Airbus absolutely battered Rhyl. Tom Rowlands, Ashley Williams & Danny Desormeaux were outstanding, yet a superb home defence soaked up all the pressure and suckered the valiant away side with a breakaway late winner.
These are unsettling times at Belle Vue with all the talk in the Millbank Inn before the game of how many players are about to leave. Even the chips are not as good as normal and a bit spindly. Airbus were hoping to take advantage of this uncertainty and set about the league champions from the start, Giovanni Feliciello forcing Cudworth into a fumbled save from his free kick in the very first minute. A few minutes later and Marc Lloyd-Williams played in Rowlands after a poor clearance from the keeper but he made up for it with a fine save, turning the ball away one-handed to his right for a corner. Rollo was causing mayhem, there was dodgy keeping from Cudworth's appalling kicking and the referee so couldn't believe his awful attempt to save at Jiws' feet as he rounded him to score that he gave a free kick. Then Rollo played Jiws into the area again; this time a trip and a penalty to The 'Bus! Ryan Edwards slammed it in for 1-0. Sub Chris Williams then got himself sent off for a ridiculous kick and the world was a rosy place with Airbus on top and causing all sorts of concern with their slick confidence at a high. Several elderly citizens of The Lilywhites could barely disguise their rage at such effrontery and what they saw as masses of away supporters blocking their view but The Airbus fans were enjoying their time immensely.
Then an awful refereeing decision that turned the game. Matt Bridges awarded Rhyl a penalty for an adjudged trip that Matty Williams comfortably tucked home. Up to then Rhyl had been restricted to long drives, high & wide but now The 'Bus had been thrown off their stride. Gathering themselves just before the interval they began to assert again but with a danger of losing their cool. As the half ended Danny Desormeaux took the ball into the area and shot but was foiled by Cudworth, flinging his arm up to turn one-handed out past his left post. At the other end Airbus held their breath as a ball from the right gently bounced horrifically across the six yard area and out, without a white shirt able to get a touch to turn it in.
Straight into the second half Jiws flung over a shot that cleared the far post angle and after another poor Cudworth kick Carlo sent a similar effort over the other side. A good Rhyl move led to the skillful Williams passing back to ex-Wingmaker Gareth Owen but he blazed another one well over. Then began another period of sustained Airbus pressure. Matty Woodward sent an unusual skier of a free kick like a mortar bomb that landed just on the top of the net, almost catching Cudworth out. Rollo won the ball on the far side and ran down the left wing sending a perfect low cross to Lloyd-Williams, waiting, unmarked, on the penalty spot - as the away fans tensed themselves to rise up for the winner, the ginger marksman side-footed wide. They were to come at Rhyl again but it was a crucial moment wasted as suddenly Rhyl exploded down their left, Williams played in Rob Turner and he clinically fired across Rodgers & just inside the post to send the home fans into jubilation instead. Airbus kept up the pressure but the second goal wouldn't come, Danny Desormeaux having a searing, swinging drive tipped marvellously away by Cudworth three minutes into added time.
A magnificent game, one of the best Airbus have put in but an exhibition of defensive tactics by Rhyl, won undeservedly, albeit with a classic counter. In the morning it felt like waking up with the wrong memory downloaded.
Wingmakers Line up:
Kristian Rogers, Ryan Edwards, Giovanni Feliciello, Matthew Woodward, Gareth Sudlow, Ashley Williams, Jack Abraham (Josh Johnson 62'), Danny Desormeaux, Carl Owen, Mark Lloyd-Williams, Tom Rowlands (James McIntosh 84')
Sub not used: Mark Allen