THE opening month of the Reds` return to the Welsh Premier League could be summed up as akin to the curate`s egg – good in parts.
After being crushed at home 7-0 on the opening day by Connahs`s Quay Nomads, they then produced a great comeback at Cefn Druids, clawing back a 2-0 half-time deficit to eventually win 3-2, before a creditable 1-1 draw with visitors Barry Town United.
But this latest loss at Park Avenue must be the one that sticks in the craw, as having dominated matters in the opening forty five minutes, they only had a solitary James Loveridge goal to show for their efforts, and would eventually pay the penalty for missed chances, which if taken, would probably have sealed the win.
Not having done so, their opponents were a far different proposition in the second half, and the tactical changes made by them certainly paid off, as the visitors were a pale shadow of the team which had begun the contest, and were run ragged by the Seasiders who, at the close, fully deserved the three points.
There are no easy games in this league, and hopefully the Reds have taken something positive away with them from Park Avenue to ensure they do not capitulate quite so badly as the season progresses.
They began brightly enough with the first chance falling to Loveridge when a long kick out by Oliver Davies fell to home player, Lee Jenkins, who attempted to find goalkeeper Terry McCormick but underhit his pass, allowing the Reds` striker to close him down, and he was forced to keep out his effort with his legs.
As the half progressed, the visitors continued to stroke the ball around to good effect, keeping the home side quiet, and deservedly took the lead on 17 minutes after Kurtis March picked out Loveridge wide on the right, and he made inroads into the box before firing low past McCormick into the far corner.
This pattern of play continued throughout the first half, with the Reds well in control and limiting the hosts to the occasional breakaway, without any real threat to their goal.
Despite their dominance, they just could not find a second success to establish something of a cushion, with Mark Jones having the best chance when Jordan Davies sent him clear, and despite rounding the oncoming goalkeeper and getting into a scoring position in front of the net, he took too long, and McCormick was able to make back his ground and smother the ball on the line.
The home keeper was being kept fully occupied, just beating Loveridge to the ball on the edge of the box and kicking it clear, while about the only chance for the Seasiders` came from Alan Goodall whose strike from distance was touched over by Davies.
A Chris Thomas run down the left culminated in some desperate defending in the home area before the danger was hacked over for a corner, but despite all their pressure, the visitors were still only the solitary goal to the good at the break.
This factor was to prove to be crucial as the second period got underway, and the major cause of the home revival was the introduction at half time of Porya Ahmadi for Paulo Mendes, as he proved to be a thorn in the side of the visitors from the off, forcing Thomas to concede a corner from his dangerous cross early on.
An injury to Anthony Finselbach forced the Reds into a change, with Jordan Follows coming on in his place, but by this stage the game had changed dramatically with the Seasiders` now in the box seat and their opponents being forced back to defend their slender advantage.
But two goals in as many minutes changed the whole complexion of the contest, with Ahmadi meeting a deep cross from Wes Baynes to find the top corner with a great header in the 62nd minute, before Geoff Kellaway controlled a ball on 64 minutes to volley it past Davies and put the hosts ahead.
Now well in control of their own destiny, the Seasiders` kept up the pressure, not allowing the Reds many opportunities in an attacking sense, although Loveridge did force McCormick into to a good save to keep out his fiercely struck shot on target.
However, any faint hopes of a comeback were well and truly put to bed when the home side struck again on 77 minutes, when a ball played into the goalmouth led to a melee before being forced home by Joe Phillips.
When Loveridge was fouled just outside the box, Follows could only drive the free kick into the wall, before Davies did well to deny Ahmadi by keeping out his finish with an outstretched leg, before being called into action again, this time pushing clear an Ashley Ruane effort when he was played through the middle.
A chastening experience for the Reds, who must have thought they were favourites for the three points following their first half display, but the game is not over until it`s over, and hopefully some valuable lessons will have been learned from the defeat.
The Reds make the long journey to Bala Town on Saturday (Sept 8), with a coach leaving Stebonheath at 8am.
Points deduction for Old Gold
CARMARTHEN Town have been deducted three points and fined £250 for fielding an ineligible player in their 2-0 win over Llanelli Town on New Years Day.
An FAW Disciplinary Panel met last week to hear the charge against Carmarthen Town AFC after Dave Vincent, who should have been suspended for the game on January 1, played in that match.
