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Bowen double sinks Reds

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WHAT a difference a New Year makes – after Carmarthen’s deeply disappointing performance at Llanelli on Boxing Day, for this festive holiday reverse fixture (Jan 1) they thrilled their supporters by producing a brand of possession football laced with exhilarating fast attacking play that has rarely been seen in recent seasons.

The Old Gold took the initiative from the start with a series of rapid penetrating bursts from midfield that seriously tested the visitors’ defence. After 3 minutes a sequence of crisp passes across the field finished with Sean Hanbury firing a searching left-wing cross into the goalmouth where Greg Walters’ close-range shot was blocked in front of the goal before the ball was cleared safely away.

Then following a further spell of sustained pressure Town took the lead in the 8th minute with a well-executed set-piece finish – Hanbury delivered a fine corner-kick into the crowded penalty area and saw Luke Bowen, arriving with perfect timing to direct a delightful glancing header into the bottom corner of the net.

Carmarthen continued to dominate the play and remarkably it was only after the 19th minute that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was first called into any meaningful action when he comfortably claimed an over-hit cross.

Photo by Darren Harries

However his opposite number, Llanelli’s Oliver Davies, was far busier as the Old Gold poured forward relentlessly. On 22 minutes industrious midfielder Ceri Morgan won the ball off a defender near the corner of the penalty area then slid it forward to Walters – he instantly played it across to Bowen who from 15 yards struck a fierce angled drive that Davies resisted with a superb reflex save.

Moments later Luke Cummings, from the corner of the penalty area, curled a dangerous free-kick towards the far corner of the goal only for Davies to claw the ball away just as Dave Vincent seemed likely to tap it into the net.

With the significant business of the match being largely conducted in the visitors’ half, it was not until the 35th minute that they managed to get a shot on target – a cross from Chris Jones into the penalty area was cleared but the ball fell nicely for Jamie Owen who wasted the opportunity by directing a weak 20 yard effort straight at Idzi which he comfortably saved.

Shortly afterwards they forced Idzi into further action.  Jordan Follows sent a fine pass through to Michael George who raced free into the penalty area only for Town’s experienced ‘keeper to come quickly out of his goal and clear the danger.

The final notable action of the first-half arose at the other end of the pitch. On 44 minutes Bowen, on the right flank, neatly slid the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Walters dispatched a crisp angled strike that flew beyond Davies’ reach but slid narrowly wide of the far post.

After the interval the Old Gold again took the early initiative and went close to extending their lead on 52 minutes when a slick exchange of passes ended with Hanbury firing a cross into the goalmouth – while the ball was cleared by a defender, it was claimed by Walters who instantly released a stunning drive that defeated Davies only to fly marginally outside the post.

However moments later Town deservedly found success – from close to the half-way line Walters, an increasing influential presence in midfield, produced a remarkable long pass that set Bowen racing clear of defenders and into the penalty area where he cleverly “walked” the ball around the advancing Davies and fired it into the empty net.

Then after 68 minutes Mael Davies robbed a defender of the ball on the corner of the penalty area and swiftly fired it across the goalmouth to find Liam Thomas who struck a sharp close-range volley that drew an excellent point-blank save from Oliver Davies to turn the ball around the post.

On 74 minutes the Old Gold continued their dominance of the proceedings when Vincent, on the half-way line, began a delightful six-man passing move that carved open the visitors’ defence and finished with Mael Davies crossing the ball into the goalmouth only for Thomas, arriving at speed, to narrowly fail to reach it for a simple tap-in chance.

By now, however, Town seemed content to simply keep possession and slow down the pace of the game.  Yet in the 82nd minute veteran central defender Lee Surman made a rare excursion upfield in open play when he took the ball forward from the half-way line then played it across to Walters who released a stunning 25 yard strike that drew another excellent flying save from Oliver Davies.

Soon afterwards Aidan O’Kelly, making a welcome return after four months out with a serious injury sustained in only the second match of the season, moved down the left wing then slipped the ball across to Mael Davies who struck a rasping 30 yard drive that Llanelli’s overworked ‘keeper claimed at the foot of the post.

This welcome result not only lifts the Old Gold nine points clear of the relegation places, but also takes them up to eighth position in the Welsh Premier League.

This was a refreshing and thoroughly entertaining performance from the Old Gold – one which hopefully will be often repeated over the rest of this season.

Town’s next fixture is on Saturday, January 5, (k/o 2.30pm) when they travel to Caernarfon for what will undoubtedly be a stern challenge – but they now go there with increased hope.

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Old Gold charged by FAW

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CARMARTHEN Town have been charged with allegedly playing an ineligible player in their 2-0 win over Llanelli Town on New Years Day.

A statement from the Football Association of Wales states that the charge relates to David Vincent who had been suspended having accumulated five yellow cards.

The statement reads: “The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has charged Carmarthen Town AFC under FAW Rule 38.1.6 and Welsh Premier League Rule 18 with allegedly playing an ineligible player during their 2-0 win over Llanelli Town AFC on Tuesday, January 1, 2019.

“The charge relates to the playing of David Vincent, who was suspended as and from December 28, 2018 for one match for the accumulation of five yellow cards.

“Carmarthen have seven business days until January 16, to respond to the charge. The matter will be heard by an FAW Disciplinary Panel at the earliest possible opportunity.”

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Llanelli and Llandovery through in Cup

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LLANELLI and Llandovery are both through to the second round of the WRU National Cup after they secured first round victories on Saturday (Jan 5).

