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.
Llanelli secure Premiership status
LLANELLI secured their place in the Principality Premiership for next season on Friday night as they beat Championship winners Pontypool 27-16 in the play off at Aberavon.
Pontypool have only lost one game in three seasons but knew they would need to win to go up at the expense of Llanelli.
They started well but saw a couple of opportunities go begging early on and there was still no score with twenty minutes gone.
Six minutes later Pontypool charged down a kick and were given a penalty after Llanelli were deemed guilty of an offside for which saw yellow.
Pooler then sent the resulting kick through the posts to give them the lead.
Soon after, Shaun Evans had a chance for Llanelli when he ran into the Pooler 22 but after he was halted they went right when they perhaps should have gone the other way and the chance soon went.
Pooler then doubled their lead with another penalty as Llanelli were guilty of a number of infringements in the first half.
However, on the stroke of half time, Llanelli took the lead as they initiated a rolling maul and Taylor Davies went over for the try which was converted by Tom Prydie.
That gave the men in red a 7-6 lead at the break but they knew they would face a strong charge from Pooler in the second half.
Early in the second half, Llanelli looked to increase their lead when Ryan Conbeer went on a snaking run but he was halted just before the line by an excellent try-saving tackle from Lloyd Lewis.
Pooler then took the lead again with a penalty but Prydie answered with a penalty of his own to put Llanelli back in front at 10-9.
Soon after, Llanelli began to take control as they pushed a Pooler scrum backwards, earning a penalty, and Prydie kicked them further ahead.
Two minutes later they had another try as Steff Hughes kicked forward and Conbeer kicked on before falling on the ball in the try area. Prydie then added the extras to make it 20-9 with fifteen minutes to go.
They then scored their third try of the game as Lee Rees broke free after an excellent Callum Evans pass and the on-loan Llandovery player ran on to score. Prydie converted again to complete a great man-of-the-match performance.
With three minutes to go Scott Matthews touched the ball down under the posts and after it was confirmed as a try by the TMO it was converted bringing the score to 27-16.
Llanelli continued to play and thought they had scored late on but Callum Evans was called back after referee Nigel Owens, superb in the middle, spotted a forward pass from Prydie.
It left Pooler with little time to respond and Llanelli saw the game out to seal their place in the Premiership for the 2019-20 season.
Spotlight on superstars in South Wales
THE next two days around Cardiff will reverberate to the excited strains of a bowls community poised to experience the best of the best, when the first week of a two-week festival of international competition reaches its climax.
Over the five days the 2019 Atlantic Championships – featuring twenty-five bowling nations from the European, African and South American theatres at four host clubs around the Welsh capital – Barry Athletic, Dinas Powys, Penarth Windsor and Penylan – has gone through the qualifying stanza in women’s singles and fours, along with men’s pairs and triples.
In the short term the rewards are medals for excellence at this event, while qualification for next year’s world championships in Australia enjoys equal status.
Tomorrow and Thursday will be the stuff of which adventure heroes are made as many of the game’s greatest players strut their stuff – tomorrow’s elimination finals are at Barry Athletic and Dinas Powys, then the gold medal play-offs at Penylan on Thursday.
Spectators at Penalyn this morning enjoyed a teaser of what to expect when two superstars went at it in the flat green game’s version of a cat fight. It was a women’s singles encounter featuring a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist England’s Natalie Chestney, who won in Dehli in 2010; up against Scotland’s Caroline Brown, who has three world championship gold medals to her credit – the indoor singles at Potters in 2007, World Cup singles at Warilla in 2014 and the 2012 world fours in Adelaide.
The quality of bowls was exceptional as Chestney demonstrated the class that elevated her to the dizziest heights. After scores were level at 9-9 at eleven ends, the England star restricted Brown to just three scoring ends for the rest of the match, winning 21-14.
At major international events sectional top finishers graduate immediately to the semi finals, while the next two best finishers are sent to the elimination rounds.
Tomorrow at Dinas Powys, Scotland takes on England and Kenya plays Zimbabwe in women’s fours at 9.30am, with winners to play South Africa and Wales respectively at Barry Athletic at 2.30. Similarly, Malta plays Ireland along with Jersey against Guernsey in men’s pairs at Dinas Powys at 9.30am, with the winners heading to Barry Athletic in the afternoon to take on the mighty England and Scotland teams in the semi finals at 2.30pm.
Conversely, Barry Athletic will host England against Malta and Jersey versus Namibia in the morning men’s triples, with winners pitted against Scotland and South Africa respectively at Dinas Powys in the afternoon.
The blue ribbon women’s singles at Barry will see Natalie Chestney (England) v Colleen Piketh (South Africa) and Cindy Royet (France) v Ruti Gilor (Israel) at 9.30am – the winners playing Lucy Beere (Guernsey) and Caroline Brown (Scotland) respectively at Dinas Powys in the afternoon.
Wanderers blow Ynys away
CARMARTHEN Wanderers earned their second win of the season on Saturday (May 11) as they beat Ynystawe by 26 runs.
Ynystawe won the toss and elected to field and they bowled well as they restricted the Wanderers to 142-7.
However, Robbie Crawford took four wickets for the home side to help them to victory.
The Wanderers lost Leighton Walters early on when he was caught off the bowling of Rhys Palmer but Crawford and Stephen Inward then shared 50 runs for the second wicket.
Crawford made a patient 23 with one boundary but he was then trapped leg before by Andrew Beasley.
Inward hit five fours as he scored 34 but he was stumped off the bowling of Tom Morgan and the Wanderers had slipped to 87-3.
Gareth Thomas hit 20 but also fell to the bowling of Morgan while Owain Binding was trapped leg before by Carl Roberts on a score of 14.
Roberts then removed Owain Davies on a score of 12 and Steven Mills was then bowled by Alex Fletcher.
Darrell Griffiths was not out on 12 but it wasn’t enough to help Carmarthen pass 150 runs.
Tom Blake and Morgan Hodges then got the visitors off to a good start in their reply as they shared 30 runs for the opening stand.
Owain Binding made the breakthrough for the Wanderers as he had Blake caught by Ifan Knott on a score of 7.
Andrew Beasley fell for the same score when he was bowled by Gareth Thomas, leaving Ynystawe on 49-2.
Hodges then shared another 37 runs with Carl Roberts and it looked as if they would reach their target but the Wanderers had other ideas.
Steven Mills trapped Roberts leg before on a score of 14 and soon after, Hodges, who hit two fours and two sixes in his knock of 45 from 112 balls, was caught by Darrell Griffiths off the bowling of Thomas.
That left the visitors on 91-4 but they were still in a good position.
Leighton Walters and Robbie Crawford were brought on to bowl and wickets soon started to fall.
Walters had Tom Davies caught by Thomas and Crawford then bowled Dean Price to reduce Ynystawe to 110-6.
Crawford then bowled Alex Fletcher and Rhys Palmer while Walters had Tom Morgan caught by Thomas on a score of 13 and the visitors had collapsed to 112-9.
Crawford then wrapped up the innings with his fourth wicket as Ynystawe were bowled out for 116.
On Saturday (May 18), the Wanderers are away as they take on Panteg.
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