Report by Alan Evans
A JAMES Loveridge goal in the 37th minute proved to be the match winner on Wednesday night (Mar 7) as the Reds closed the gap on their visitors and current league leaders to three points with five games in hand.
After the horror show in their last game against Undy Athletic, the home side at last displayed some vestige of the form which has taken them to the upper reaches of the table, although they are still not playing with the fluidity of which they are capable.
Loveridge could well have added a couple more to his eventual winner as he missed a number of gilt-edged chances when clean through, but his finishing was awry.
A worry for the Reds will be injuries sustained by Kurtis March, Antonio Facciuto and captain Joe Clarke, and with a busy schedule coming up as the season draws to its conclusion, it is to be hoped these are not long-term.
Early chances were created at both ends in the opening stages, with the legs of Craig Morris in the home goal denying Kosta Georgievsky when he was found in space inside the box.
Almost immediately, a long kick by Morris was flicked on by Jordan Davies into the path of Loveridge who made ground to the edge of the area but fired wide with only Penybont keeper Rhys Wilson to beat.
Set pieces to both sides went close without yielding any result, the nearest effort coming from Lee Trundle who forced Wilson to a dive low to his left to keep out his free kick.
Apart from that, there was little in the way of goalmouth action, with both sides guilty of some wayward passing and conceding possession far too easily.
But eventually, it was the Reds who got the breakthrough when Robert Thomas found Trundle who in turn played in Loveridge, and this time he made no mistake with a crisp finish into the bottom corner.
Just before the break, he had another golden opportunity when put clean through, but again shot wide of an open goal.
March, after suffering a knock, was replaced by Chris Jones at the start of the second half, but it was the visitors who were the first to threaten as they chased an equaliser, with Cullen Kinsella heading just wide from a Kane Owen corner.
Marcus Griffiths then fired inches over the home goal when Owain Warlow laid on the chance, before the hosts were forced into a second change when Facciuto was injured, Liam Samuel taking his place.
He was then involved almost immediately when his cross found Trundle, whose goal bound shot was turned around by Wilson.
The visitors` keeper then denied Loveridge with a good block from a Trundle assist, while Penybont went close from an Adam Carpenter free kick which struck the bar before Morris safely smothered the rebound.
A final home substitution saw Jordan Follows come on for Clarke who went down under a challenge, but the Reds maintained their narrow lead to get their title ambitions back on track.
On Saturday, March 10, the Reds are at home once more as they take on Caerau Ely at Stebonheath Park, kick off at 2:30pm.
Clayton comeback stuns Van Gerwen
PONTYBEREM darts ace Jonny Clayton pulled off one of the shocks of the Grand Slam of Darts as he came from three legs behind to beat world number one Michael Van Gerwen 5-4 on Sunday (Nov 11).
The 44 year old Welshman looked to be down and out with the score at 4-2 but he never gave up and went on to claim one of the biggest victories of his career.
Van Gerwen has won the last three Grand Slam tournaments and was firm favourite to pick up another win going into the second of their three game group.
Clayton threw first in the first to five legs match but it was the Dutchman who hit the first 180 before going on to break with a 94 checkout.
The world number 17 hit back though and after Van Gerwen missed the bull for a 128 checkout he took out 64 to level the game up.
However, Clayton could not back that up opening up with just 26 in the third leg before Van Gerwen hit 180 and 171 to leave just 16 which he checked out at the second attempt.
The Welshman had an excellent average of 115 at this stage but that was trumped by his opponent, averaging 122.
Van Gerwen then increased his lead with a 16-dart leg but Clayton seemed unfazed.
He hit his second 180 in the fifth leg and checked out on 80 to pull a leg back but a bounce out at the start of the next leg set him back again.
MVG hit another 180 and although he missed a 64 finish he took out double ten to make the score 4-2.
Clayton only opened the seventh leg with a ton followed by a 60 but Van Gerwen did take full advantage hitting a 140 before responding to Clayton’s 60 with a score of 58.
The Welshman then hit 168 to leave himself with just 16 and after Van Gerwen missed on 114 he closed the leg out to make it 4-3.
More low scores in the eighth leg from Clayton looked to put MVG in control but he then missed check outs of 76 and 16 to allow Clayton in to check out with 58 to level the game at 4-4.
Clayton had the throw in the final leg and hit 140 with his second throw before Van Gerwen hit just 97.
The Pontyberem-born Clayton then hit 137 to leave himself with 40 but MVG put the pressure on leaving himself with 74 if Clayton slipped up.
Clayton needed just two darts as he hit double top to secure a memorable comeback victory.
The Welshman said he was ‘Over the moon’ following the win and took to Twitter to thank those who had sent him messages adding: “Made up with that! Incredible to be part of a match like that and then to win it against a class act (Michael Van Gerwen) playing like that is absolutely brilliant.”
Clayton now plays the BDO’s Gary Robson in his last match of the group tomorrow (Nov 13) with qualification for the next round not yet secure.
Trallwm, Trostre and Bwlch through to round three
TRALLWM went through to the third round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 3) as they beat Pwll Athletic 5-2.
Kris Brown scored a hat trick for the Tigers while other goals came from Rhys Watson and Luke Nicholas.
Carmarthen Stars were knocked out of the Cup as they were beaten 3-1 by Giants Grave. Richard Barnes, Dean Evans and Ross Hudson all scored for the Neath Premier League leaders.
C K Swiss Valley were also knocked out beaten 3-1 at home by Sandfields.
Pontlliw earned their place in the third round with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Pontarddulais Town after their game had finished 1-1 after extra time.
Trostre Sports also eased through to the next round as they thrashed West End United 9-1.
Johnstown also earned their place in the next round of the tournament with a 6-2 win at home to Wern.
Bwlch Rangers came from behind twice to book their place in the third round of the West Wales Cup.
Opponents Penclawdd, who play in Division 1 of the Swansea League, took a two goal lead before Blwch pulled a goal back before half time.
In the second half the Rangers levelled matters only for Penclawdd to retake the lead at 3-2.
However, Bwlch showed their class to score twice more to see themselves into the next round.
Matthew Hughes scored twice for Bwlch while Mathew Williams and Jason Morris were also on target for the victors.
FC Carmarthen bowed out of the competition, beaten 3-1 by Loughor Rovers despite taking the lead in that game.
Seaside’s run in the competition also came to an end as they were beaten 7-3 by last year’s champions Goodwick United.
Dafen bow out to Maltsters
DAFEN Welfare bowed out of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 3) as they were beaten 3-0 by Maltsters Sports.
The Swansea League Division 1 side have won five, lost five and drawn one of their 11 games so far this season and they came up against a Dafen side who have just two wins and three draws from their nine games.
Kyle Morgan, Sam Keefe and Chris Hughes all scored for the visitors while they also did well to keep a clean sheet.
Maltsters’ Gareth Morrell was named as the man of the match for his side following an excellent display.
Dafen will now turn their attentions back to the Premier League and on Saturday (Nov 10) they are away to Evans and Williams.
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