CAERSWS crashed at the first hurdle of the Huws Gray Cup as Gresford Athletic hit back to triumph in rain and wind of Mid Wales.

The Bluebirds toiled in testing conditions but once again punished for individual mistakes as the Wrexham side stormed back to claim a deserved win.

Both sides started the tie well with Steve Blenkinsop volleying over the bar for the hosts before Aaron Edwards contrived to spoon over an open goal at the other end after Tom Freeman drilled across the face of goal.

However the Bluebirds led on 15 minutes with Phil Jones delivering a weighted right wing cross for Rhydian Davies to head past goalkeeper Mike Platt.

The Bluebirds came close to doubling their lead when Blenkinsop teed up Aaron Hughes-Jones on the edge of the area who forced a fine save from Platt on 23 minutes.

Caersws survived a let off five minutes later with Jack Challinor’s shot blocked in a packed goalmouth before goalkeeper Luke Evans parried away Simon Smith’s rebound effort.

However Gresford were level on 30 minutes with livewire Tom Freeman slotting home Smith’s low right wing cross.

Evans kept Gresford at bay as the Wrexham side came to dominate, denying Edwards from 20 yards before bravely denying the ex-Guilsfield striker from close range.

Caersws rallied and on 39 minutes a clever reverse pass from Hughes-Jones released Luke Sherbon who fired just wide from distance before a low right wing cross from Craig Harris pocked out Rhydian Davies only to be denied by Platt.

The frantic end to the half continued as Challinor’s close range back heel was saved on the line by Evans who also denied Freeman from 25 yards.

However the hosts were dealt a blow on the stroke of half-time with Max Peate steering Dave McIntyre’s right wing cross into the path of Jack Jones to steer home from close range.

The second-half proved a less frenetic affair as the conditions came to take their toll on both sides.

Caersws came close to levelling on the hour with Harris denied by Platt while Blenkinsop’s follow up effort was cleared off the line by Jones.

Caersws had plenty of possession but failed to breach a well organised Gresford side and on 75 minutes were left a mountain to climb as man of the match McIntyre released Mike Latham to break through and slot home.

It could have got worse moments later only for Evans to produce a fine save to deny Smith.

Josh Hartrick provided late impetus for the Bluebirds, forcing a fine save from Platt from 20 yards late on, but it was too late to prevent his side crashing out of the cup.

CAERSWS: L Evans, Parr, P Jones, E Jones, R Davies, Bethell, R Davies, L Jones, Blenkinsop, Sherbon, Hughes-Jones. Subs: Hartrick, Harris, Vickers, Whitfield, G Evans