CARMARTHEN Town recognised the opening of their long-awaited new 3G surface at Richmond Park with this friendly fixture against Welsh League side Cwmamman United on Monday night (Sept 25).
Overall, it was hardly an exhibition of sparkling, celebration football befitting the occasion despite Town fielding a very strong side against a team that currently lies in the lower half of WL Division One.
However, the Old Gold began promisingly as they enjoyed a lengthy spell of pressure, virtually camped in the visitors’ half albeit without managing any initial serious goal threat. Then at last, on 12 minutes, they went close to taking the lead – a Kieran Lewis corner found Liam Thomas who, from 15 yards, struck a fierce volley that ‘keeper Rob Jones turned away with a smart save.
Then after 18 minutes Lewis received the ball just inside the penalty area and dispatched a crisp angled drive that Jones kicked away to safety. Moments later another corner from Lewis was met by Thomas, rising high above defenders, but his header flew narrowly over the bar.
Almost immediately, Town’s influential midfielder set up another chance when he played a fine pass through to Thomas who raced into the penalty area then drove the ball across the face of the goal where Tyler Brock cleanly struck a close-range shot that was blocked on the goal-line by a defender.
To round off this frenetic sequence of goalmouth activity, on 25 minutes Thomas timed his run perfectly to reach yet another corner from Lewis only to see his 10 yard header graze the top of the bar and land safely behind.
During that spell of Old Gold ascendancy Cwmamman had managed, with worrying ease, to pierce the home defence a couple of times with fast counter-attacks along the wings, spoilt only by poor finishing – and when the visitors broke forward again on 35 minutes Carmarthen were made to regret their own profligacy in front of goal. A slick passing move through the centre channel sliced open the Town defence and finished with Ryan Thomas running clear into the penalty area and from 6 yards he slid the ball past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.
The Old Gold, shaken by that setback, went in search of an equaliser and were close on 40 minutes when a neat interchange of passes between Lewis, Kyle Williams and Thomas finished with Brock releasing a close-range angled strike that Jones, with a fine reaction save, turned over the bar.
However, in the 42nd minute Town eventually found success – but they needed significant help from the opposition defence to achieve it. A hopeless back-pass from a defender was easily intercepted by Kostya Georgievsky who raced forward to the edge of the penalty area then dispatched a rasping drive beyond the ‘keepers’ reach and into the back of the net.
After the interval Carmarthen wasted no time in taking the lead – within 90 seconds of the start they had forced a corner and from Lewis’ perfect delivery Lee Surman powered his header home from close range.
But rather than herald a period of dominance by the Old Gold, that goal served to inspire United into greater effort and urgency as they sought to restore parity.
Although for a lengthy spell the play was fairly evenly balanced with no serious goalmouth action at either end of the pitch, increasingly the WL side were stretching the home defence – and eventually on 66 minutes a piercing pass found Ryan Hurlow sprinting into the penalty area where he struck a 15 yard shot only to be denied by Idzi, racing quickly out of his goal, who produced a stunning reflex save.
Cwmamman continued to threaten with fast, determined breaks from midfield but without success until at last, in the 88th minute, Town’s defence was breached as they failed to deal with a left-wing cross deep into the goalmouth where Hurlow was well placed to stab the ball past substitute ‘keeper Stephen Hall and into the net – a just reward for the visitors’ spirit and persistence.
The Old Gold, however, were simply left to reflect on their failure to capitalise on their early pressure and scoring opportunities, due as much to poor finishing as outstanding defending by the WL side.
Carmarthen now look forward to their first competitive fixture on the new 3G surface on Saturday, September 30, (k/o 2.30pm) when they face Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints, no strangers to such a surface – that should be a real test for the Old Gold.
Under strength Raiders beaten
By Sian Golden at Stebonheath Park
IF anything showed up the farcical registration rules inflicted by the RFL, it was Keighley’s club record win on Saturday (Sept 15).
Ordinarily a 112-6 rout would be celebrated, but West Wales were only able to field 12 fit players and after frustrating red and yellow cards, were down to 10 by the end of the game.
There are Welsh players who would have turned out, and perhaps the RFL should allow clubs to register community lads, who have never played professionally, to make up the numbers?
New Raiders coach Kim Williams arrives this week and his presence is much needed. It’s been a long season in Llanelli and, as plenty of arguing showed during the game, it’s a camp which needs a boost and fast.
Raiders held out for three minutes before Andy Gabriel caught Benn Hardcastle’s kick to score in the corner. Hardcastle converted.