Llandovery eased through to the second round as they scored a century of points against Championship side Beddau.

The Drovers scored 16 tries and 12 conversions with Corey Baldwin scoring four of those tries.

Kristian Jones also scored two tries and had all twelve conversions for a personal points haul of 34.

There were also braces for Joseff Powell and Carwyn Evans. Dino Dallavalle, Lewis Ellis-Jones, Lee Rees, Rhodri Jones and replacement Llew Smith also crossed the whitewash as the home side sealed a 104-0 victory.

Llanelli also went through after also beating Championship side Ystrad Rhondda 18-32.

Taylor Davies was first on the scoresheet for Llanelli and Ashley Sutton then added a penalty. Kalum Evans and Thomas Rogers then scored tries for the visitors while Sutton converted the second of the two.

Gareth George also scored while Rogers grabbed his second try to which Sutton added the extras to seal the win.

Carmarthen Quins were agonisingly knocked out of the first round after a late Rhys Jones penalty gave Ebbw Vale a 19-20 victory.

Aled Thomas scored an early penalty for the Quins to level things up but the Vale took the lead only for Osian Knott to score a try to which Thomas added the extras to level the game at 10-10.

The Vale took the lead again but a Thomas penalty on the stroke of half time kept them in it at 13-17.

Thomas then kicked two second half penalties to put the Quins ahead and it looked as if they would go through but Jones had other ideas as his penalty won it for the Vale.

Newcastle Emlyn bowed out of the competition as they were beaten 21-36 by Premiership strugglers Bargoed.

The Emlyn were very much in the game at half time with the score at 21-22 in favour of Bargoed but they took control in the second half to seal their passage.

The draw for the second round was made on Tuesday (Jan 8) and it saw Llanelli drawn away to fellow Premiership side Pontypridd.

Llandovery were given a home tie against Trebanos who saw off Maesteg Quins in the first round.

Those ties will be played on the weekend of January 26, but before that all sides return to Premiership action on Saturday (Jan 12).

The Quins face Bargoed looking to respond to their Cup defeat while Llandovery are at home to Bedwas and Llanelli are away to Merthyr.

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Blacks hold on to deny Seagulls

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BURRY Port held off a strong second half comeback from Fishguard as they earned victory by a single point in a thrilling game which finished 35-34 in favour of the Blacks on Saturday (Jan 5).

The Blacks were on a five-match losing streak while Fishguard were looking to bounce back after being beaten by Pembroke in their last game.

The game started at a frantic pace with Burry Port’s Luke Ruddal gathering their own kick at kick off and piling on the pressure on the Seagull’s try line, and with quick ruck ball Ruddal darted over for the opening score.

The Blacks definitely had a spring in their step and looked dangerous with ball in hand, a cross field kick looked as if it would bring another score only for winger Tom Davies to just lose control. This didn’t stop the Blacks and from a driving lineout 10m out and the home pack rolling to the try line, the referee awarded a penalty try and yellow card for collapsing the maul.

Burry Port continued to apply the pressure and tried hard to make the extra man count and with Youth winger Tom Davies making up for this early mistake finished a fine try, A penalty soon after by outside half Ceiron Thomas stretched the lead further.

Fishguard however were in no mood to roll over, a rare outing into the Burry Port half saw a lovely cross field kick work perfectly for Ed Bendall to run in unopposed.

This started a period of good play by the visitors and forced Burry Port into some errors and giving Penalties away, and with good field position managed to force another try from close range through Chris Shousha.

Photo by Darren Harries

Burry Port hit straight back with a move on half way slicing the defence apart for winger Tom Davies to race in for this second and the bouns point try.

The game continued to be played at a frantic pace and Burry port were enjoying themseleves, another excellent team try was finished off by that man again Tom Davies who completed his Hat trick and surely left Fishguard to much to do to get back in the game, score 32-10.

The last play of the half from the restart saw Fishguard regain possession and manage to put the Blacks under pressure and after a few advantages from the referee for Burry Port ill-discipline saw a yellow card given to Burry Port.

With Fishguard knowing a penalty wasn’t enough to get back in the game they opted for a scrum and after a few phases a missed tackle allowed Ben John to cross under the posts and give them a lifeline for the second half.

The second half was a totally different affair with Burry Port looking to protect their lead by opting for territory rather than possession and resulted in them kicking far too much ball away.

Fishguard seemed to enjoy having the ball more and with some powerful runners in their ranks started causing Burry Port problems. A few loose kicks were capitalised on by the Fishguard back 3 and after another fine cross field kick saw them get a well-deserved try, scored by Jordan James to make it 32-22 and bring the Seagulls back in the game.

Burry Port failed to convert a few chances and the supporters could sense a bit of uncertainty creeping in. Another yellow card added to the worries of the Burry Port team, and a break by the visitors led to another try from Ed Bendall and the momentum had most definitely shifted to the Seagulls.

The score was now 32-27 and both sides knew the next score would be vital with time running out.

Finally Burry Port stopped kicking the ball away and after a long phase of ball in hand worked their way up field and once in kicking range forced a penalty which fullback Ben Williams put over to put the Blacks a crucial 8 points ahead with only a couple of minutes remaining.

Fishguard had already secured a try bouns point and even though there might not have been enough time to get the two scores needed for victory there was a losing point up for grabs and to their credit they managed just that with the ref calling last play and Fishguard managing to keep the ball alive and James crossed at the death for his second to also get an important score which could prove crucial come the end of season.

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