Vincent should have served a one match suspension from December 28, 2018 for accumulating five cautions.
A spokesperson for the FAW said: “Carmarthen were charged with a Disciplinary Offence as set out under FAW Rule 38.1.2, for the alleged breach of Rule 18 of the JD Welsh Premier League Rules 2018/19 for playing an ineligible player.
“The Panel found the charge against Carmarthen to be proven, and as a result the club will be deducted three points from their League playing record, and fined £250.
“Carmarthen have until the close of business on February 18, 2019 to lodge an appeal against this decision.”
The three-point deduction means that Carmarthen would be eight points off the bottom two and it would also harm their chances of finishing at the top of the Welsh Premiership Conference.
Carmarthen Town have been asked for a comment on the matter.
Young Borderers progress in Mike Fry Cup
WHITLAND Youth held off a spirited fightback from Milford Haven on Saturday (Feb 9) as they won 14-15 on the 3G surface at The Obs to progress to the semi-finals of the Mike Fry Under 17 Cup.
Owen Palmer, Iolo Rees and Brandon Williams all scored unconverted tries for Whitland as they moved into a 7-15 lead.
Harry Charnley had scored Milford’s earlier try and as the second half wore on they looked to get themselves back into the game.
A surging run set up Joel Yeomans to dive over near the posts and the conversion brought them to within one point of the junior Borderers.
Whitland looked to seal their progress and went looking for a fourth try but lost the ball in contact near the line.
Milford came forward but a wayward lineout prevented any further progress.
The home side won the ball back but Whitland turned the ball over as time ran out and they kicked the ball out of play to seal their passage to the next round.
The young Borderers will now look forward to their semi-final tie which takes place on Saturday, February 23.
Elsewhere, Tenby went through with a 12-3 win over Pembroke and Crymych beat Aberystwyth 25-10.
The game between Fishguard and Neyland was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and is due to be played on Sunday (Feb 17).
The final will be played on March 16 at Tenby.
Youthful Blacks stun Bont
BURRY Port travelled to Bont with an impressive eight youth players in their ranks, 5 of whom started the match and two making their senior debuts.
The selection had raised a few eyebrows in the week but the coaching staff fully believed the Youth players had earned their place and were excited to see how they went against a good Division 2 team.
The first half was a scrappy affair with both teams trying to play rugby but failing to hold on to possession at crucial times, the referee was happy for both teams to play and controlled the game very well.
The stalemate was not broken until the 30th minute when a break up field by the home backs got them into the Burry Port 22 and after a couple of quick phases they managed to power over out wide to lead 5-0.
As the half time approached Burry Port were camped on the home team’s try line, twice being held up over the line and after refusing a couple of easy shots at goal searching for a try would have been disappointed to come up short and go into half time 5 nil down.
In the second half, now playing into the wind, Burry Port upped the tempo and got their ball carriers into the game more. They simplified the attack and they got the rewards, Captain Andy Francis got the first try, running hard and straight through his opposite number to finish under the posts to take a 7-5 lead.
Burry Port now had their tails up and Bont were struggling to cope with the direct running of the Blacks ball carrying. A second try came after good approach play and a wonderful finish through live wire hooker Taran Galbraith to extend the lead to 12-5.
Bont knew they needed the next score but with the Burry Port defence dominating the contact area they failed to get any decent attacks going and from a turnover in mid field and some good hands saw flying wing Tom Davies cross in the corner to make it 17-5.
Burry Port brought on youngster Keelan Jewell at loose head to make it an all 18 year old front row and, with the addition of another two youth replacements Kingsley Powell and debutant Theo Barnes-Watson as well as scrum half Ben Williams, who all brought plenty of energy onto the field against a tiring home defence, meant the next try wasn’t long coming.
Centre Duane Evans found a gap and a lovely inside ball to supporting full back Adam Davies who dived over the line for the bonus point try.
Another try quickly followed as a 5m lineout attack from Burry Port was initially defended well but with Burry Port keeping the ball, replacement Powell barged over the line.
The game was won but Burry Port had one more score in them, with Adam Davies dancing around a few tired defenders to again cross under the posts to put the icing on a well-deserved victory for Burry Port.
Burry Port are next in action on Saturday (Feb 16) when they welcome St Clears to the Memorial Park, 2:30pm kick off.
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