Cameron Leeming tore through the defence to ground the second try with another expert Hardcastle sideline kick.
A short kick-off led to the third as Dan Parker raced down the wing, the fourth came from a catch by Emmerson Whittell from a high kick by Hardcastle, who converted, before another short kick-off led to the fifth, this one scored by Ritchie Hawkyard and converted by Hardcastle.
Jose Kenga was next over, Leeming got his second, and James Feather scored a length of the field try. Three more Hardcastle goals made the score 46-0 on 25 minutes.
The biggest round of applause came on 33 minutes when Raiders finally broke their duck with an Alan Pope scramble to the line. Harrison Elliot converted.
There was still time for two more first half Cougars tries. Andy Gabriel was too fast for the Raiders defence, and Parker also raced over for his second. Hardcastle converted both. 58-6 at the interval.
Alfie Seeley scored the first try of the second half with Hardcastle converting, but that was before the game turned into more of a charade when Craig Lewis saw red for alleged backchat, this surely prompting Raiders’ chairman Andrew Thorne to tweet “As a chairman of a club of a club losing is hard to take but when you have 14 men on a pitch it’s an impossible task.”
Hawkyard scored in the corner four minutes later with Hardcastle converting, and former South Wales Scorpion Billy Gaylor was next. Hardcastle missed the kick but got the next try, which he improved, before Chris Cullimore scored under the sticks, Hardcastle’s goal making it 86-6.
It was good work by Seeley, who weaved his way through the defence for his second, Hardcastle’s conversion bouncing in off the posts, but the game was to finish on 12 v 10 as the referee, who was evidently finding it tough to control the game, showed Hardcastle and Dalton Desmond-Walker yellow after a lengthy fight.
Gabriel claimed his hat-trick with Gaylor slicing the ball low under the sticks. Seeley sealed his hat-trick to take Cougars to 100 with Leeming also claiming his third. Gaylor, who was closer with his second conversion attempt, got this one over.
A length of the field Hawkyard try in the final minute gave him a triple and Gaylor’s goal brought down the curtain on the farce that Oscar Wilde would have been proud of writing.
Draw made for Bowl second round
THE draw for the second round of the WRU National Bowl has been made with a number of exciting ties to look forward to.
New Dock Stars’ reward for knocking out League 3 West A opponents Llangwm is another home tie against fellow League 3 West A side Llanybydder.
Former WRU Bowl Champions Amman United were given a walkover in the first round and they will be at home in the second round having been drawn to play South Gower.
Haverfordwest, who beat Pantyffynnon 69-5 on Saturday (Sept 15) have been rewarded with another home tie against Llangadog who won 50-14 away to Pontyates in their first round game.
Aberaeron, who beat Milford Haven in the first round, face a local derby with Lampeter Town who had a walkover against Pembroke Dock Quins in the first round.
Neyland, who had also had a walkover in the first round, have been given a home tie against Carmarthenshire side Cefneithin.
The two sides met in the same stage of last season’s competition and it was Cefneithin who came out on top on that occasion winning 25-3.
Laugharne have been drawn away to Trimsaran while Betws have also been drawn away to Cwmgors.
All matches will be played on Saturday, October 6.
Selected WRU Bowl second round fixtures:
Amman Utd v South Gower
Cardigan v Nantgaredig
Cwmgors v Betws (Ammanford)
Haverfordwest v Llangadog
Lampeter Town v Aberaeron
New Dock Stars v Llanybydder
Neyland v Cefneithin
Trimsaran v Laugharne
Wanderers snatch late victory
LLANELLI Wanderers earned their second win of the season on Saturday (Sept 15) as they beat Dunvant 22-19 thanks to a late try.
The powerful Dunvant pack helped their side to a 16-12 lead at half time but the Wanderers were still very much in the game.
Josh Leeds and Jordan Evans scored the tries for Llanelli while Rhydian Morgan added the rest of their first half points with the boot.
Dunvant held on to their lead in the second half as they defended well whenever the Wanderers came forward.
However, with ten minutes to go the tables turned as the Wanderers cranked up the pressure even more.
Gruff Mathias, making his debut for the senior side having played in the youth team last season, went up for a Dunvant lineout and he knocked the ball down for Ryan Tovey who went on to score what would prove to be the winning try.
Morgan then added the extra two points and they were able to see the game out for an excellent win.
On Saturday (Sept 22), Llanelli Wanderers will look for another win when they take on Gorseinon away from home.
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