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Cup fever grips Carmarthenshire

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EXCITEMENT is building in the Amman Valley for Cwmamman United and Ammanford as they get ready to take part in the third round of the JD Welsh Cup.

Both sides face Welsh Premier League opposition and the possibility of a cup upset has had many fans dreaming.

One of the ties of the round sees Cwmamman United travelling north to take on Welsh Premier League side Bangor City.

It is one of the biggest games in the clubs history and they will undoubtedly be looking to cause a cup upset.

They have already beaten Rhayader Town 3-1 thanks to goals from Colin Harris, Ryan Thomas and Ashley Curtis. In the second round they scored three again to beat Bridgend Street.

Curtis signed for the club at the beginning of the 2015/16 season and his previous clubs include Haverfordwest, West End and Garden Village. His powerful runs will no doubt cause problems for the Bangor defenders.

Manager Mark Snell has been behind the club’s rise to the first division of the Welsh League since taking over in 2014 and the club are now busy making improvements to their ground.

Ahead of the game on Saturday, Mark told the Herald: “Everyone involved with the club has really been looking forward to this as soon as the draw was made, yes of course we are massive underdogs and we have a lot of respect for Bangor as they are a massive force in Welsh football and have been for a long time, especially in this competition having won it the most times out of any of the domestic clubs.

“The last time they won this was back in 2010 after a retaining it for the third successive season and are due to win it again soon I’m sure, so they will be a force to stop especially under the guidance of their excellent manager Kevin Nicholson and the quality they boast throughout their squad.

“We are approaching the game understanding that we will need to be at our very best and for a lot of things to go our way to be able to achieve a cup upset, but we are not just turning up to enjoy the experience and have a Jolly over the weekend.

“We are travelling up today and staying the night just outside Bangor to allow us to prepare properly for the match. I have done a lot of homework on them as I do for every opposition.

“We are a footballing side who like to get the ball down and play, just like Bangor, who of course boast a lot more experienced players at higher levels. We will be going out to enjoy the occasion but will be fully focussed on trying to get through to the next round and create one of the biggest cup shocks in this great competitions history.”

Another big game sees Welsh League Division 2 side Ammanford taking on neighbours Carmarthen Town in what should be an excellent match.

The Old Gold have been struggling in the Premier League this season but if last Saturday’s performance against TNS is anything to go by, they could be on the up.

Ammanford will also be hoping they can cause a shock and their manager, Griff Harrison said: “We’re looking forward to it. We trained on Wednesday night and there was a good buzz about the place and we’re quietly confident.

“Carmarthen have not been in good form lately so we couldn’t have picked a better time to play them but there is no pressure on us.

“We know it is still going to be a huge task and there is a difference in quality between the two teams but the longer the game goes on if we’re still in it, the more pressure that will be on them.

“We’ve got one or two missing so we’re not at full strength but I’m more than happy with the players. The squad is made up of local boys so they will be giving it everything.”

Carmarthen sit rooted to the bottom of the Welsh Premier League but the cup games have provided some relief for the Old Gold as they previously reached the quarter finals of the MG Cup.

Manager Mark Aizlewood spoke to the Herald before the game saying: “We have a big injury crisis at the moment, last week we had two members of our staff on the bench and that problem hasn’t eased but that’s not an excuse.

“We’re looking forward to the game, it will be a really tough one, Ammanford are a good side and they will see it as their cup final. At the moment we are having a terrible season so it is a potential banana skin but there is nothing better for confidence than winning games and putting a run together and we’re hoping we can start that on Saturday.”

Ammanford have won both of their earlier games in the competition on penalties so will know what it takes should it come down to that. This game kicks off at 1:30pm.

Good luck to all of our sides involved on Saturday.

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Sport

Captain Bony calms the ship

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By Jonathan Twigg

A MAN of the match performance from Captain Wilfried Bony led the charge for Swansea City on Saturday (Dec 9) when his second goal in consecutive games sealed a dour 1-0 victory on a dark and gloomy afternoon over West Bromwich Albion at the Liberty Stadium.

Securing a valuable three points lifted Paul Clements under pressure Swans side off the foot of the Premier League table as Bony’s winner sparked a chorus of ‘Hymns and Arias’ with nine minutes remaining.

