By Jonathan Twigg
SATURDAY (Feb 10) saw the Liberty Stadium in Swansea witness a ‘turf war’, won by the commemorative, Chinese New Year shirt wearing home side 1-0.
Visitors Burnley continued their miserable winless run which started on December 12, whilst Carlos Carvalhal’s side are now nine games unbeaten, lifting themselves clear of the relegation zone.
“You don’t have to see it; you smell it” can be attributed to an egocentric player who patrolled the left wing for both clubs four decades, Leighton James.
Saturday’s contest was fractious with neither side gaining ascendency, requiring the input of a mercurial talent like James, winner of 54 Welsh caps after his international in October 1971 against Czechoslovakia in Prague.
How former Swan, Jack Cork would have liked a smudging of the influence imposed by James in scoring 124 goals from 645 games to rub off on him, whilst the home faithful welcomed Andre Ayew to the bench, following his £16 million return from West Ham.
Brother Jordan was leading the line and loan signing Andy King also warming the splinters because the Premier Leagues newest ‘Tinkerman’ has taken his side from the depths of the Ocean to now have their heads above water.
This Portuguese man of war is wary of the sharks around him but can see the coastline of the promised land and knows how to get there, with James’ analogy from bygone years, ringing true.
James made his league debut for the Turf Moor outfit in November 1970 against Nottingham Forest, returning twice to the North West in a career which saw him transfer for a mammoth £310,000 to Derby in 1975.
He left Burnley for a second time in 1978 when they were relegated to the third division and signed for Swansea City helping them from the third division to the first division in the heady days of the John Toshack era. He had spells with Sunderland, Bury and Newport County before he retired in 1989 when at Burnley, to explore more avenues.
James, in his punditry role would have vilified Olsson for diving which brought a yellow card before half time, alongside Ayew, Clucas and Ki Sung Yeung’s efforts to hit the target.
They needed to watch the matchday mascot in the half time break as Neyland Pirate Ethan Blockwell gave goalkeeper ‘Cyril the Swan’ a lesson in finishing.
The East stand corner were drumming the beat as everything remained black and white; Johann Gudmundsson forcing a save from Lucas Fabianski, before Andre Ayew made his entrance to replace Olsson after Jeff Hendrick snagged a yellow card for stopping brother Jordan’s charge.
The side needed new life; brothers in arms, possibly ‘Kolo or Yaya’ were joined by Tammy Abraham, the Tinkerman’s batteries now recharged with a ‘Triple A’ strike force taking the game to Burnley.
Referee Marriner received queries over his parentage as Pope made a wonder save to deny Abraham, Jordan Ayew and Kyle Naughton smashed shots goalward, before the breakthrough came with six minutes remaining.
Ki hammered home the winner from the edge of the box after Naughton and Jordan Ayew’s silky build up play invoked the loudest rendition of ‘Land of my Fathers’ west of Twickenham.
Sean Dyche’s side were reduced to humping long balls which drew no change from Alfie Mawson and skipper Frederico Fernandez and when the new King ‘of Wales’ came across the drawbridge for his debut to replace ‘Prince Jordan’, a crescendo of choral voices greeted the signal of four additional minutes without fear.
James tried his hand at management in the League of Wales with Llanelli, taking in spells also at Garden Village and Haverfordwest but he didn’t enjoy the success Carvalhal has kindled way down by the sea.
An echo from the beach portrays the words of Martha and the Muffins from 1979, James surely remembering the wish for the sun not to go down. He didn’t need to see the ball; he could smell it and Carvalhal has the scent of survival from the sea as he approaches a return to his previous Club Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday (Feb 17).
The Swans travel to Hillsborough in search of a place in the FA Cup quarter final for the first time since 1964, where they eventually lost to Preston North End 2-1 in the semi-final at Villa Park, with the backing of the Jack Army who are enjoying the fruits of the BBQ served by Carvalhal.
Reds stunned by Nomads
Report by Alan Evans
A SOBERING welcome back to the JD Welsh Premier League for the Reds resulted in a crushing home defeat at the hands of opponents who are one of the favourites for the league title this season, and in an efficient demolition job, boasted their credentials.
The Nomads, packed with players having a wealth of ex-football league experience displayed a ruthless streak from the off, and the home side were hard put to live with the almost constant pressure, finding themselves three goals down after just 25 minutes.
The Reds were well contained as an attacking force, and John Danby in the visitors` goal was barely tested throughout, the nearest threat coming early on when Jordan Follows was brought down outside the box, with the subsequent free kick by James Loveridge being cleared by the defensive wall.
Nomads almost snatched the lead when former TNS striker, Michael Wilde, was played through the middle before directing his finish beyond the onrushing Oliver Davies in the home goal, but James Parry came to the rescue by clearing out of the goalmouth.
This turned out to be a brief respite and a foretaste of things to come, as the visitors opened their account in the 8th minute when some poor home defending allowed Wilde to meet a cross from the left and head past Davies.
Seven minutes later, the lead was doubled following another ball by Ryan Wignall lofted to the far post which was headed home by Michael Bakare.
Even at this early stage in proceedings, it was obvious the Reds had their hands full to prevent a humiliating outcome, with damage limitation seemingly the order of the day, but again they were exposed with another through ball which Wilde picked up, but this time Carlos Indja did just enough to shepherd it over for a goal kick.
