LLANELLI Town’s winless five game run came to an end on Saturday (Oct 6) as they beat Llandudno 2-1 in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
A James Loveridge goal in the first half – his sixth in nine matches – and a vintage Jordan Follows finish in the second, ensured the three points and kept the visitors in touch with the other clubs at the wrong end of the table.
Once again, however, manager Andy Hill was down to the bare bones in terms of team selection, due to injuries, suspension and work commitments, with only two academy players on the bench.
In addition, even more problems occurred during the course of the game, with both Joe Clarke and Ross Jones sustaining injuries – the latter necessitating a visit to Bangor hospital for a suspected broken collarbone.
As if these setbacks were not bad enough, Hill must also do without the services of Kurtis March in the immediate future, with him being shown a red card three minutes from time to add to the one for Anthony Finselbach in the previous match versus Newtown.
These lapses are not helping the Reds` cause with such a small squad at the manager`s disposal, but hopefully they can bring in a few new faces during the January transfer window.
On a more positive note, both Chris Thomas and Carlos Indja played a full part at Llandudno, with the latter impressing, particularly as he has not been involved to a great degree so far, and it is to be hope he will become a regular in the side for the duration of the season.
Goalkeeper Oliver Davies is also proving his worth, and he brought off a number of crucial saves to keep out the home attackers.
He was called into early action when saving at the feet of Alan Webb who was played in by Mark Connolly, before brilliantly turning around at full stretch a strike from Alfons Fosu-Mensah following a neat build-up.
A Toby Jones inswinging corner was fisted away by Davies, and when Jones returned the loose ball into the goalmouth, it was scrambled over for another flag kick.
Having survived these early home sorties, the visitors gradually came more into the game, and when Chris Jones picked out Follows in the area, his finish lacked power and Shaun Pearson in the Llandudno goal gathered easily.
Loveridge was then guilty of the same lack of a positive finish when Follows provided the opportunity, before an offside flag cancelled out a John Owen finish into the Reds` net from a George Harry assist.
Probably against the run of play, the Reds then stunned their opponents by going ahead on 27 minutes, when Loveridge intercepted a loose pass across the box before gratefully accepting the chance to take it in his stride and slotting low past Pearson.
Stung by this unexpected reverse, Llandudno continued to press and Davies was kept busy, turning over an effort from distance by Owen, while denying both Jones and Zyaac Edwards.
With half time approaching, it appeared as if the Reds would just about hang on to their slender lead, but as so often has happened during the season, they conceded an equaliser in stoppage time following a cross into the middle by Jones which was not dealt with effectively with the ball bobbling about, before eventually reaching Mike Pearson at the far post who lashed it past Davies.
With Clarke having suffered a blow to the face in the first half, his place at the start of the second period was taken by Anthony Nelson, but again the home side were setting the pace in the opening stages, with Davies being forced into another fine save to push over a further Webb effort.
Ross Jones then suffered his injury when he went down in a heap on the byline following a challenge, and it was obvious from the outset that he had taken a severe blow, and after lengthy treatment by the physios on both sides, he was forced to leave the field with Tristan Jenkins coming on as his replacement in the 59th minute.
Despite these setbacks, and having used their only two substitutes, the Reds began to look the more dangerous of the sides, and Loveridge should have done better when Follows set up a great chance, but again his finish was wayward.
A deflection for Llandudno into the box was seized upon by Harry, but Davies threw himself at his feet to smother the ball and prevent any serious damage.
Then came the game-changing moment on 77 minutes when Follows gained possession on halfway where his run took him past a couple of defenders, and he left Pearson grasping thin air with a superb finish high into the net from just outside the box.
With the contest seemingly slipping out of their grasp, the hosts laid siege to their opponents` goal, but despite all their huffing and puffing, their finishing left a lot to be desired, whilst they came up against a resolute defence which was determined not to concede, while Davies also played his part, turning around a far post attempt from Owen.
With just three minutes of normal time left, but a substantial amount of stoppage time to be added due to the Jones injury, the visitors` cause became even more difficult when March was red-carded for a high challenge on Mike Pearson.
With eight minutes of additional time to be played and at a numerical disadvantage, the Reds endured a number of heart-stopping moments up to the final whistle as their opponents attempted desperately to salvage something out of the contest, but they held firm to secure three precious points, and make the long journey home seem all the sweeter.
If they can replicate that effort on Friday evening (Oct 12) at Stebonheath with the visit of Cardiff MU, then a rise up the table could be on the cards. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
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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