Substitute Tammy Abraham’s effort was cleared off the line at the far post from a Ki Sung-Yueng corner before the Ivory Coast strikers’ driven right foot shot which thundered beyond former England goalkeeper Ben Foster.

The Swans started the game at the foot of the table but took solace from the fact they had won five out of six fixtures when they had been in a similar situation previously. Their visitors hadn’t won a game in the Premier League for four months and were on a run of three consecutive defeats in their travels to West Wales.

The green shirted Albion started brightly keeping the ball and moving it around across the floor much unlike teams who play under their new manager Alan Pardew’s banner.

Without creating opportunities apart from a Jake Livermore shot midway through the half to punish the home side, the play meandered precariously towards stalemate at half time, unsurprisingly perhaps as former Bayern Munich Assistant Manager Paul Clements side had netted just eight goals in 15 league games.

Winger Nathan Dyer drew a foul from Claudio Yacob after 18 minutes which earned him yellow card which proved to be a catalyst for the apprehension surrounding Swansea’s play subsiding for the remainder of the first half as they gained superiority in terms of possession and territory.

The closest they came was when midfielder Livermore headed against his own post from a dipping Tom Carroll free kick as the visitors screened the play well through skipper Jonny Evans and his centre back partner Yacob across the 18 yard box.

Bony’s opportunities were restricted despite midfielders Carroll, Ki and Roque Mesa enterprising combinations  with Dyer and full back Martin Olsson getting behind the opposition defence through the outside channels, where Sam Field collected a yellow card after 35 minutes as he tried to disrupt the inter play.

Centre half Alfie Mawson squandered a great opportunity to head an opening goal when he found space six yards out with seven minutes remaining before Swansea came out for the second half on the front foot.

Bony managed to break the defensive shackles on him with a strong and direct run but pulled a driven shot wide of the post, which added to the derisory tally of 27 shots on target this season for his side, the worst across any of the major European leagues.

Clement’s introduction of Jordan Ayew after 54 minutes for Wayne Routledge injected more spirit and it created opportunities to test Foster, from which Bony drew heart to become an influential figure on the game as the Baggies eventually wilted under the pressure and conceded the only goal.

Tammy Abraham should have sealed the victory in injury time when he was worked free to stride beyond the covering defenders only to wrench his effort wide when one on one with Foster, an effort which the eighteenth created in the match, but only three were on target.

Mesa picked up a second half yellow card as did Carroll before he was replaced by Luciano Narsingh, with Evans and substitute Chris Brunt for the Albion, alongside Welsh striker Hal Robson Kanu as he berated referee Dean on his way off the field to be replaced just before the goal, by Oliver Burke.

The crowd of 19,590 greeted the final whistle knowing they find themselves a point adrift Alan Pardew’s side who hover one place outside the relegation places; two wins would catapult Swansea to mid-table, which would be a welcome festive tonic as the January transfer window opens, allowing Clement an opportunity to re-inforce his squad which for most of this season has looked short on the quality required for survival in the Premier League.

Their first win since October was certainly scrappy where the immaculately dressed Clements’ initial reaction to Bony’s strike was to dance down the touchline coupled with a huge sigh of relief to go with his elation.

His bold offensive substitutions achieved the result he required as unbeaten table toppers Manchester City visit on Wednesday evening to fully test Clements’ skills and aptitude as a focused and thoughtful tactician.

The roadshow then heads to Goodison Park to take on an Everton side themselves on a run of four unbeaten games since former England supremo Sam Allardyce took the reins before fellow relegation rivals Crystal Palace arrive at the Liberty for a key Yuletide fixture on Saturday (Dec 23).

Swansea head on the road after Christmas, firstly again to Merseyside to face Liverpool at Anfield on  Boxing Day and Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday (Dec 30) before hosting Tottenham Hotspur at home on Saturday (Jan 2).

Clement and his side will take confidence from Saturday’s victory which has eased the pressure in the cauldron after Club owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien afforded Clement their ‘public support’.

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FAW disappointed at EURO 2020 snub

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THE Football Association of Wales (FAW) and all its stakeholders are extremely disappointed with the news that its bid to secure four UEFA EURO 2020 matches at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff has been unsuccessful.

