By Jonathan Twigg
SWANSEA’s clamber through the trials and tribulations of the Premier League can be compared to that of a child running amok in a sweet shop, so many tantalising favourites to devour, with the occasional reminder that not all sweets are sweet.
A retro walk down the Bridge Meadow Lane would have taken a child past the shop run by Connie Clarke, renowned for her welcome on the bell clanging. Supporters of Haverfordwest County and their opponents on match day, welcomed with few words but with the knowledge her confectionary delights never failed to deliver.
Following Saturday’s (Apr 14) 1-1 draw with Everton, who arrived without former Swans stars Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson in their line-up, supporters left knowing the sweet taste of success held by the Premier League is still within their grasp.
With two of the bottom three to visit the Liberty in the final week of the season this point is one gained in search of extending their Premier League status to an eighth season, although manager Carlos Carvalhal nearly led his side to five consecutive home wins, something no other manager has done since the heady days of John Toshack in 1981.
Swansea welcomed Jordan Ayew back from a three game suspension to partner elder brother Andre as Bolton based referee Lee Mason began the game in front of 20,933, the returning brother setting the tone alongside Andy King at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium.
Carvalhal has worked some magic since his arrival on the cusp of Christmas, tactically leaving opposite number former England supremo Sam Allerdyce to venture to the touchline with his pocket ball side kick Sammy Lee to stem the tide; the blues were overrun in midfield, Jordan Ayew having a wonderful chance cleared off the line as was captain Frederico Fernadez header from the resultant corner, before Andre’s sight of goal was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Alfie Mawson has grown to be imperial at the back for the Swans, attracting the interest of Manchester United, one of those mints that the longer you savour, the better it lingers. Luciano Narsingh however can be likened more to a quickly dissolving peppermint cream, releasing the taste with speed, rousing the Jack Army with an immediate hit, succulent whilst it lasts, inspiring the Swans to drive forward.
Former England captain Wayne Rooney had one of those games, like an aniseed ball, many unable to relish his taste as he left his mark, literally with some raking tackles; his class, undoubted, when it finally came to the fore.
An opening goal came with the aid of goal line technology, just before half time, Lucas Fabianski brilliantly making a double save from Bolasie, before a ricochet off Kyle Naughton and a half time lead, Fabianski thankfully however saving from Cenk Tosun a minute later.
Jordan became the first recipient of a yellow card in the second half, substitute Nathan Dyer creating a stir as the game went up by a level with a sugar surge, the vocal chords tingled with honey from a locket, in the form of striker Tammy Abraham’s arrival.
Full backs McNaughton and Martin Olsson created chances, Tom Carroll serving buckets of sweet balls, to no avail; Dyer driving forward over from twenty yards, Abraham and the Ayews creating half chances, Mawson’s header cleared off the line before the full quarter was served, Jordan levelling the game with a right foot half volley.
The final fifteen minutes rocked the stadium once more, after dinner mints were all Swansea’s, although Seamus Coleman thundered a shot against the woodwork, Abraham missed a gilt edged opportunity at the other end, whilst a tall and well positioned defensive wall directed Rooney’s set piece opportunity over the bar.
Extra strong mints were needed, alas unavailable as the toffees held firm, not fudging their lines with Beni Baningime taking a yellow card for the team, the games conclusion seeing a share of the spoils.
Carvalhal’s magic stars will have to be at their best to out fox and unwrap three points on Sunday (Apr 22) when opponents Manchester City will have champagne liquor chocolates on hand, having been crowned Premier League champions.
Swansea then have the opportunity to welcome Chelsea to ‘fortress’ Liberty the week after; wispa it quietly, as many have their eyes on the final weeks’ trio of games, starting with a trip to the South Coast in search of the bounty available at Dean Park, Bournemouth, before a starburst performance at home to Southampton on the Tuesday and Stoke City for a final day picnic. There can be no wine gums on show, just the everlasting gobstopper which is Premier League football.
Felinfoel ease past Baglan
FELINFOEL’s Anthony Matthias took five wickets to set up a comfortable eight wicket win for his side against Baglan on Saturday (Jul 14).
