season, and they had the first opening three minutes in when Will Haworth’s cross was diverted into the path of Luke Hayward – but he could only volley wide from 15 yards out.

Clarbie’s first threatening attack saw Reubens taken out late by Bridge centre back Ormond, who was booked for his troubles, while at the other end Adam Hawkins was denied in the six yard box by a last ditch tackle by Dan Rees.

As the half wore on it was Bridge doing more of the pressing without ever really cutting Clarbie open, with the best chance falling to Hawkins as he turned in the area before seeing his low shot pushed round the post by Lee Scott.

The same player had another driven effort that the keeper gathered comfortably, before Clarbie showed their threat on the break when Jason Griffths broke down the left and flashed a cross right across the face of goal.

But moments later it was The Wizards' turn to execute a swift counter attack, as Matthew D’Ivry broke from his own half and released Joey George - and his deep cross was met first time by Hawkins who could only volley wide at the back post.

Deflected into own net

And then three minutes before the break, it was last season’s runners up who struck when Reubens did brilliantly to skip past Ormond and surge into the area, and from a tight angle, saw his low shot deflected into the net by Bridge defender Hughes.

The goal appeared to rattle the holders, with Dai Davies booked for clattering into Michael Turpin - but Haworth did forced Scott into action again before the break as he blocked the winger's near post shot with his legs.

Frantic pace

And Bridge began the second half at a frantic pace as Hayward broke into the area and struck a powerful shot that Scott again beat away for a corner.

But Matthew Ellis' side soon settled again, and went close themselves when Jason Griffiths got a boot to Turpin's free kick, with Bridge keeper Gary Thomas forced to push his looping effort over from under his own bar.

Bridge boss Nathan Thomas threw on Nathan Greene and switched to three at the back in search of a leveller, and after Hayward curled a corner against the bar, it was the West Wales striker who turned Tom Glover in the box and fired a low shot that Scott again did well to get down and block.

Extra space

But as The Wizards pushed men forward, Clarbie began to revel in the extra space on the break, with Matthew Davies prominent on the counter attack.

And it was Davies, booked himself early in the second half, who was then instrumental as Bridge went down to 10 men with 20 minutes left.

Hughes sent off

The midfielder was taken out by Hughes, who had been yellow carded just minutes earlier, and although referee Sean O'Connor initially played advantage, he returned to send off the defender after Reubens had shot into the side netting.

Inevitably, Clarbie proceeded to boss the possession in the minutes that followed - before The Wizards rallied again inside the closing stages.

Dai Davies teed up Hawkins in the area, whose goal bound shot was bravely blocked by Glover - and just moments later Greene's fierce angled effort bounced back off the near post.

And then with four minutes left, it was Ormond who seemingly rescued his side when he rose highest at the back post to meet Hayward's free kick - and planted his header high into the net.

The Wizards then nearly won it in dramatic fashion via another Hayward set piece, but Greene headed wastefully over from eight yards out.

But with extra time looming, it was Clarbie who then secured a second straight Senior Cup final with a remarkable late winner.

Turpin pumped a free kick from half way into the area, and the ball fell to Cooke 18 yards out - and after only being on the field a matter of minutes he fired a deflected low shot through a crowd of players that wrong footed Bridge keeper Gary Thomas.

Clarbeston Road: Lee Scott, Tom Glover, Dan Rees, Rheinallt George, Llywellyn George (Matthew Griffiths 90), Matthew Ellis, Michael Turpin, Matthew Davies (Ieuan Cooke 83), Josh Wood, Jason Griffiths, Tom Reubens (Steffan Thomas 77). 

Merlins Bridge: Gary Thomas, Matthew D'Ivry, Chris Ormond, Richard Hughes, Andrew John, Simon Thomas (Nathan Greene 55), Luke Hayward, Dai Davies, Will Haworth (Curtis Hicks 79), Joey George, Adam Hawkins.
Sub not used: Scott Murray.

Referee: Sean O'Connor.

Assistants: Gareth Elliott and Steve Williams.

Fourth official: Keith Amos.

Match officials - Steve Williams, Keith Amos, Sean O Connor and Gareth Elliott

Match officials - Steve Williams, Keith Amos, Sean O'Connor and Gareth Elliott