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The League of Wales 1995-96 - League Cup Winners

THE LEAGUE OF WALES 1995-96 - LEAGUE CUP WINNERS

A summer of change at the Halfway Ground saw the departure of Phil Evans, who had been our joint player-manager with Neville Powell since May 1993, and a number of first team players. Probably the biggest loss was that of striker Dave O'Gorman who had been snapped up by Barry Town as a full-time professional. To make up the shortfall of playing staff, Neville signed Stuart Rain and Carl Smyth from Mold Alexandra plus Chris Davies and 'keeper Phil Collister from Flint Town United. With David Whyke away in Germany, it was good to have our former goalkeeper back in the ranks. Gary Wynne also joined from Flint as both player and assistant manager and Vernon Keep returned to the Halfway having spent time with Conwy United.

We began the campaign with a home match against Caernarfon Town - The Canaries' first in the League of Wales following their decision to leave English non-league football. After a goalless first-half, The Nomads attacked down the slope and Peter Hughes netted twice inside a couple of minutes before Darren Wynne fired home from 20 yards out. Caernarfon pulled a goal back before Danny McGoona added The Nomads' fourth for a comprehensive win and a great start to the season. Victories over Llanelli and away at Ton Pentre followed sandwiching a 3-3 draw against Cemaes Bay before a September 'stutter' halted the Quay's progress.

Third in the table and unbeaten when Holywell Town visited early in September, our 'bubble' was burst as the Wellmen went away with a 4-1 win. Drawn games at Rhyl and at home to Barry Town followed before the Halfway Ground went 'goal crazy'. Our next five home games (two in the league and three in cup competitions) produced 43 goals with Nomads netting 28 of them! It all began with an 8-3 victory over Briton Ferry Athletic, Stuart Rain netting five which remains a joint club record in the league. A draw at Ebbw Vale followed before Caersws came north on 21st October and took a 3-1 lead before half-time. That quickly evaporated as second-half goals from Smyth, Davies and a brace from Rain, the latter completing his hat-trick, saw The Nomads run out 6-3 victors. In the League Cup we beat Rhyl 5-4 and drew 4-4 with Holywell Town and demolished Welshpool Town 5-1 in the Welsh Cup. That Holywell game saw Chris Davies net a hat-trick as did his namesake Neil (later to sign for Nomads) for Holywell.

Confidence was high within the camp as the team continued to play attractive football and pick up important league points with wins over Llansantffraid and Inter Cardiff interspersed with hard earned drawn games so that by December The Nomads had suffered just that one loss in the league against Holywell Town and were unbeaten away from home. Then came the 'Derby' match with Flint who took a first-half lead with a hotly disputed penalty. Despite The Nomads having most of the play after the break they could not break down Flint's five-man defence and two late goals, which saw Darren Emmett complete a hat-trick, gave Flint a hardly deserved 3-nil success while Nomads missed a penalty to boot!

Our run to the final of the 1995/96 League of Wales League Cup has been fully documented in an earlier archive entry but it is worth recalling that we progressed from a group featuring Rhyl, Flint and Holywell and resulted in The Nomads and Flint playing each other once again having each qualified from the first round 'mini-league' format. A 1-0 win at the Halfway Ground in mid-February 1996 courtesy of Stuart Rain's goal saw Nomads progress in the knock-out stage on the 'away goal' rule having lost 4-3 in the first leg at Flint.

By early February the league table was taking shape with Barry Town way out in front following a lengthy unbeaten spell. Flint were hot on their heels, but had played two games more, while early-season pacesetters Ebbw Vale had fallen away to mid-table having suffered eight defeats. The Nomads were in the top six still and had gained revenge for that early loss to Holywell Town by winning the return game 3-1. Porthmadog gained a 1-1 draw at Deeside on 3rd February and this began a run of seven league games without a win for The Nomads though five of those games were drawn. The 2-1 win against Rhyl in mid-March, goals from Peter Hughes and Vernon Keep, was much-needed, but we struggled in the last 20 minutes of that game too, after the Lilywhites scored from the penalty spot.

By now thoughts of progress in the League Cup may have been dominating the minds of players and fans alike. We played the first leg of our semi-final at Caernarfon on 27th March 1996 and threw away a three-goal lead to take a 3-3 result into the second leg. League form remained very inconsistent for we lost 2-0 at both Llanelli and Afan Lido, the teams who occupied the bottom two places in the league, and could only draw 1-1 at home to Ton Pentre who finished third from bottom. In the midst of these disappointing results The Nomads hammered Cwmbran Town, of all teams, 5-1 at the Halfway but then lost three games on the bounce, two of them at home to Newtown and Bangor City.

The second leg of the League Cup semi-final was played almost a month after the first game during which time The Nomads had been dumped out of the North Wales Coast Challenge Cup by Rhydymwyn to the tune of 3-0. With league form so poor, just 12 points gained from the previous 15 matches, victory over Caernarfon seemed unlikely. In fact, we didn't win the second leg but a 2-2 draw was enough to take us to the final on the away goals ruling, largely thanks to Vernon Keep's late penalty equaliser. With the end of the season drawing ever closer the league forced The Nomads to play at Cemaes Bay the night after the Caernarfon cup tie and with a much-weakened side we lost 7-1.

Maybe that was just the 'kick' that the players needed as the season ended on a good note. Following a goalless draw at Flint, a 4-1 league 'double' was achieved over Caernarfon Town thanks to a Danny McGoona treble and then the final home game saw Afan Lido despatched to the tune of 4-0 and the players were in really good spirits for the League Cup final against Ebbw Vale at Caersws. We had 'pipped' the Valiants for tenth place in the league and went on to win the League Cup thanks to Peter Hughes' second-half strike set up by Stuart Rain.

Click here to see the final league table

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