Baglan Dragons and Bangor 1876 booked their spots in the JD Cymru Leagues for the 2023/24 by triumphing in the Ardal Leagues play-offs over the weekend.
On Friday night, Baglan secured back-to-back promotions by winning 2-0 over Risca United in the Ardal Southern play-off at The Bont Playing Fields in Penydarren.
Jordan Evans, fresh from scoring 24 goals in the Ardal South West league campaign, netted a brace to send his side to the second tier for the first time in their history.
The first goal came in the seventh minute when a defensive mishap from Risca allowed Evans to be clean through on goal and he finished coolly past Joe Massaro.
The forward doubled the advantage just three minutes into the second half, when he found space in the box and lashed a fierce drive into the back of the net.
Risca dominated the rest of the half and will have walked off the pitch wondering how they did not get at least one goal back in their quest to return to the JD Cymru South at the first time of asking.
Baglan defended resolutely with multiple last-ditch tackles and goal-line blocks as goalkeeper Mathew Stanton secured his 20th clean sheet of the campaign.
It meant that just 12 months after winning the South Wales Alliance League Premier Division title, the Dragons are on their way to the JD Cymru South.
Following in their footsteps less than 24 hours later, Bangor 1876 secured consecutive promotions by winning 4-2 after extra-time against Cefn Albion in the Ardal Northern play-off at Prestatyn Town’s Bastion Gardens.
Following a goalless first half in which Cefn Albion midfielder Dion Gibbins was sent off, Bangor raced into a 2-0 lead early in the second period through Corrig McGonigle’s powerful finish and a header from Tom Clarke.
Michael Johnston’s side appeared to be coasting towards promotion against their 10-man opponents, but a spirited Cefn Albion side had other ideas.
On 85 minutes, a superb 20-yard effort from substitute Ryan Kershaw halved the deficit and they were then presented with the opportunity to equalise when Ryan Kehoe was fouled in the box with just one minute left on the clock. Kehoe stepped up himself and dispatched the penalty to send the game to extra-time in dramatic style.
Cefn Albion’s Luke Griffin saw his cross deflect onto the crossbar as the tie headed towards penalties, but ultimately Bangor’s man advantage helped them get over the line late on.
Liam Morris’ low strike flew beyond Josh Roberts in the 113th minute, before Corrig McGonigle made sure of the victory and promotion by scoring from the penalty spot in the dying moments.
Nic Jones was sent off for the foul that led to the spot-kick, while for McGonigle it was a remarkable 55th goal in all competitions.
Clubs promoted to 2023/24 JD Cymru North: Bangor 1876, Caersws, Denbigh Town
Clubs promoted to 2023/24 JD Cymru South: Abertillery Bluebirds, Baglan Dragons, Caerau Ely
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