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Welsh Premier League 2004-05

WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE 2004-05

Since moving into the Deeside Stadium in 1998 things had gone somewhat flat for the Nomads. It was true that a best-ever Welsh Premier League placing of fifth just two years previously had bolstered hopes that better times were just around the corner. Twelve months later, however, only a late surge had kept the team in the top half of the league so by starting off the 2004/2005 campaign with a home defeat at the hands of Carmarthen Town hardly augured well for the immediate future: not that losing at home to the Old Gold was exactly unusual.

In fact a 2-0 victory at Llanelli followed, courtesy of two early goals from Craig Hutchinson and Tommy Mutton, prior to drawn games with Welshpool Town and Porthmadog so five points by the beginning of September was a reasonable return. Our next game on Deeside was against Bangor City who had already scored 13 goals in their first four matches but it was Nomads who took an early lead through Darren Williams. The Citizens soon hit back and when George Horan conceded an own goal just after the break, Bangor led 3-1. Nomads showed plenty of spirit though and fought back. Tommy Mutton netted in the 72nd minute and Stuart Rain equalised two minutes later but just three minutes from time City striker Frank Mottram drove the ball home to put Bangor top of the table. Not much of a 'seven-goal thriller' when youíre on the receiving end!

Darren Williams scored in each of the next two games grabbing the winner in a dour 1-0 victory over Afan Lido, who played much of the game with ten men, and scoring Nomads' only goal in a 1-2 loss away to Newtown - our solitary defeat in a run of five successive away games. October began with a tremendous 5-0 victory at NEWI Cefn Druids where Mutton scored another hat-trick before Nomads shared the points at Haverfordwest County (0-0) and Port Talbot Town (2-2).

The League Cup took centre stage in mid-October after Nomads had secured a momentous 1-0 aggregate victory over TNS in the first round. At the quarter-final stage a Tommy Mutton goal 12 seconds after the kick-off gave us a rapid advantage over Porthmadog in the first leg played in heavy rain under the Deeside lights. The visitors equalised on the half-hour and took a 2-1 lead to Y Traeth when Aled Rowlands struck a 20-yard free-kick past Craig Bryan deep into added time. Two weeks later strikes from Nomads' Andy Griffiths and Jamie Holmes countered a Mark Williams header so that the tie was level on aggregate at 3-3 with ten minutes left and extra-time looming. Up stepped Carl Owen to score twice in those ten minutes and dash our hopes of progress.

Having kept TNS goalless in both legs of the League Cup tie early in the campaign it came as something of a shock when the Llansantffraid-based club came to Deeside on a November evening and hammered Nomads 0-7. Debutant goalkeeper Matthew Hogg probably still has nightmares about his one and only game for the Nomads as the eventual champions scored almost at will. We also lost 0-5 at TNS in the Welsh Cup to compound this misery.

Another defeat followed (0-1 at Aberystwyth) before the seasonís biggest crowd at the Stadium (just over 400) witnessed the local 'derby' with Rhyl. Craig Hutchinson scored the game's first goal on 53 minutes and Nomads looked to be on their way to a first home league win of the season when a 25-yard rocket from Michael Keegan in the 87th minute gave the Lilywhites a deserved point. Just a week later, however, that elusive home victory arrived and in similar circumstances. Tommy Mutton scored from an acute angle two minutes into the game against Caersws but when Graham Evans levelled matters after 70 minutes it was no more than the visitors deserved. Deep into added time Nomads were awarded a free-kick and Stuart Rain was on hand at the far post to grab the winning goal.

A trip to Airbus UK was on the cards next. The Wingmakers had won their very first WPL game against Newtown on the opening day of the season but had subsequently gained just a single point from the next dozen league matches and came in to the local tussle on the back of seven straight defeats in which they had conceded 20 goals and scored only two. So it was something of a surprise when Simon Andrews gave Airbus the lead but by half-time Nomads had taken firm control with goals from Rain (2) and Mutton. Airbus UK did little after the break to suggest a comeback until Richard Smart's goal on 75 minutes galvanised them. For the third game in succession Nomads were involved in late drama as Steve Hughes made it 3-3 in injury time and two more valuable points were thrown away. Christmas brought no more cheer than in previous years with a 2-2 draw at Carmarthen and then a 2-4 defeat at Rhyl on 27th December.

Ring-rusty after three weeks without a match, we entertained Porthmadog and gave a debut to striker Ryan Crawford. Port were undefeated in seven games and took an early lead when Lee Webber found the back of Craig Bryan's net. Andy Griffiths levelled before the interval and Crawford marked his debut with a goal on 76 minutes. As time ticked away Porthmadog put pressure on the home defence but marshalled by George Horan and Danny Jellicoe it stood firm and Crawford sealed the points with his second goal of the game.

Further defeats away to Bangor City (0-2) and at home to Caernarfon Town (1-2) further dampened our spirits as this yo-yo season continued. Cefn Druids were blown away for the second time as Crawford netted another brace of goals with others from Ben Heath and Stuart Rain to confirm a 4-0 success and from 0-2 down at home to Haverfordwest a week later Mutton and Rain salvaged a point inside the final quarter hour.

Up one minute, down the next. March 2005 produced little in the way of cheer despite Nomads playing seven WPL games from which a miserable four points were accrued. Rainís 11th goal of the season was enough to see off Welshpool Town but either side of that game we lost to Newtown, Cwmbran Town, Port Talbot Town, TNS and Aberystwyth Town scoring just a single goal. Tommy Mutton netted that against TNS making the scores level at 1-1 until Michael Wilde scored at the back post as Nomads screamed for an offside flag. Even the other point that month, a 1-1 draw at Caernarfon, was thanks to a Cofi own goal.

The campaign drew to a close with wins at Caersws (2-1) and at home to Afan Lido (4-2) unsurprisingly followed by a home defeat at the hands of lowly Airbus UK. James Gambino scored his one and only WPL goal to give Nomads the lead on 80 minutes but two strikes in the dying embers of the game from our former hitman Jamie Hughes took the points back to Broughton and enabled Airbus to squeeze up above the bottom two clubs in the final table. Connah's Quay finished rather isolated in 12th position - nine points behind Porthmadog in 11th but seven ahead of Port Talbot Town. Home form had been poor with just four wins and ten losses.

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