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Rhyl go through... but not without a struggle.

RHYL..................................... 4 BRIDGEND TOWN ......... 2 WHAT looked like being a stroll in the park at half time for Rhyl ended up a real struggle as they needed two goals in the last 10 minutes to see off plucky 10-man Bridgend.

The match could not have started worse for the Welsh League underdogs as inside the first 30 seconds Atif Bashir was red carded when he fouled Matthew Williams as the striker had a clear run on goal.

Rhyl were relentless early on and Mark Connolly was foiled by a fine Neal Collins save before the in-form midfielder headed in his 15th goal of the season after 17 minutes.

Collins refused to be beaten again before the break, performing marvels to deny Naylor, John Leah, Connolly and Greg Stones.

The home fans were expecting a deluge from the Welsh Premier champions after the break, but they had a rude awakening on 47 minutes when Stones brought down the pacy Mike Hartley in the area and Gianluca Palladoni coolly converted the resulting penalty.

Rhyl rallied and Leigh Pratt cleared off the line from Phil Doran before Tyrone Kirk set up Matthew Williams to make it 2-1. Gareth Owen's volley was headed off the line by Palladoni before a rapid Bridgend counter attack saw Vinnie Wattleworth show tremendous pace and apply a great finish on the hour to level the tie.

Rhyl had three efforts cleared off the line and Matthew Williams rattled the post, but Bridgend could have taken a dramatic lead when Raith Plant was clean through but denied by James Coates.

Finally, in the 83rd minute Strong's bullet header from a Naylor corner made it 3-2 and Chris Williams added a fourth.

CAPTION(S):

EYES ON THE BALL: Rhyl's Phil Doran, right, blocks Gianluca Palladoni's cross PICTURE: COLIN PAXTON
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 1, 2009
Words:299
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