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.
Hendy hit back in second half
HENDY secured their fourth win of the season on Saturday (Oct 13) as they beat second placed Gowerton 26-15 after a fine second half.
The win moves Hendy up to third and they now sit just a point behind Gowerton.
Hendy’s Rhydian Morris got the home side on the board with a try but he couldn’t add the conversion.
Morris did add a penalty but Gowerton hit back with a converted try and a penalty to lead 10-8 at the break.
Hendy stepped up in the second half and Jake Newman put Hendy back in front with a good try.
Steffan Howells then grabbed Hendy’s third while Morris was successful with one of his three conversion attempts.
Morris also added two further penalties to all but seal the win for the home side.
Gowerton hit back with a late try but it wasn’t enough to affect the outcome of the game and Hendy saw it out.
On Saturday (Oct 20), Hendy are away as they take on fourth placed Llanelli Wanderers in what promises to be an exciting game.
Scarlets beaten at the death
A LAST gasp penalty try for last season’s Heineken Champions Cup finalists Racing 92 condemned Scarlets to a single point defeat in their opening game of this season’s competition.
Storm Callum played his part in the pre-match preparations with rain and gale force winds keeping people away from the Parc.
The Scarlets, unaffected by the storm, prepared for an opening titanic clash against the French side.
The home side got the first points on the board after Racing were penalised on a couple of occasions leading to a penalty for Leigh Halfpenny to send through the posts.
Racing then began to put pressure on the Scarlets and Finn Russell thought he had scored but play had been called back for a knock on.
Scarlets then came close to scoring a try but a knock on gave possession back to the visitors who then went back on the attack.
The home side lost concentration and that allowed flanker Baptiste Chouzenoux to run in for a try under the posts and Russell then added the extras.
That gave the French side a 3-7 lead at the break but the Scarlets came out for the second half determined to get back into the lead.
Ten minutes in they had a scrum close to the line and it was Gareth Davies who picked the ball before spotting a gap and going through to score. Halfpenny’s conversion was only inches away but Scarlets led 8-7.
Moments later Scarlets were back on the attack and after working through the phases the ball came to Jonathan Davies who kicked ahead for Johnny McNicholl to run onto and touch down. Again the conversion was missed.
The French side looked to respond but some good defending from saw them clear the ball downfield which Steff Evans did his best to retrieve.
Racing were penalised for not rolling away but Scarlets conceded possession with a knock on and the visitors came forward once more.
Scarlets defended well initially but referee Matthew Carley spotted an infringement and went under the posts for a penalty try and also sending Gareth Davies to the sin bin.
The home side had little time to respond and although they went upfield they were unable to add to the score.
Scarlets will be disappointed to have suffered defeat and will need to pick themselves up for Friday’s (Oct 19) game, also in the Heineken Cup, this time away to Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
Reds made to pay for missed chances
A WET and windy evening (Fri, Oct 12) at Stebonheath ended in yet another loss for the Reds who have now accumulated just a measly point from their five home games to date.
But yet again, as has been the case in earlier matches, they could and should have wrapped up matters prior to the break, but failure to convert a number of gilt-edged chances cost them dearly in the long run.
James Loveridge was the main culprit by failing to finish off a number of moves when through on goal, and these misses were to prove crucial when the visitors struck twice in the second half after being comprehensively outplayed in the first.
Manager Andy Hill has also the additional worry of even more injuries to contend with, with Jordan Davies having to be replaced by Lenny Evans six minutes after the restart following a challenge on halfway, while Chris Thomas also came off with Anton Nelson taking his place.
Just to add to the overall dispiriting picture, the Reds were again reduced to ten men just before the final whistle when Scott Tancock was red-carded – their third dismissal in as many games, and Tancock`s second in just five weeks, following his sending-off at Bala Town.
With resources already stretched to breaking-point, more and more reliance is being placed on academy players to fill the gaps, and to their credit they are shaping up well against far more experienced and physical opponents.
Jamie Owen, Nelson, Evans and Tristan Jenkins were all involved at some stage against the Met. and certainly did not let the occasion get to them, and at least the future of the club seems to be moving in the right direction with these talents available.
The first half was dominated by the home side, with Loveridge having an early chance which was just wide of the near post.
Daniel Alfei, making his home debut, then set up another chance for the striker, but this time goalkeeper Alex Lang brought off a great save to divert Loveridge`s finish around the upright.
Constantly on the front foot, and playing some decent attractive football in atrocious conditions, the Reds had their opponents pinned back for long periods, and they were lucky to survive another attempt from Loveridge which beat Lang and was heading for the net before Dylan Rees somehow contrived a clearance off the line.
The Met keeper was being kept fully occupied, and again brought off another important save from Loveridge when he got clear on goal, but with the number of chances which had come his way, the home striker would know he should have converted at least a couple.
Another Reds` chance came from a Chris Jones corner which was met by Carlos Indja at the far post, but he steered his finish just off target.
Despite their overall dominance, the hosts had still failed to break the deadlock at the interval, and it was still all to play for in the second half.
It was then that the tide began to turn in favour of the visitors who were far more involved than in the opening forty-five minutes, and Oliver Davies in the home goal, who had been a virtual spectator, was at last called into some meaningful action.
A run down the left by Adam Roscrow culminated in a ball across the face of the home goal which failed to pick out a colleague, while Sam Snaith narrowly failed to connect with his header from a Elliot Evans delivery.
When the Reds countered, another Loveridge effort was hacked out of the goalmouth, before almost inevitably the Met opened the scoring on 79 minutes when Harry Owen met a ball into the box close to goal, and despite Davies managing to parry his shot, he could not prevent it squirming from his grasp into the net
He then pulled off a fine save from Roscrow when he was set up by Ben Bowler, but with the final whistle approaching, Tancock was dismissed by referee David Morgan for a foul on the same player just outside the box when homing in on goal.
The subsequent free kick was taken by Evans, who rifled an unstoppable strike into the top corner leaving Davies helpless in the 88th minute to effectively put the contest out of the Reds` reach.
In stoppage time, Davies was again in action, this time turning around another attempt on target by Roscrow.
More heartache for the Reds, who have another difficult game awaiting them at Jenner Park on Friday evening (Oct 19) when they take on Barry Town United. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
News3 days ago
Four Carmarthenshire Schools recognised for their excellence
News4 days ago
Pontargothi: 100 sheep were washed away as River Towy burst banks
News4 days ago
It was Carmarthenshire’s worst flooding for over thirty years
News5 days ago
Police urge for only ‘essential travel’ during Storm Callum
News1 day ago
Council passes half-way target on promise of affordable homes
Sport1 week ago
Llanybydder ease past Stars
News4 days ago
Police name Carmarthenshire man killed by Storm Callum landslide
News6 days ago
Police issue advice over telephone scams