Matthias tore through the top order to leave Baglan reeling on 65-5 and they were unable to recover, eventually being bowled out for 104.
Matthias struck early on when he had Rhys Gaskins-Davies caught by Craig Richards for a score of 4 and he then had Martin Rees caught by Julian Griffiths for a second ball duck.
Jonathan Lewis and Josh Lyddon did offer some resistance with a stand of 41. However, Matthias returned and had Jonathan Lewis caught by Stuart Parmenter for a score of 21.
Moments later Lyddon was caught by Julian Griffiths for a score of 23 and Matthias wasn’t done there as he had John O’Leary stumped by Andrew Thomas for a duck.
Stuart Parmenter then had Jason Carpenter caught by Andrew Thomas for a score of 13 and Rhys Harries had Steven Kempton caught by Jonathan Cheal.
Parmenter trapped Martin Lewis leg before while Rhys Harries bowled Craig Jewell.
Taylor Rees offered some resistance with a score of 28 which included three fours and two sixes before being caught by Andrew Thomas off the bowling of Cheal.
Felinfoel lost two early wickets in their reply as Andrew Thomas was bowled by Taylor Rees for a four-ball duck and Rees also had Rhys Harries caught by Jason Carpenter for a score of 2.
Despite those wickets, Rhys Jones and Julian Griffiths shared an unbroken stand of 100 to send Felinfoel to victory.
Rhys Jones hit six fours as he finished not out on 29 while Julian Griffiths hit fourteen fours as he finished not out on 64 from 51 balls.
On Saturday (Jul 21), Felinfoel will be looking for another win when they travel to bottom of the table Cimla.
Dafen and Felinfoel earn derby wins
IN Division 1 of the South Wales Association Cricket League last Saturday, Dafen earned victory over Carmarthenshire rivals Llandysul.
Llandysul batted first in their game with Dafen and they were bowled out for 186 in 49 overs.
Opener Gary Williams got Llandysul going with a score of 84 and Rhidian Harris scored 12.
Ben Edkins scored 52 but when he fell to the bowling of Philip George, Llandysul suffered a late batting collapse.
Their remaining batsmen failed to make it into double figures as they went from 161-4 to 186 all out.
George finished with excellent figures of 6-21 from his 10 overs while Chris Hudson also took three wickets.
In reply, Nicky Davies made an early score of 32 before he was caught off the bowling of Andrew Edwards.
Simon Davies scored 19 and Matthew Evans top scored as he hit ten fours in a knock of 69.
Jonathan Randell then finished not out on 27 to help Dafen to victory by five wickets.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Dafen will look to pick up another win when they take on Gorseinon while Llandysul travel to Merthyr Tydfil.
The other game in Division 1 saw Bronwydd beaten by second placed Cowbridge.
Cowbridge made 250-8 from their 50 overs and had opener Thomas Merilaht top scoring on 91.
Ben Wright scored 40 before he was bowled by Matthew Vaughan and Tatenda Chiradza scored 27.
Brad Evans scored 37 and Jack Cropper scored 15 but no other batsmen made it into double figures as Bronwydd hit back.
Dafydd Morgan finished with excellent figures of 4-36 while Pauluge Gihan Secstus Fernando took three wickets.
In reply, James Cales scored 23 and James Dickson scored 38 while Oliver Furneaux scored 22. Meirion Davies scored 44 but that was as good as it got for Bronwydd.
Three wickets apiece from Brad Evans and Nicholas Wood ensured that the Carmarthenshire side were bowled out for 174.
On Saturday (Jul 14), they will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Maesteg Celtic.
FELINFOEL also earned a derby victory over Llangennech as they beat them by 88 runs.
The home side batted first and were all out for 201 despite looking well set to make a good total on 166-3.
Opener Andrew Thomas scored 19 and Rhys Jones scored 36.
Julian Griffiths scored 24 while Rhys Harries was their top scorer with 81 as he hit 12 fours and a six.
Felinfoel then collapsed as Gareth George, Simon Clement, James Taube and Matthew Jones all took two wickets for Llangennech.
