The official attendance for this game was 604 for this top of the table clash to see who could be crowned Welsh National League Premier Division Champions – Buckley Town or Brickfield Rangers?
Brickfield had to win and also needed a win at Llay on Wednesday night if they wished to win the league whilst Buckley, relegated from the Huws Gray Alliance last season, only needed a draw.
Buckley had the better chances early on but never really troubled Brickfield keeper Kyle Flowers. As the half progressed, Brickfield captain Steve Watkin’s looked the most likely to score from a set piece and break the deadlock but then Buckley winger Shaun Tinsley sent a volley onto the crossbar ten minutes in.
As in the reverse fixture earlier in the month it was Brickfield that broke the deadlock. Striker Dale Davies received the ball on the right-hand side of the Buckley box looking to create an opening. His cross was cleared by Buckley only for Nathan Jones to drive back across goal and in at the left corner to give Brickfield the lead.
Brickfield looked to push home their advantage in that first half hour but for the remainder Buckley’s Adam Eden began causing Brickfield problems down the left wing. Aled Bellis began to control the centre of the park for Buckley and even had a shot from 20 yards out that Brickfield’s keeper Flowers struggled to deal with.
The second half was a different matter as Buckley looked to convert possession into goals. Adam Eden again began to stamp his mark on the game with some great attacking play down the left wing.
Brickfield had their moments and in the 55th minute a long throw needed Buckley’s keeper Joe Makaruk to come and stretch to punch it away.
Adam Eden continued to lead the Buckley charge but could not get around the Brickfield centre backs whilst Brickfield’s Watkin looked to get a header on target from every Brickfield set piece.
Then just as it looked like all that Buckley’s possession would come to nothing Buckley won a corner down the right on 87 minutes which was whipped into the box by Jake Roberts over the head of Kyle Flowers who had come off his line to try and punch it away under pressure from Buckley’s Paul Keenan. Following him in at the back stick was Kieran Moore who steered his header towards that back post only to find Brickfield’s Lee McBurney defending the line. It hit his outstretched arm and blocked the attempt and Brickfield’s defence scrambled to get it away. Buckley’s players and massed supporters behind the goal raised as one and for what seemed to be an age referee Scott Campbell took his time to assess the situation and then to blow his whistle.
A penalty was awarded and McBurney received his marching orders. With nerves of steel, Aled Bellis the Buckley penalty king who had not missed a spot kick all season, struck it to Flowers left as the keeper went right. He turned with a face of indignation that anyone could think he could miss and was mobbed by his team mates as the crowd went wild all knowing what the crucial goal meant.
The last four minutes was frantic with most of it spent with the ball being pinned in the right-hand corner as Buckley desperately tried to see the game out.
Then the full-time whistle was blown and Buckley fans again erupted in jubilation along with the players, showing just how much promotion back to the Huws Gray Alliance at the first attempt means for the club. For Brickfield’s players it meant they had fallen short for the second season in a row and it showed as their gutted players looked on stunned at what had just happened.
The game had everything one could hope for with nerve biting tension, passion and jubilant scenes for the victors as the Champagne flowed. The match was played in a good spirit, always competitive by two sides desperate to win and quite simply a great advert for grass roots football by the seasons two best sides at this level.
Commiserations to Brickfield. They will definitely come back stronger than ever next season as they develop Clywedog Park further and they will push all in the league for the title next season.
So, Buckley Town are crowned 2017/18 WNL Premier Division champions at the end of what has been a great season for the club, one that has seen both the players and playing staff visibly grow over the year going from strength to strength. With Tier two accreditation in the bag Buckley Town stride back into the Huws Gray Alliance for its last season prior to the FAW taking the reins, a season that also looks like being its strongest yet with an unparalleled level of competition with Airbus UK Broughton, Bangor City, Buckley Town, Conwy Borough, Denbigh Town, Flint Town United, Gresford Athletic, Guilsfield, Holyhead Hotspur, Holywell Town, Llanehaeadr YM, Penrhyncoch, Porthmadog, Prestatyn Town, Rhyl and Ruthin Town making up the ranks.