A rare home attack saw Follows meeting a Loveridge driven cross and directing it towards the far post, but it was hacked clear by a Nomads defender.
On 25 minutes, events took an even worse turn for the home side after Declan Poole was found in space on the edge of the area, although his final finish took a wicked deflection off Scott Tancock before beating Davies.
Loveridge made ground down the right before his cross into the middle was pushed clear by Danby, with Laurence Wilson putting the rebound over for a corner.
Three goals down at the break, the Reds found themselves in even deeper trouble on 58 minutes following an effort by Wignall which again deflected off the unfortunate Tancock and into the net.
Five minutes later matters got even worse for the Reds when their opponents racked up a fifth success, when a melee in front of goal following a corner culminated in Michael Parker netting from close range.
Barely four minutes had elapsed before the Nomads turned the screw even further, with Bakare notching up his brace by heading home a Wignall delivery.
Davies pushed away a fiercely struck Nathan Woolfe free kick, and then did well to divert another attempt by the same player for a corner.
However, in stoppage time he was beaten again when the Nomads completed the rout through Laurence Wilson, who drove home his finish low into the bottom corner.
A sobering return to the top flight for the Reds, and they will certainly have to improve on this showing if they are to have any hope of survival in the long months which lie ahead.
On Saturday (Aug 18), the Reds travel to meet Cefn Druids with a coach leaving Stebonheath at 8am.
Welsh Premier League season begins
THE 2018/19 JD Welsh Premier League season kicks off tonight (Aug 10), with three exciting games in prospect.
Carmarthen Town begin their campaign away to Bala in a game that will be streamed live on S4C’s Facebook page.
Aberystwyth Town are also in action as they host Llandudno at Park Avenue. Friday’s other game sees Cardiff Met play Newtown.
The 27th season of the JDWPL welcomes back two names synonymous with Welsh football, as Caernarfon Town and Llanelli Town return to the top flight after a number of years out.
Both clubs are rooted into the heart of their respective communities and will be hoping for great support as they kick off their campaigns at home to Cefn Druids and Connah’s Quay Nomads respectively.
Llanelli Town begin their season on Sunday (Aug 12) with a home game against Connahs Quay Nomads (KO 14:30).
The league has been recognised a number of times through the BBC Price of Football Survey as being the most affordable top-flight league in the UK, a validation of clubs’ commitment to keeping the live football experience open to everyone within their local areas. With the most expensive ticket price once again, being no more than £10, that commitment will continue into this season and beyond.
The League launched digitally this year on all JD Welsh Premier League social media platforms, and was accompanied by music from Cardiff band Himalayas, as part of the FAW’s partnership with the BBC Cymru Wales Horizons project.
Gwyn Derfel, JD Welsh Premier League Secretary, encouraged people to give the league a go, saying: “It is important that people give the JD Welsh Premier League a chance as, when people do come, they do tend to come back, which shows that we have a good, authentic, family-friendly product which is affordable to all.”
So, whether the football experience you’re looking for is affordable, family-friendly, authentic, good quality or all of the above, you’ll find it in your local community, at a JD Welsh Premier League club.
It begins. Get involved!
Llangennech seal promotion
LLANGENNECH secured promotion back to Division 1 of the South Wales Cricket Association as they beat Morriston by six wickets on Saturday (Aug 4).
Morriston won the toss and chose to bat first but Llangennech showed their qualities as they restricted their opponents to 166-9 in their 50 overs.
Openers Peter Lynn and Jay Wittram had earlier shared 42 runs for the opening wicket but that was broken when Lynn was caught by David Williams off the bowling of Simon Clement.
Wittram scored 36 but he was then trapped leg before by Matthew Jones and Stuart Jones scored 14 before he was also trapped leg before by Stuart Goddard.
Wickets were falling at regular intervals and Andrew Norton was also trapped leg before by Goddard.
Meilyr Powel was then stumped by Williams off the bowling of Bav Patel for a score of 1 and Morriston had slipped to 81-5.
Matthew Dardecker then fell in the same fashion as Powel on a score of 6 before a stand of 49 boosted Morriston’s position.
Greg Handley scored 27 with two sixes but he was then run out and soon after Mark Whittaker was bowled by Matthew Jones on a score of 39.
Huw Knudson made a late score of 10 but he was then caught by Hedd-Wyn Jones off the bowling of Patel before Morriston limped to their total of 166-9.
Morriston struck early on as Llangennech began their reply when Hedd-Wyn Jones was caught by Lewis Francis off the bowling of Stuart Johnson for a third-ball duck.
Scott Lloyd and James Taube then shared 39 runs for the second wicket but that stand was broken when Taube was trapped leg before by Owen Francis on a score of 23.
Lloyd then shared another 61 runs with David Williams before the latter was caught by Huw Knudson off the bowling of Jay Wittram on a score of 43 that included nine fours.
Lloyd and Stuart Goddard then shared another good stand of 64 which took them to within touching distance of victory.
Goddard made 25 with four boundaries before he was bowled by Stuart Johnson.
Lloyd hit three fours as he finished not out on 40 to help his side back into Division 1 with victory.
It has been an excellent season for Llangennech and Saturday’s win was their eleventh of the season from fourteen games.
On Saturday (Aug 11), they will go again as they look to be crowned Division 2 Champions when they host bottom side Briton Ferry Town.
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