The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals in their reply as Hedd-Wyn Jones and Scott Lloyd both scored 10.
James Taube was his side’s top scorer with 33 runs, Matthew Jones scored 15 and Stuart Goddard made a late score of 21 but it wasn’t enough to help them to victory.
Tom Jones took four wickets for the loss of 25 runs for Felinfoel while Rhys Harries took three for the loss of 19 runs.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Felinfoel will look to keep their recent good run going when they take on Baglan.
Llangennech will look to get back to winning ways as they travel to Briton Ferry Steel.
The other game in Division 2 saw Drefach beaten by Maesteg.
Drefach batted first and scores of 59 from Dafydd Humphreys, 36 from James Carter and 62 not out from Owen Donovan helped them post a good total of 210-5.
Maesteg’s Andrew King then set his side on their way to victory with an excellent century. He was out on a score of 107 but other scores of 32 from Lloyd Wilkshire and 15 not out from Chris Parry saw them to victory.
Rob Seymour took two wickets for Drefach but the defeat means they stay third from bottom in the table.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Drefach will look to take themselves away from the drop zone as they travel to fourth from bottom Skewen.
Llanelli slip to defeat
JUST a week after their excellent win over Carmarthen Wanderers Llanelli suffered a disappointing 216-run defeat at the hands of Clydach in Division 2 of the South Wales Premier League.
On Saturday (Jul 7), Clydach won the toss and elected to bat and that proved to be a good decision as they posted a challenging total of 263-5 from their 50 overs.
Jonathan Hubschmid hit five fours and a six as he scored 57 while McKenzie Squires scored 25.
Sam Davies hit ten fours in a knock of 88 but he was then run out by Marcus Leaf as the home side did their best to keep the score down.
However, James Garland smashed three fours and a six in a score of 28 from 14 balls as Clydach piled on the runs late on.
Jack Todd then hit three fours and two sixes in a knock of 38 not out from 20 balls.
Llanelli struggled in their reply as only one of their batsmen, Marcus Leaf with 17, made it into double figures.
Jamie Lewis was in fine form for Clydach taking seven wickets as he had Leaf caught by Liam Garland, Iwan Rees trapped leg before and Steven Devonald caught by Christopher Donne.
Lewis took further wickets of Matthew Roberts, Ryan Nicholas, David Richards and Morgan Jones as Llanelli limped to a disappointing total of 47 all out.
Llanelli will look to put this defeat behind them when they take on Newport Fugitives away on Saturday (Jul 14).
Wanderers bounce back
CARMARTHEN Wanderers had better luck on Saturday (Jul 7) as they beat Panteg by three wickets in a high scoring game.
Panteg won the toss and elected to bat and they posted an excellent total of 236-8 from their 50 overs.
Will Bragg was the star of the innings for Panteg as he hit nine fours in a score of 103 before he fell to the bowling of Gareth Thomas.
Akhtar Balouch made 29 before being out to the bowling of Owain Binding and Daniel Wilkinson added 46 runs to the total.
In reply a score of 75 from Thomas got the Wanderers off to a good start and they also had captain Leighton Walters and Owain Davies make scores of 35.
Liam Rogers then finished not out on 43 to see the Wanderers over the line.
On Saturday (Jul 14), the Wanderers will be looking for another win when they take on third placed Penarth at Trinity Fields.
Ammanford up to third
AMMANFORD moved up to third place in Division 1 after they beat Ynysygerwn by 45 runs.
They made a solid start to their innings with Rhodri-Huw Davies making 56 and Elis Richards scored 17.
Daniel Roberts was the mainstay of the innings as he hit seventeen fours and a six in a score of 120 from just 95 balls.
He was run out by Josh Griffiths but that scored helped Ammanford post an excellent total of 272-7 from their 50 overs.
Alex McCormack scored 40 as the visitors made a steady start to their reply and Darren Thomas scored 77 and although Josh Griffiths finished not out on 20 Ynysygerwn fell short of their target on 227-9.
Matthew Fisher bowled well as he took four wickets and Sean Coaker also took two.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Ammanford are at home again as they take on fourth placed St Fagans.
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