With the end of the season now in sight, the Pennies’ Under 16, Under 19 and First squads find themselves in contrasting situations, but all battling hard, writes ANDREW KENNEDY.

SWWGL Cup Semi-Final

Abergavenny WFC U16s - 12

Cardiff Crusaders JFC U16 Girls - 1

Despite being a brand new team created only last summer, the Under 16 Pennies have knitted into quite a force, as the visiting Crusaders found to their cost on Sunday afternoon at Brynmawr. Having already booked their place in the FAW Girls’ Cup Final, it was time to cement the Pennies’ claim for that same honour in the South Wales Women’s & Girls’ League cup competition too, with Tredegar Town, Sully Sports Pinks and Monmouth Town already cast aside to reach the semi-final, whereas the Crusaders had beaten Cowbridge, Splott Albion and Barry Town United ‘Yellows’ to reach the same match.

Unknown to each other as teams, the Pennies were instructed to ‘not underestimate the opposition’ and to push from the whistle. There is not the space here to describe the goals that followed, but suffice to say that the next 40 minutes saw the Pennies rack up 10 goals, with the full range of shots on show, from distance, at close range and creating opportunities from pressure on the Crusaders’ defence and goalie, who to her massive credit was an outfield player that had stepped into the role on the day and did make some excellent saves.

The Abergavenny goal scorers were Isobelle Probert – at 6, 17, 22, 31 and 32 minutes, Imogen Lewis (8), Allesha Cake (20 and 29), Paige Parsons (29) and Jasmine Lavis (37), and the team as a whole was efficient and on top form. At half-time the situation looked quite bleak for the Crusaders, especially with just one substitute available while the Pennies had the full allowed seven. However, while the Pennies were not quite as deadly when the play resumed, that was thanks in part to the away side showing great character and remaining determined, and thus just three more goals were scored, with one of those by the visitors. Ultimately, seven of the Pennies scored on the day, with Leah Jones and Mia Sherrard increasing the home side’s score to 12. The other semi-final has yet to be played but the opposition in the final will either be the U16s girls team of Cardiff City WFC or AFC Rumney.

There is no U16 Pennies match in the week ahead, although 7 league matches and 2 cup finals are yet to be played.

Adran South U19s

Swansea City

Ladies FC U19s - 4

Abergavenny WFC U19s- 1

Friday night football is generally the domain of the Under 19s league, which regularly provides rapid fire entertainment for spectators and is both physical and fast. Cancellations of some winter matches have led to a flurry of six fixtures over the final three weeks of the campaign, and while a group of advancing U16s are by this stage of the season gaining opportunities at U19, as are U19s in the First squad, rules governing the time that players are allowed to play over a 72 hour period do mean that some players are effectively out of the mix at times.

Much of the U19 team that has evolved this season has come up from U16 last year, sometimes with a more senior player legally included to add experience and to encourage, but the recent fixture congestion has seen less of that and so the loss to Cardiff City last Monday was very much the young side on its own. For perspective, the 6-1 win by Cardiff was followed four days later by that side achieving a 13-0 win over Cascade YC FC U19s to clinch the league, so there is great heart in the Pennies’ line up.

As for the Pennies’ own Friday night fixture on March 24, away to Swansea, the Swans seem to perform far better at home than away. The Pennies had beaten them 4-0 back in December but the tables were virtually reversed when the teams met in Llandarcy, except that Pennies’ captain Chloe Leonard scored in the 34th minute. The AWFC side is looking to maintain a mid-table position and has two more matches left in which to do this, a tough Monday night home fixture against Briton Ferry Llansawel FC Ladies U19s on March 27 and then a Friday night outing to Blackwood Comprehensive School (NP12 1ER) to play Coed Duon WFC U19s on March 31; kick-off 19.30.

