West Dragons beat Bluestone in penalty shoot out

Winners West Dragons

Winners West Dragons

 Runners up Bluestone AFC

Runners up Bluestone AFC

Match officials

Bluestone Foundation League Final:

Bluestone AFC 3-3 West Dragons (West Dragons win 4-2 on penalties)

The first ever Bluestone Foundation Shield went the way of the West Dragons – but only after they were given an almighty scare by Bluestone AFC on a perfect night for football at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium.

Bluestone, who drafted in Swansea City legend Lee Trundle as player coach for the night alongside George Rainbow, surged into a 2-0 lead midway through the first half, and then later led 3-2 before Dorian Davies struck late for The Dragons to force penalties.

It was there that Ben Henton made two saves to ensure his side prevailed 4-2, with Ashley Prior hammering home the winning spot kick.

Dragons take game seriously . . .

The match officialsThe Pembrokeshire Division One side went into the game overwhelming favourites, having hammered the tournament organisers 9-0 when they met in the group stage earlier in the summer.

And sure enough, co-managers Steve Allen and Lee Palmer showed they were taking clash seriously again by making just one change to the side that won their league game at Clarbeston Road on Tuesday night.

. . . But Bluestone start with a bang

However, within two minutes it was Bluestone who led, as striker Bradley Hewett pounced on a miskick by Nick Squire and fired home past Dragons keeper Ben Henton.

It was just the start the underdogs needed, and they proceeded to dominate the early stages as Llew Jones surged through on goal only for the ball to be cleared from his toes by the onrushing Henton.

But 22 minutes in, Jones went through again after skipping past Squire inside the area, only to be brought down by a sliding Danny Peters.

West gradually fight back

Referee Paul Rooney had little hesitation in pointing to the spot, and it was skipper Darbyshire who buried the penalty into Henton’s bottom right hand corner to give his side a shock 2-0 lead.

The Dragons tried to respond as Scott Crawford curled a 20 yard effort wide, and then the same player’s goal-bound header was safely gathered by Bluestone keeper Chris Lo.

The forward continued to threaten as he was brought down on the edge of the area by Liam Hewer, only for another Dragons striker in Tony Evans to blast the resultant free kick over.

But two minutes before half time, Allen and Palmer’s men got back into it and again Crawford was the instigator, as his low cross was diverted into his own net by Hewer.

That sparked a frenetic few final moments as Bluestone keeper Lo just managed to palm away a Jerome Mansbridge cross with Crawford and Jordan Richards waiting to pounce.

And from the last play of the half, it was from another Mansbridge delivery that Squire headed over from eight yards out.

The Dragons continued to push after the interval, with Crawford blasting a 20-yard shot that beat Lo but cannoned back off the crossbar.

Trundle joins the fray . . .

One of the biggest cheers of the night came with half an hour left when Trundle entered the fray for Bluestone – but it was still The Dragons with the impetus as substitute Ashley Prior’s deft effort with the outside of his right foot landed on top of the net.

But as their opponents began to commit more men forward, Bluestone started to get some joy on the break, and Dylan Davies nearly rounded off one counter attack with an 18 yard shot that flew narrowly over.

However with 13 minutes to go, The Dragons were level, as a Jordan Williams corner found its way to Crawford at the back post, and he equalised with a sliding finish.

. . . And soon sets up a goal!

Within three minutes though, Bluestone led again, as a Liam Bradley free kick found its way to Trundle in the area and the Llanelli Town man teed up Jones, who mishit his first effort but then recovered to hammer home an angled shot and spark big celebrations from players and supporters alike.

But the drama continued as this time the lead lasted only two minutes. Dorian Davies, who came on for The Dragons at half time, had his 20 yard effort blocked – only to brilliantly volley the rebound past a helpless Lo.

All square after 90 minutes – and a penalty shoot out

With time running out, it was Trundle who fashioned one last chance to win it for his side, tricking his way past two would be tacklers before being fouled by Steve Allen just outside the box.

Supporters held their breath as Trundle himself lined up the free kick, but his powerful left foot effort rebounded away off the wall.

It proved the last chance as referee Rooney signalled penalties, and both sides scored their first as Daryl Mansbridge for The Dragons and then Trundle made no mistake.

Both teams then missed however, as Ewan Cunningham’s effort was blocked by the legs of Lo, and skipper Darbyshire, successful earlier in the night, saw his spot kick tipped over by Henton.

Allen put The Dragons 2-1 up before Henton saved again, this time from Kial Keane – before Dan Bryce and Aidan Rainbow both converted their efforts.

It meant The Dragons led 3-2 after four penalties each, and then Ashley Prior buried his effort to seal the win, and the first ever Bluestone Foundation Shield for his club.

Allen receives the trophy – and lots of money raised for the Bluestone Foundation

Afterwards, Bluestone Foundation Chairman Frank Atkins thanked everyone involved in the tournament, most notably Darbyshire who originally pitched the idea and format for the competition.

He also announced to big applause the tournament had raised more than £1000 for the Foundation.

Trundle then presented the Shield to Dragons player-manager Steve Allen, who said: “We started sloppily but it was 90 minutes under our belt and in the end, a tournament win.

“And it’s been a good competition for a good cause.”

Derbyshire is delighted

Derbyshire himself said that despite his side disappointment at the defeat, he was delighted by the response to the inaugural tournament.

“As a team we’ve come so far, and we never would have expected to have been in the final here now having drawn 3-3 with the West Dragons and taken them to penalties.

“It’s great to have had a crowd here tonight and to have raised money for the Foundation. The whole thing has been a success and something to build on – the Shield has 10 plaques on it so we will be going for a while yet.”

Trundle has the final word

Trundle also praised the occasion, and said he thoroughly enjoyed his involvement.

“Our lads were terrific the way they came out and went 2-0 up and then in how they applied themselves afterwards.

“We’ve had a good crowd here which tells you everything and it’s been for a great cause.”
He also joked of his last minute free kick: “They had guys on the line and covering all angles so I just thought I’d try and blast my way through.”

The Dragons will now return to league action next Tuesday, whilst some Bluestone players will also join back up with their Pembrokeshire league clubs.

Bluestone AFC: Chris Lo, Liam Bradley, Kial Keane, Liam Hewer, Mike Slack, Ian Darbyshire (captain), Aidan Rainbow, Dylan Davies, James Risley, Llew Jones, Bradley Hewett.
Subs (all used): Luke Green, Dafydd Wright, Liam Fenge, Will Hermitage, Lee Trundle.

West Dragons: Ben Henton, Danny Peters, Nick Squire, Jordan Thomas, Jerome Mansbridge, Gethin Roberts, Jordan Williams, Jordan Richards, Daryl Mansbridge, Tony Evans, Scott Crawford.
Subs (all used): Steve Allen, Daniel Bryce, Ashley Prior, Ewan Cunningham, Dorian Davies.

Referee: Paul Rooney.
Assistants: Dan Rees and Steve Downes.