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The Nomads journey's in the League Cup

THE NOMADS JOURNEY'S IN THE LEAGUE CUP

Here I'll recount some of the club's history in the Welsh Premier League Cup competition. Our very first tie in the competition was back in the autumn of 1992 against Holywell Town. The Nomads' first League Cup semifinal appearance occurred in the 1995/96 season when we opposed Caernarfon Town and literally 'scraped through' by virtue of an away goal and a late penalty kick. As it transpired Connah's Quay went on to beat Ebbw Vale 1-0 in the final and lift the trophy for the one and only time to date.

The tale of that two-legged semi-final is one that has been recalled on a previous occasion but worthy of repeating. On Wednesday 27th March 1996 we travelled along the coast to The Oval hoping to earn at least a draw prior to the second leg at the Halfway Ground. By half-time with The Nomads leading 3-0, our passage into the semi-final was virtually sealed. Goals from Peter Hughes, Marc Limbert and Chris Davies (his first for almost three months) had the Canaries on the back foot.

Yet Caernarfon came storming back after the break and took full advantage of Nomads' ten men after Carl Smyth had been dismissed. By full-time we were happy to go home with a 3-3 draw and the hope that a single goal would earn us a place in the final. There was a great atmosphere at the Halfway when the two teams reconvened on Tuesday 23rd April but it turned out to be a nail-biting evening for both sets of supporters. Despite a goal from Chris Davies only eight minutes remained of the tie when Nomads, losing 1-2, were awarded a penalty kick at the lower end of the ground. It takes a steady player to put himself 'on the spot' in such a situation but thankfully we had one in Vernon Keep and he fired the ball past Phil Owen to put Nomads into the League Cup final.

Since then we have had just one other chance to reach the final of what is today entitled theWord Cup but was the Loosemores League Cup during the 2009/10 season. We had won through the group stage against Caersws and Porthmadog prior to an exciting 3-2 win away at Bala Town which put The Nomads into a two-legged semi-final against old rivals Rhyl. While Nomads found themselves struggling in the lower reaches of the league, the Lilywhites came to the Deeside Stadium on Tuesday 10th November 2009 as 'top dogs' with just a single defeat to their name. As is often the case, league form went out of the window as Nomads battered Rhyl from the start and should have been two goals up early on as first Andy Olsen and then Chris Herbert failed to convert gilt-edged opportunities.

Soon Nomads were in the driving seat, however, as Craig Jones fired home after Paul Pritchard had dropped a Sam McNutt free-kick and on 31 minutes the gloom deepened over the Rhyl contingent. A lovely through ball from McNutt sent Olsen scurrying into the penalty area where he was brought down by the Rhyl captain George Horan. Horan, lynch pin here at Nomads these days, received a red card and Chris Herbert tucked away the resultant penalty kick. In the second-half Mark Connolly fired a free-kick past Terry McCormick in the home goal to reduce the deficit and give Rhyl a massive lifeline for the second leg.

The game at Rhyl turned out to be a huge disappointment although the 4-0 score hardly does justice to Nomads' battling performance. In the second period Connah's Quay were the better side for long periods and despite having conceded two goals were still in the tie at 3-2 behind on aggregate. Chances came and went and in added time Rhyl scored twice more to clinch a place in the final where they lost to The New Saints. One statistic that is always worth bringing up (for now at least) is that only Afan Lido (with three League Cup wins from three appearances in the final) and ourselves have a 100% success ratio in League Cup finals!

Over the previous 79 games that Nomads have played in this competition we have opposed 18 different clubs and beaten 15 of them at one time or another. The sides with the 'hoodoo' over us are Conwy United (played twice and lost twice), Newtown (one draw and two defeats from three games against the Robins) and Caernarfon Town against whom we have our worst record of the lot! Four previous matches with the Canaries have produced two draws (those previously mentioned in the 1995/96 semifinal) and two defeats.

Those losses came in the 1997/98 campaign and the 2-1 defeat at the Oval in the first leg still rankles with some of Nomads' (ageing) supporters! John Taylor netted their first goal with a powerful though mis-directed shot which clipped the ear of referee Mike Gillham on its deflected path into Phil Collister's net. An error by Stuart Heeps, the Caernarfon custodian, allowed Vernon Keep to score but when trailing 2-1 a strong cross shot by Keep ricocheted off Chris Davies' chest and into the net only for Mr Gillham to disallow the 'goal' on the (incorrect) assumption that Davies had handled the ball.

There was still all to play for in the return game but we were found wanting as the visitors ran out comfortable winners by three goals to take the tie on a 5-1 aggregate.

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