CARMARTHEN Town made it through to the fourth round of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday (Dec 2), as they beat local rivals Ammanford 3-2 in a thoroughly entertaining game.
The Old Gold made the short journey to Welsh League Division 2 side Ammanford knowing that progress in the Welsh Cup would provide a major boost to the Club at a time when Welsh Premier League performances, so far, have generally been so disappointing.
After a keenly contested match, during which fortunes swung back and forth, Town achieved exactly that aim to the delight and relief of the numerous supporters in attendance who helped generate a truly “local derby” atmosphere.
After a brief opening period of fairly unproductive midfield exchanges between the teams, the game sprang into life on 7 minutes when Luke Cummings made a powerful run along the right flank before firing a cross-field pass to Liam Thomas who cut past a defender then struck a crisp 20 yard shot that ‘keeper James Kirkwood denied with a fine full-length save.
But in the 10th minute the Old Gold, having continued to keep the home defence under pressure, took the lead when Kieran Lewis, from 25 yards, dispatched a promising free-kick that helpfully took a deflection off a defender and finished in the corner of the net.
From then on the match quickly developed into a competitive end-to-end affair with Ammanford, who seemed to be adapting to the heavy, unpredictable surface much better than the visitors who this season have been far more accustomed to playing on 3G pitches, looking especially lively going forward from midfield.
Carmarthen, however, were resisting that pressure quite comfortably with the central defensive pairing of Dave Vincent and Jordan Knott, in particular, performing with great awareness and composure.
Indeed, it was only in the 16th minute that the home side forced ‘keeper Lee Idzi into any anxious, meaningful action – Rhys Davies from wide on the right flank fired the ball high into the goalmouth but as it drifted towards the goal Idzi reacted swiftly, stretching high to turn it narrowly over the bar.
The rest of his first-half was limited to dealing with a number of crosses and corner-kicks, which Town’s experienced custodian accomplished with his customary confidence and safe handling.
However the Old Gold were still creating more chances and on 33 minutes Lewis, with another smart free-kick, saw the ball crash against the bar then bounce safely away.
Moments later he again sent a free-kick deep into the goalmouth where Vincent, rising above a pack of defenders, watched his close-range header fly just too high.
In the 39th minute they stretched their lead when, almost predictably, Lewis delivered a free-kick from wide on the left flank that reached Liam Thomas deep inside the penalty area and he instantly struck a fierce drive that left Kirkwood well-beaten.
With this goal, his 77th, Liam Thomas becomes the Old Gold’s top all-time goal scorer in all competitions surpassing the previous best, jointly achieved by Tim Hicks and Danny Thomas.
After the interval the Welsh League side immediately began playing with commendable spirit and determination as they launched a series of penetrating attacks which the Town defence struggled to contain.
Within just five minutes of the re-start they were awarded a penalty following what seemed to be a tame infringement by Kyle Bassett – Matthew Fisher stepped forward and drove the spot-kick past Idzi and into the net.
Spurred by that early success Ammanford continued to take the initiative and as the pitch began cutting-up badly they seemed to relish those conditions, while the Old Gold laboured.
Remarkably, after another spell of enterprising attacking play the hosts got back on level terms – in the 61st minute a long cross-field pass reached Fisher and he quickly threaded the ball through to Gavin Jones who raced clear into the penalty area before confidently firing home.
Carmarthen, shaken by having now lost a comfortable two-goal lead within the space of ten minutes, were now on the back foot as Ammanford pressed for a goal that would have taken them into the lead.
They felt they should have had a penalty soon after when an Ammanford player appeared to be brought down just inside the box but the referee instead awarded a free kick on the edge of the box.
The resultant free kick was blocked and Carmarthen began to strike back and put the home defence under pressure.
In the 72nd minute they regained the lead – Cummings, with a strong run and determined challenge, won possession off a defender near to the corner flag then fired a searching cross towards the goalmouth where Liam Thomas claimed the ball and swiftly struck a rasping drive that flew beyond Kirkwood’s reach and into the corner of the net.
Ammanford had no answer to that as the Old Gold proceeded to protect their lead with some solid defensive work and industrious midfield activity which starved the resolute Welsh League side of further scoring opportunities.
In fact Carmarthen produced the only genuine late chance when, on 90 minutes, Bassett burst past three defenders to reach the penalty area then drove the ball into the goalmouth where substitute Tyler Brock hit a crisp close-range shot that was blocked by a defender right in front of the goal.
So, with Town’s continuing interest in the Welsh Cup secured by this hard-earned victory, they now return to the more pressing business of WPL survival on Saturday (December 9 (k/o 2.30pm) when they entertain Llandudno at Richmond Park.
More signings as Cwm build squad
FOLLOWING on from announcing their three new signings last week Cwmamman United have announced a further six this week.
Nathan Davies, who has captained the Carmarthenshire League Select side, joins from Bwlch Rangers while Rob Morgans joins having played with Haverfordwest County and Goodwick United previously.
They also announced the signing of four tremendously talented young players in Oliver Diamond, Korey Palmer, Stevie Evans and Joe Lewis.
“We are really pleased to have these boys on board as we are not only strengthening our first team squad with some really talented players ” said Ryan Stephens, First Team Manager, “but we are also building for the future.”
Ammanford romp to friendly win
AMMANFORD romped away in a goal fest in this pre season friendly beating their plucky opponents Pontarddulais by ten goals to nil on Friday (Jul 12).
Ammanford Manager Gruffydd Harrison will be pleased with his teams workout and even more excited with his forward line finishing prowess.
There were hat tricks for Gavin Jones who showed excellent pace and new signing Tristan Jenkins along with goals from Lee Trundle, Bruno Forkouh, Mathew Fisher and Craig Frater.
Ammanford have another friendly this Friday (Jul 19) when they take on Ynysygerwn.
After that they travel to Pontardawe Town on Tuesday (Jul 23) before a trip to Welsh Premier League neighbours Carmarthen Town on Saturday (Jul 27).
Carmarthenshire cyclist heading to Mont Blanc
WITH THE TOUR DE FRANCE in full swing and the World’s best doing battle against each other, there is another big cycling event taking place within the French Alps.
The Tour du Mont Blanc claims to be the Worlds toughest road cycling event and Llangadog based cyclist, Matthew Page will be lining up and attempting to complete the arduous route.
The event is a non-stop, circumnavigation around the alpine peak of Mont Blanc, starting in France alpine resort of Les Saisies and heads through Switzerland and Italy before returning to finish back in Les Saisies.
Covering a total of 330km (205 miles) with 8300 vertical metres (27,300 feet) of climbing it is roughly the equivalent to tackling two of the toughest Tour de France stages, back to back without stopping and takes in well known alpine passes including the Grand Saint Bernard, Petit Saint Bernard, Cormet de Roseland and Col de la Forclaz.
Matthew is a former professional Mountain Biker, who competed internationally and specialised in 24hr solo competitions and also Carmarthenshire Sports Personality winner. Now a cycle event organiser and cycling media journalist he organises major off-road events within the county including Battle on the Beach, Gritfest and in November 2019 will be organising a round of the British Cycling cyclocross national series within Pembrey Country Park.
With less than 50% of starters likely to finish, Matthew is understandably apprehensive about the challenge: “This will undoubtedly be one of the hardest days I will ever encounter on the bike and despite having done 24hr events previously, the extra challenges the Tour du Mont Blanc brings, including lack of a support crew, route navigation, logistics and uncertain weather especially at higher altitudes. The event has been a major focus for me this year and I am looking forward to the challenge”.
The event takes place on Saturday July 20, with the fastest riders expected to finish in under 12 hours.
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