Mark Pitman takes in a debut victory for new Goytre United manager Derek Brazil as the former Manchester United defender returns to the Welsh League.
Former Welsh Football League champions Goytre United announced the appointment of new manager Derek Brazil during the week as the man to succeed Robert Cooke and the reign of the former Manchester United and Cardiff City defender began on Saturday as his new side welcomed Cwmaman Institute to the picturesque Glenhafod Park. Brazil becomes the highest-profile figure in what is the South Wales feeder league to the Welsh Premier and picked up a welcome three-points in this eventful contest.
The Dublin-born defender joined Manchester United in 1988 but made only two senior appearances in his four-year career at Old Trafford during which time he went on-loan to Oldham Athletic and Swansea City before making a permanent move to Cardiff City for £85,000 in 1992. Brazil played well over a hundred games for Cardiff before dropping down to non-league football with Newport County four years later. A move to the Welsh Premier League followed with two separate spells at both Inter Cardiff and Haverfordwest County as a knee injury curtailed his professional career. In 2006 Brazil re-emerged as manager of Haverfordwest and built up a well-respected team in the next four seasons.
Brazil was eventually sacked in November 2010 but in a bizarre twist the club re-appointed him three-months later following the resignation of his successor Gavin Chesterfield. The club failed to recover from their indecisions however and were relegated from the Welsh Premier League in 2011. A well-respected figure on the Welsh football scene, Brazil surprisingly returned to the dugout at Goytre United last week, and now has the responsibility of reviving the fortunes of a club that missed out on the league title last season.
For all their domestic Welsh League success over the last few years however, Goytre United have maintained their stance of rejecting the opportunity of promotion to the Welsh Premier League and this season they have once again decided against applying to join the domestic top-flight. Club Director Lyndon Suhanski, a man responsible for upholding the club formed by his father Boris in 1963, reiterated before kick off the clubs stance that the club remain ambitious but would never jeopardise what they have by living above their means. His point is justified by the teams that have spent what they didn’t have to take their place among the elite, and while outsiders question their ambition, there are many clubs at many levels of the game that would be in a better position now if they had endorsed such a policy.
The Welsh Premier League is an expensive business with returns exclusively for those teams fortunate to qualify for European competition. Goytre United are a small village club but are well-respected at their level through their excellent facilities at one of Wales’ most scenic football grounds and the consistently good standard of football that is played there. Promotion would turn a club that is currently a popular and important part of the small community into a business it would not be able to sustain. Their motto – ‘A proud history – A great future’, suggests their policy of doing things right will continue for a long time to come.
Goytre United 3-2 Cwmaman Institute – MacWhirter Welsh Football League Division One – Saturday, 17th September 2011
The game started on a sad note as the two sides respected a minutes silence in memory of the four miners who lost their lives in the nearby Gleision Colliery. Brazil would be without the injured duo of Richard French and Rob Shannon, two experienced and talented players, but still had the talented forward pairing of Robbie Walters and Craig Steins and the influential wide duo of Michael Waters and Jacob Daly to supply them. Steins would prove to be the eventual hero for Brazil on his return to management, but the side did not have everything their own way, despite a convincing start to the game.
Although the sun welcoming the two sides onto the field, heavy drizzle would soon follow as Goytre United enjoyed the early possession. Goalkeeper Wyn Walters was rarely troubled by their Valley opponents as the central defensive partnership of veteran John Meacock and Ryan Morgan comfortably prevented the visitors from offering much, while the pace of Michael Waters on the left made Goytre the favourites to take the lead.
The opening goal would not come until the 20th minute however and it would come from the right as Jacob Daly controlled the ball on the edge of the area and slotted the ball past Ryan Griffiths to hand his side a deserved lead. As the rain becoming heavier the visitors were allowed back into the match and after forcing a couple of corners, Cwmaman eventually equalised through a well-placed delivery that was complimented by some poor marking inside the Goytre penalty area for the visitors striker to head home before half-time.
The sun returned for the second half but the rain clouds remained over Derek Brazil as Cwmaman took a surprise lead from another cross. Goalkeeper Wyn Walters found himself out of position as he stretched for a ball he could not reach and was embarrassed for his actions at the back post as the visitors took the lead. After enjoying the attacking quality that he now had at his disposal in the opening half, Brazil would now find out if his side had the character to match.
Craig Steins is a well-known striker in the Welsh football scene. A youngster at Leeds United, Steins would make his Football League debut at home-town club Swansea City as a result of a loan move from Elland Road in 2002-2003. He arrived at Merthyr Tydfil following his eventual release and become a popular figure during a five-year spell in which he scored consistently. The clubs demise prompted a move to Welsh Premier League side Neath in 2009 and he defied his obvious lack of pace to continue his form in front of goal for the Eagles. Stein returned to Merthyr in 2010 and enjoyed their promotion season under their new title of Merthyr Town. Now at Goytre United, Steins is one of the leagues highest-profile figures, and would show his value in turning around Derek Brazil’s debut fixture.
Under-pressure from a Cwmaman defender, Steins went down just outside the area and covered the ball with his body. The frustrated centre-half lashed out at Steins with a swift kick in front of referee Gerwyn Davies and received a straight red card for his efforts. From the resulting free-kick a cross found Stein at the near post and he headed past the otherwise excellent Ryan Griffiths in the Cwmaman goal to level the score midway through the second half. There would be more drama to come however, and with just five minutes remaining, Steins found himself in space and slotted in the winner after being set-up by a superb run from his own half by right-back Jerome Maynard.
Derek Brazil would have been desperate to start his reign at Goytre United with a win regardless of the performance, but he will have been impressed with some of the attacking talent that he has inherited. There will be some inevitable arrivals in the coming weeks and months and there is no reason why the club will not be once again challenging at the end of the season. The prize may not be promotion, but the club appear well-placed to achieve success this season at the level they feel they belong, and maybe one day they will finally find themselves in a position to take the next step forward. The arrival of Derek Brazil suggests the foundations for this are now being laid.
More pictures from the afternoon can be found here.
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