Abergavenny Women FC 1

Pontypridd United Women 5

Adran Premier Plate

These two teams are in contrasting places, the visiting Dragons looking to better Aberystwyth Town to win the Plate while the Pennies’ difficult season has them battling against Barry Town United to avoid relegation. In regard to the latter, on the morning of Sunday, March 26 the table had Barry on 11 points with three matches left to play, with Abergavenny on just 2 with the same number of matches remaining. At first glance it would seem that just a draw will seal the deal for BTU but it is not quite that simple as the Pennies were docked 6 points for being unable to play in two mid-week attempts to run a match at TNS (Oswestry) – an appeal by the club was undertaken last Wednesday, March 22, but the decision is ‘pending’ for 7 days. Any reversal of the lost points will mean that the Pennies can have a chance at earning the right to stay in the league by their own actions on the pitch, and that is the hope of many.

As for the home match versus ‘Ponty’, it was always going to be tough, with the visitors just nudged out of the Premier Cup competition by TNS. On the day they proved well organised and fit throughout, and the run of the game could have been very different had two first-half near misses for Abergavenny found the back of the net – they missed either post by centimetres and were largely down to goalkeeper error as a result of pressure. The Pennies started both halves well but two goals were conceded in the first-half – by Holly Broad and Carys Bufton at 19 and 31 minutes respectively – and it was then an uphill battle to get back on to level terms, let alone go for the win. The Dragons enjoyed a flow of passing that proved difficult to break down and then another ‘Ponty’ goal came from Liv Francis at 59 minutes. With the home side 3-0 down, a lift came from a Lauren Boyd header hitting the back of the ‘Ponty’ net at 67 minutes, but ultimately the momentum remained with the visitors who seemed to cope with the intensity of the play for a longer duration, their Lucy Jones adding to the score at 76 minutes and then all business was concluded with an Evie Hughes goal in the 83rd minute.

The next Pennies match will be away in Aberystwyth on Sunday, April 2 (14.00 kick-off), with a home match versus Barry Town United concluding the 2022/23 campaign at Pen-Y-Pound 7 days later – depending on the decision by the league authorities, the head-to-head between Abergavenny WFC and BTU could yet go to the wire.

UNDER 16s match

1 – U16 - IMG_6737c Allesha Cake (AWFC U16s) vs Cardiff Crusaders SWWGL Cup Semi 26-3-23 Photo Andrew Kennedy.JPG

Charging towards the Cardiff Crusaders goal is Allesha Cake, who scored twice for the Pennies in the all action first 40 minutes of the cup semi-final on Sunday. Photo Andrew Kennedy

2 – U16 - IMG_6806+ Kaci-Leigh George (AWFC U16s) vs Cardiff Crusaders SWWGL Cup Semi 26-3-23 Photo Andrew Kennedy.JPG

Captain of the U16 Pennies, Kaci-Leigh George stops a Crusaders attack in its tracks and looks to clear the danger and build a new attack for her own side. Photo Andrew Kennedy

3 – U16 - IMG_6886 Torri Leek (AWFC U16s) vs Cardiff Crusaders SWWGL Cup Semi 26-3-23 Photo Andrew Kennedy.JPG

Boom! Torri Leek sends a rocket of a shot towards the Cardiff goal in the second-half of the cup tie. Photo Andrew Kennedy


4 – Firsts – DSC_3877 Alana Murphy (AWFC) and Shannon Greenway (PUW) 26-3-23 Photo MARK KEANE.jpg

Never giving an inch, Alana Murphy (aka ‘Smurf’) clashes with Shannon Greenway of Pontypridd United Women at Pen-Y-Pound on Sunday. Photo Mark Keane

5 – Firsts – DSC_4736 Defender Carys Gittins (AWFC) and Evie Hughes (PUW) 26-3-23 Photo MARK KEANE.jpg

On a day that was both tough and muddy, Pennies’ defender Carys Gittins looks to time a challenge to thwart Evie Hughes’ progress up the pitch. Photo Mark Keane

6 – Firsts – DSC_4892+ Lauren Boyd (AWFC) scores for the Pennies vs Pontypridd United Women 26-3-23 Photo MARK KEANE.JPG

Her header in flight, Lauren Boyd scores for the Pennies in the 67th minute. Photo Mark Keane