IT turned out to be a satisfactory afternoon for Llanelli Town, for as well as opening up a four point gap between themselves and their visitors at the foot of the table, courtesy of a brace by James Loveridge, the two teams immediately above them, Carmarthen Town and Cefn Druids, both lost, closing the points gap to five and six respectively.
Four new players made their debuts, although three of them – Scott Coughlan, Lee Bevan and Luke Morgan – are all ex-Reds, but the signing of Swansea City legend, Leon Britton, is probably the biggest coup the club has made, and is a tremendous morale-booster, both to the team and the Welsh Premier League.
Hopefully, his vast experience playing at the highest level will be the spur the Reds need to extricate themselves from their present predicament, and ensure their survival at the end of the season.
Llandudno, too, have been busy in the transfer window, bringing in Les Davies, Ryan Wade and Zebb Edwards who were all named in the starting line-up, and they were the first to threaten when a Toby Jones corner was headed against the bar by George Harry before the danger was cleared.
A run by Harry up the middle saw him unleash a shot which Coughlan dealt with comfortably, but he earned his reward on 12 minutes by putting the visitors ahead, meeting a ball into him on the half volley before turning and beating the home keeper.
The hosts were struggling somewhat to establish a foothold in the game, and they were hard pressed at times to contain their opponents, typified when Mark Connolly sent Harry clear up the right, and his delivery into the goalmouth could have gone anywhere, but deflected for a corner.
As the contest progressed, the Reds began to come to grips with proceedings, and Kurtis March fired wide of the near post from a Jordan Davies assist, before they levelled matters on the half hour through Loveridge, who seized on a pass by Chris Jones to beat goalkeeper Shaun Pearson inside his near post
The home striker went close again shortly after, seeing his finish flash fractionally wide, while Davies failed to make a clean connection when he was found in the box.
But within seven minutes of the equaliser, Loveridge struck again to notch up his brace when he was the recipient of a pass from Davies, before once again beating the Llandudno keeper with a well taken finish.
Narrowly ahead at the break, the Reds had once again to withstand some early pressure after the restart, when Telor Williams, who had replaced Zyaac Edwards at half time, forced Coughlan into a save when he met a cross into the middle.
Joe Clarke then sent Loveridge clear up the right where he made inroads into the box, but his final ball across the face of goal sailed just beyond the back post.
The next home threat arose when Scott Tancock burst through the middle and his fiercely struck shot was parried away by Pearson with Clarke meeting the rebound, only for a timely block to relieve the danger.
The visitors retaliated through Jones whose delightful delivery sent Alun Webb clear on a run down the right flank, and he cut inside but dragged his finish across the net and wide of the target.
With Llandudno desperately attempting to grab an equaliser, the Reds goal was surviving some close calls at times, but somehow it held out with Bevan a rock at the back, and when they countered, Loveridge, who was having an outstanding match, twice almost added to the tally.
He then set up Davies by crossing the ball into the goalmouth, but somehow the chance was lost when Pearson was able to hold on to the finish from point blank range.
The visitors might well have levelled matters shortly before the final whistle, when a corner by Jones found Davies, but he directed his header inches wide from a good position.
The home side hung on to clinch three precious points, and now face a visit to The New Saints on Saturday evening (Jan 12) for their final game prior to the mid-season split. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.
Ingledon stars as Laugharne sweep Town aside
LAUGHARNE remain second in Division 3 after they beat Haverfordwest Thirds by 150 runs in Division 3 of the Pembrokeshire League on Saturday (May 18).
The Carmarthenshire-side batted first and made an impressive total of 217-8 from their 45 overs.
James Ingledon was the mainstay of the innings as he top scored with 71 while he was supported by Carl Stephenson who scored 26.
Andrew Edwards added 22 and Kevin Pearce scored 21 as Town struggled to keep them below 200 runs.
Alistair Dyer was the pick of the bowlers for Town with two wickets for the loss of 22 runs.
There was also two wickets for Paul Jenkins (2-45) and Will Phillips (2-45).
Having starred with the bat, Ingledon then did so with the ball as he took five wickets for the loss of only 16 runs.
Carl Smith also took three for the loss of 15 runs as they helped bowl Haverfordwest out for just 67.
Jason Phillips top scored with 18 for Town but it did little to affect the outcome of the game.
The win keeps Laugharne nine points behind leaders Herbrandston who they play in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl tonight.
On Saturday (May 25), Laugharne are away to Llanrhian while Haverfordwest Thirds are at home to Narberth Seconds.
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.
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