0 - 1
Ebbw Vale vs Connah's Quay Nomads
Nathaniel MG Cup
Sunday 12th May 1996 | 3:00pm
Match played at Caersws | Attendance: 500
Report taken from Flintshire Chronicle - May 17, 1996.
At the start of the season, Peter Hughes looked likely to be third in the pecking order for a place in the Nomads forward line. At about 4:37pm on Sunday, he was wheeling away in delight, having struck the goal that landed the Quaymen League Cup gold.
A bad-tempered match saw Nomads begin nervously, and they might have been two down inside the first five minutes with Steve Woods and Simon Tyler both going close.
But as the game progressed they managed to find their composure and come into their own, at time physically as well as mentally.
Newport referee P Scott quickly asserted his authority as challenged flew in and Vale's Ben Graham went into the notebook after only three minutes.
The Nomads, boosted by a large travelling support, created their first opportunity on nine minutes when Stuart Rain sent Darren Wynne away on the right and his cross was headed wide by acting skipper Marc Limbert.
The midfielder was deputising for central defender Barry Thomas who, like striker Chris Davies, was suspended for the game.
But in moving Micky Carroll across to centre half and playing himself in midfield, Nomads boss Neville Powell delivered the tactical master-stroke, as Nomads showed themselves more than willing to stand up to the physical challenge on which Vale had pinned their hopes of success.
Nomads carved out another opportunity when Limbert's 12th minute ceoss was met by Darren Wynne at the back post and, though his header was saved by Vale keeper Kevin Creedon, Rain followed up, only to be denied by a tremendous block by Matthew Cable.
Rain was followed into the book by Adrian Needs as the tackles continued to fly in.
But on 28 minutes, Vale were denied by a superb stop by Nomads keeper Phil Collister. Lee Walker raced down the right, his cross was flicked on by Woods to the burly Simon Tyler and, after he outwitted Carroll for the only time in the game, his shot on the turn seemed goalbound before Collister flung himself to his right to tip the ball around the post.
There were further cautions before a goalless first period came to an end and Nev Powell was sportin a black eye, acquired in a collision with Needs, as he gave his half-time team talk.
The turning point came within two minutes of the restart. A long ball was pumped down the right touchline and Carroll was caught full in the face by Steve Woods' flailing forearm.
The stand-in centre-half was enjoying an excellent match for The Nomads and Woods' frustration earned a red card.
Yet, as so often happens, the 11 men struggled to make the numerical advantage tell and Vale stayed in the hunt until the closing stages.
Stuart Rain was denied by Creedon after a superb ball from Powell had released him on goal, and Carl Smyth headed a Limbert corner just wide.
It seemed as though Nomads would fail to get the one goal that increasingly looked likely to be enough to earn the silverware.
And extra duty looked a certainty when Hughes let a wonderful chance slip away 20 minutes from time.
Powell was again the instigator, releasing Danny McGoona down the left flank. After reaching the byline, McGoona sensibly laid the ball back to an unmarked Hughes and, perhaps sensing glory, he snatches at his shot and blazed wildly over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Eight minutes from time, he wasn't found wanting given a second chance to place himself in Nomads' hall of fame.
Vernon Keep won the ball on the right flank and hooked the ball on towards Rain. Little appeared to be on as the Quay's top scorer headed away from goal with Graham in close attendance. But with a cheeky back-heel the ball rolled towards Hughes and he hit a ferocious angle drive from 14 yards beyond the dive of Creedon and into the top corner of the Vale net - sparking scenes of joy among Nomads' players and supporters alike.
At the final whistle, the Quaymen launched themselves into a frenzy of celebration as the commemorated their greatest success since winning the Welsh Intermediate Cup in 1981.
And in a gesture that seemed to epitomise the spirit in the Nomads team, Limbert and Thomas went up to accept the trophy together.