DECLAN Walker scored twice as Aberystwyth Town set up their third Welsh Cup Final appearance in 10 years with a well-deserved 2-1 win over mid Wales rivals Newtown at Maes Tegid on Sunday afternoon.
The Cambrian News reported “The impressive right back, who is Aber’s top scorer this season, headed them in front on 23 minutes, before holding his nerve to convert a second half penalty – to the delight of the lively Aber supporters.
Nick Rushton’s late penalty halved the deficit, but Aber held firm to set up a showpiece Welsh Cup Final with Connah’s Quay Nomads on Sunday, 6 May.
After a cautious opening, Newtown offered the first real threat as Neil Mitchell cut inside the penalty box, before curling his shot inches past Chris Mullock’s post.
Aberystwyth, however, burst to life when midfield maestro Malcolm Melvin dropped deep to collect the ball, looked up and passed forwards to Joe Phillips, who then turned inside and played a magnificent pass across to John Owen.
He looked up and played an inch-perfect first time pass to Declan Walker, who charged into the box to give the Seasiders the lead with a glorious diving header, to send the Aber supporters into raptures.
The Robins were restricted to half chances, with Craig Williams’ low cross finding Luke Boundford, who failed to get a clean strike on the ball, and Alex Fletcher sliding the ball to Nick Rushton, whose low cross was well blocked.
At the other end, Craig Hobson raced down on goal from John Owen’s pass, but just as he went to shoot on-loan Shrewsbury man Ryan Sears put his foot in to clear the danger, and referee Lee Evans waved away Aber’s appeals for a penalty.
After the break, Newtown’s Ryan Kershaw lashed a shot over the bar, but on 53 minutes the Seasiders were handed a glorious opportunity to double their lead.
Newtown keeper Dave Jones brought down Ryan Wade in the penalty area, and Walker stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way from the spot, before celebrating in front of the Aber followers.
Newtown introduced striker Ethan Jones as they looked for a way into the game, but Aber were becoming stronger and stronger as the game progressed.
On 65 minutes Ryan Wade’s attempted scissor-kick was well blocked, before midfielder Tom Owens was introduced in place of target man Craig Hobson, who had put an impressive shift in for Aber.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes, the Robins began to commit more and more men forward, forcing Aberystwyth deeper back into their own half.
Williams’ cross found Rushton, but he could only head into the side-netting, and Aber were looking dangerous going forward, and could have been out of sight 25 minutes from time when Wade failed to connect with a Melvin cross in the box.
A Williams corner from the right found Sears, but he could only power his header wide of the mark, and then on 76 minutes, the Robins were awarded a penalty.
Aber skipper Ashley Young was adjudged to have handled Joe Kenton’s cross in the penalty area, and Nick Rushton stepped up to convert from the spot.
Newtown were back in the game, but Aber stood firm, and were superbly marshalled by Ryan Wollacott in defence, and Melvin and Damien Allen in midfield.
Luke Borrelli was introduced to replace the effervescent Phillips, whilst Kurt Sherlock came on for the tireless Wade, and although the Robins threw everything at them, keeper Chris Mullock was a calming influence for the Seasiders.
With local star Matthew Jones allowing nothing past him on the left hand side, Aber stayed solid, and also created chances to further increase their lead.
Keeper Jones denied John Owen, and Aber very nearly put the game to bed when Melvin raced through on goal, before chipping his shot inches wide.
The full time whistle blew to the clear delight of the players and management, as well as the excellent supporters, who were Aber’s ‘12th man’ on the day.
ABERYSTWYTH: C Mullock, D Walker, R Wollacott, M Melvin, C Hobson (T Owens 68’), J Owen, R Wade (L Borrelli 60’), M Jones, A Young, D Allen, J Phillips (K Sherlock 77’). Subs not used: S Kersh, G Kellaway.
NEWTOWN: D Jones, J Kenton, R Sears, K Mills-Evans, J Denny, N Mitchell (E Jones 60’), N Rushton, L Boundford, R Kershaw, T Craig Williams, A Fletcher. Subs not used: J Perry (GK), J Harries, T Goodwin, C Williams.Attendance: 504. Referee: Lee Evans” here.