Over the past four years, Wales has successfully staged three UEFA events – firstly, the UEFA Super Cup Final in 2014, followed by the UEFA Men’s and Women’s Champions League Finals in June this year.

UEFA ranked the UEFA Champions League Final as one of their best events and praised the way in which the Cardiff 2017 Local Organising Committee delivered the showpiece.

The concept of taking UEFA EURO 2020 to 13 different countries was devised to allow smaller countries, like Wales, to have a unique opportunity of being involved in staging a major tournament.

Wales has never staged a EURO or World Cup Final and this was its one and only chance of doing so.

The FAW complied with all of the bid requirements and has written to UEFA to request feedback on the decision so that it can understand the reasons behind the vote for future reference.

The FAW wishes the FA and Wembley Stadium the very best for UEFA EURO 2020, which is sure to be a fantastic tournament.

The FAW will now fully concentrate its efforts on ensuring that the Wales National Team has the very best opportunity to qualify for and participate at UEFA EURO 2020.

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Wales’ 6 Nations tickets on public sale

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WALES’ home 2018 NatWest 6 Nations matches against France and Italy go on public sale from 10am tomorrow, Friday, December 8, at wru.wales/tickets.

It was also announced today that Warren Gatland’s side will open their campaign against Scotland on February 3 (2.15pm) in front of a sold-out Principality Stadium crowd.

Wales then hit the road to take on England and then Ireland, before returning to home soil on March 11 to host Italy (3pm) – where up to 48,000 new junior concessionary tickets have been made available – and welcoming France a week later, on the final weekend of the Championship (March 17, 5pm).

For the first time in the Championship a concessionary price ticket has been introduced for the round-four meeting with the Azzurri, meaning U16s can access this game for £20.

In another first for the national stadium,  a unique ‘curtain-raiser’ also means supporters will be treated to two-matches-for-the-price-of-one that weekend, as the double-headed Sunday fixture includes the Wales Women clash with Italy – making it a must-see occasion for all the family.

Wales take winning momentum from their climactic Under Armour Series victory over South Africa into the tournament, after supporters turned-out in their greatest numbers for almost a decade, across the four-match series (a total of 265,071 attended Principality Stadium this autumn, the highest overall attendance for the campaign since 2008).

All three equivalent Six Nations home fixtures, against Scotland, France and Italy, sold-out at Principality Stadium in 2016 before the tournament started and a high demand for tickets is once again expected.

The Scotland game sold-out this week via Welsh rugby clubs, WRU supporters club members and debenture holders, who have had access to tickets since September, and a limited number remain for the clash with Les Bleus means that game is expected to sell-out before Christmas.

A seasonal guarantee means any orders before December 19 will be received by Christmas Day, with a festive-card option also available at the time of purchase (this option must be chosen at online check-out)

“We are blessed with the greatest supporters in world sport in Welsh rugby and we expect the hottest tickets in town to be snapped up in record time once again for this mouth-watering 2018 Natwest Six Nations campaign,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

“The concessionary tickets, which are available in their thousands for the Italy game, will be particularly popular, just as they proved to be for our Under Armour Series this autumn.

“Round four is set to be a real family rugby occasion at Principality Stadium, with the extra value of seeing two games for the price of one, as the Wales Women Six Nations international clash against Italy kicks-off ahead of the men’s game, at 11.45am.

“As a not for profit organisation, all WRU proceeds are invested back into the game at all levels.”

The WRU has guaranteed its lowest price ticket for a Six Nations match at Principality Stadium will be frozen at £40 for at least the next two seasons, until 2020.

REMAINING Tickets to watch Wales face France are priced at £80, £85 and £95, the Italy match has a concessionary ticket for U16s for the first time, priced at £20, with remaining prices at £50, £60, £65 and £75.

Official Hospitality Packages for Six Nations fixtures are available from 02920 822 413 or visit www.wru.wales/hospitality and official travel packages can be purchased from the WRU’s official travel supplier, Gullivers Sports Travel by visiting  here

The WRU’s official resale marketplace, which gives clubs the opportunity to re-sell a limited selection of their allocated tickets to the general public, can also be found at www.seatwave.com/wru

For all other ticket enquiries contact wru.wales/tickets – which is now fully mobile responsive making it easier than ever to purchase tickets – or visit your local rugby club.

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