Huws Gray Alliance
|30.10.10 | 7:30pm|
'Magic' Michael Hayes netted a late winner as gap Connah's Quay Nomads regained pole position in the Huws Gray Alliance with a 2-1 win over Llandudno on Deeside, with both sides ending with ten men.
Hayes tapped home inside the six yard box with less than 15 minutes remaining to delight a home crowd who had earlier seen Rob Jones' expert free kick cancelled out by a Dylan Smith equaliser.
Mark McGregor handed the majority of his side a second chance following a gut-wrenching 5-1 defeat at Cefn Druids the previous week, but the Nomads boss was forced into two changes to his side - Gary O'Toole missed out through injury and Stuart Scheuber had work commitments.
In came Chris Herbert and the returning Danny Forde, whilst Rob Jones was also handed a start - switching places on the bench with Tom Baker.
In a tentative opening ten minutes chances were few and far between but Llandudno, lining up in a 4-5-1, looked threatening on the right flank with Lee Thomas making in-roads and ensuring the home defence had to be alert.
The first real opportunity, though, came at the other end when Hayes met a long punt by Terry McCormick beyond the visiting defence but former Nomads' keeper Paul Whitfield was quick off his line to charge the striker down.
Nomads struggled to gain a foothold on the game throughout the first half, with the visitors' enjoying large spells of possession.
And in a drastic change to the usual Deeside viewing, it was the home side who camped in the opposition's half and Llandudno who were mounting quick-fire counter attacks.
One such break played in lone striker Mike Lundstrum on the left flank, but he could only see his powerful effort fly wide of the far post.
However, Whitfield was the busiest of the two custodians and made a couple of solid stops to keep the scores goalless going into half time.
Nomads came out for the second half in a much more determined mood but squandered two glorious opportunities to take the lead inside the first ten minutes of the restart.
The troublesome Ben Collins burst down the left wing to find Hayes in the box but he was denied by a fine defensive block, then Hayes turned provider for Chris Herbert who somehow ballooned over the bar from six yards.
Nomads' early second half pressure brought the goal it warranted just past the hour mark when a long ball over the Llandudno defence found Herbert, who charged towards the area before being hauled down by former Nomads defender Tony Cann.
Last man Cann was red carded and Rob Jones despatched a curling free kick beyond Whitfield for his second goal of the season.
Six minutes later the ten men levelled the scores through a free kick of their own. A needless challenge by Jamie Petrie, who had earlier replaced Danny Forde, resulted in Kevin Fields swinging the ball to the near post where fellow Tudno substitute Dylan Smith glanced a header in.
The action didn't cease there, as just 60 seconds later the game was evened up on numbers when Craig Jones was dismissed for a reckless lunge from behind on Ben Dews.
With the visitors' numerical advantage removed, Nomads took the game to them in search of a winning goal and it duly arrived in the 77th minute.
Another break down the left flank saw substitute Sam McNutt pick out the on-rushing Hayes in the six yard box and he was left with the simplest of tap-ins to clinch the points.
The final ten minutes were mostly spent frantically holding out as Llandundo pushed for a second equaliser, but Nomads' defence stood firm to guarantee a swift return to the summit of the league for 24 hours at least.
NOMADS: Terry McCormick, Ben Alston, Ben Collins, Mark McGregor, Andy Alston, Craig Jones, Rob Jones, Danny Forde (Jamie Petrie), Michael Hayes, Chris Herbert (Sam McNutt), Alan Hooley.
Substitutes not used: Tom Baker, Dean Thurston, Danny Pinch.
Goals: Rob Jones (61'), Michael Hayes (77')
Booked: Jamie Petrie (61')
Sent Off: Craig Jones (68')