Another tough result for Druids yesterday afternoon at the capital. An early red card and a much depleted squad were difficult factors to overcome, despite a resilient second half performance and a number of debuts for our academy graduates.
Two more of our academy players got their first Cymru Premier starts with Mitchell Williams at right back and Ben Edwards in goal. Brad Knight and Max Pritchard again got the nod in the starting 11 with Harry Killick, Harry Fuller and Josh Hughes named on the bench. Stef Edwards also wore the armband for the first time, leading the lads out.
The match kicked off at the windy, rainy Cyncoed Campus. The Students, using the wind to their advantage were getting balls into our box early on, with the Druids defence on their toes. However, just after the 10-minute mark, our opponents opened the scoring. A low cross to the near post found Ollie Hulbert who got in front of his man and guided the ball into the far corner.
Druids responded quickly though, Joe Faux stealing the ball on halfway, drove forward and set Ethan Cartwright on the edge of the box. His left footed shot was heading for the bottom corner only for keeper Will Fuller to palm it to Sam Philips and get up quickly to also save the rebound. As we began getting our way back into it, a long ball from The Students caught the wind, sailing over our defence for winger Lewis Rees to sneak in behind and tap into the corner of the net. A lapse of concentration from Druids and 2-0 Met. Matters got worse as minutes after, Jacob Wise received a straight red card due to an off the ball incident in our box that was spotted by the fourth official. Met were awarded a penalty and converted. Druids now 3-0 down and forced to play the remaining 65 minutes with 10 men. The Students took advantage of their extra man as Druids were forced to sit deep and defend. They got two more before halftime, putting the game to bed and leaving Druids with an uphill battle for the second half.
The second period began and a change in shape saw Joe Faux and Sam Phillips sit deeper and play more of a wingback position due to the man down. We could have gone under and gone into double figures, but Druids defended resolutely. Met couldn’t find a way through despite the man advantage and were forced to shots from distance which were off target or saved well by Ben Edwards in the Druids goal. Mitchell Williams was very solid at right back, not allowing their winger to get in behind him. Ben Edwards punched and claimed a number of crosses and Max Pritchard, now playing as a lone centre half was keeping the backline organised.
Druids frustrated our opponents who couldn’t understand why they weren’t breaking through us. However, they eventually did just before full time. Harry Fuller who had come on for the hardworking Brad Knight was down with an injury when Met broke on the now 9 men of Druids. They worked their way up the pitch and found the finish into the bottom corner.
Harry Killick and Josh Hughes came on in the final minutes for their Cymru Premier debuts and the referee blew for full time not long after.
Another tough result for Druids, but positives for more of our academy players getting minutes in the league. Special mention to Ben Edwards and Mitchell Williams for making a statement on their debuts. One more game to go next Saturday when we travel to Haverfordwest before we reset and rebuild for next season.
More than just a football club.