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Bangor loss lets off sloppy Town

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Dafabet Welsh Premier League

Rhyl 1

Carmarthen Town 0

Liam Thomas: Grapples with John Owen (Pic Gareth Hughes)

Liam Thomas: Grapples with John Owen (Pic Gareth Hughes)

CARMARTHEN TOWN went into this match knowing that to ensure they preserved their UEFA qualifying play-off place they needed to defeat Rhyl – the result of the concurrent Aberystwyth/Bangor game would then be rendered irrelevant.

As it was they lost a frustrating game, but it was to be of no concern as Aberystwyth did them a huge favour by defeating Bangor, the only team who could topple them.

The Old Gold were cheered on by a group of some 20 faithful supporters (probably the largest number to have travelled to a North Wales fixture for many seasons), but the team managed to excite and frustrate those fans in equal measure.

While they dominated proceedings for much of the match, sadly through a combination of wasteful finishing, erratic passing and occasionally resolute Rhyl defending they failed to find the net. And to compound their misery they succumbed to the only on-target shot the home side could manage during the entire game.

Town began with clear positive intent, launching a series of piercing raids with an urgency and energy that put the visitors’ defence under immediate pressure.

After 6 minutes they fashioned their first decent chance when a swift break from midfield led to Kyle Bassett surging deep into the penalty area then neatly playing the ball back to Mark Jones but from 12 yards he fired too high.

Moments later a Bassett cornerkick reached Liam Thomas who produced a smart looping header that ‘keeper Michael Askew, at full stretch, tipped just over the bar.

Then on 14 minutes Lewis Harling sent a long, headed pass into the penalty area and though the ball was cleared it went straight to Thomas and he instantly struck a crisp 20 yard drive that Askew blocked with a fine reflex save. And straightaway the ‘keeper was again called on to claim Jones’ close-range header that stemmed from Dan Sheehan’s inviting cross from the right touchline.

In the 21st minute a delightful exchange of passes between Jones and Harling led to Thomas receiving the ball on the edge of the penalty area and he released a fierce shot that Askew, once more, was well-placed to resist.

Then Kieran Lewis delivered a searching free kick deep into the packed goalmouth where Dave Vincent rose high above surrounding defenders only to direct his header narrowly wide of the far post.

The Old Gold continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and territorial advantage. Rhyl, when they did occasionally break forward on the counter-attack, were unable to penetrate the visitors’ defence in which Dwaine Bailey featured prominently – and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested. His involvement was essentially confined to dealing with a few crosses, corners and free kicks, which he accomplished with his customary authority and secure handling.

On 32 minutes Town again went close when Lewis produced a superb through ball that set Jones free to race beyond the home defence and into the penalty area but Askew, who had advanced well out of his goal, just managed to turn the striker’s curling shot safely aside.

Shortly afterwards another slick passing move involving Bassett, Lewis and Sheehan finished with the raiding fullback firing a promising closerange angled drive that was deflected marginally past the post by a defender.

Given this sustained pressure and surfeit of scoring opportunities, it seemed only a matter of time before a goal would arise – and it did, only not at the expected end of the pitch.

In the 45th minute Ibou Touray sent a long free-kick deep into the penalty area where Greg Stones headed the ball back into the centre and while Town’s defenders were slow to react to the danger, Luke Wandless moved forward unchallenged and from 12 yards struck home to give Rhyl an unlikely lead.

After the interval the play developed into a more evenly balanced, end-to-end affair although there were, by comparison with the first-half, very few decent scoring opportunities. Rhyl continued to struggle in making any impression on the visitors’ defence, while the Old Gold seemed to be running out of ideas going forward.

Even so, Town almost snatched an equaliser on 57 minutes when Bassett, from the right touchline drove the ball low into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas reacted swiftly to glance it narrowly wide of the near post.

Then in the 77th minute Sacha Walters sent a searching right-wing cross deep into the penalty area to find Jones who headed it back to substitute Danny Thomas but he saw his smart 15 yard drive diverted just over the bar by a defender.

Unfortunately as the game, which had been very keenly contested from the outset, entered its closing stages it became rather more combative leading to the dismissal of two players. On 88 minutes Rhyl defender Chay Dysart was shown the red card for a dangerous tackle on Lewis who had to be helped off the field and was immediately substituted.

Then deep into added time Luke Prosser was similarly sent off for lunging into a challenge for the ball with Askew who always looked better placed to claim it – and while contact, if any, may have been minimal, it was a needless challenge at a time when Town could never recover to win the game.

But at the final whistle Carmarthen’s disappointment over failing to secure their hoped for victory quickly evaporated as news filtered through that Bangor, the only team that could have finished above the Old Gold but to do so needed to win at Aberystwyth, had been soundly beaten.

So Town achieve their aim and proceed to the play-offs – however who they play, and where and when, remains uncertain until the Welsh Cup final between TNS and Airbus UK on May 2nd is decided.

Team: Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan; Luke Prosser; Dwaine Bailey; Jordan Knott; Dave Vincent; Lewis Harling (sub Danny Thomas 74); Kieran Lewis (sub Luke Cummings 88); Kyle Bassett (sub Sacha Walters 62); Mark Jones; Liam Thomas.

Unused Sub: Ceri Morgan.

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Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’

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EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.

Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.

49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.

In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.

“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.

“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.

“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”

Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.

Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.

He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.

Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,

“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”

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Wanderers seal win over Gorseinon

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CARMARTHEN Wanderers secured a much-needed win on Saturday (Jun 11) as they beat Gorseinon by 98 runs.

Gorseinon won the toss and elected to field and they watched on as the Wanderers reached 211-8 from their 50 overs.

Owain Davies and Ifan Knott got the Wanderers going with an opening partnership of 78 runs in which Knott raced to his half century.

Davies reached a score of 16 but he was stumped by Greg Fisher off the bowling of Matthew Roberts.

Binding then fell to John Mann as the Wanderers lost a couple of quick wickets.

Knott had hit nine fours in his score of 57 but he was then caught by Fisher off the bowling of Roberts.

Gareth Thomas was then bowled by Rhys Barlow as the Wanderers slipped to 94-4.

Robbie Crawford and Tom Davies got their side going again as they shared 45 runs for the fifth wicket.

Crawford hit a four and a six in his score of 28 but he was bowled by Gafyn Donald. Moments later Davies fell on a score of 13 to Kieran Howells.

Mann then bowled Owen Bailey before Daniel Jones and Liam Rogers shared 43 runs for the eighth wicket.

Rogers smashed two fours and two sixes in his score of 30 from 16 balls but he was out to the bowling of Howells.

Jones finished unbeaten on 26, having hit two sixes, while Carmarthen’s score was also helped along by 28 extras.

Gorseinon slipped to 34-3 early in their reply as Chris Turrell claimed two wickets.

Christopher Morgan and Gafyn Donald shared 39 runs for the fourth wicket but when Morgan was trapped leg before by Iestyn Scourfield on a score of 16, Gorseinon’s innings began to fall apart.

Donald then fell in similar fashion on a score of 36 and Scourfield then had Chris Mee caught by Ifan Knott and Jamie Mann caught and bowled.

That left the home side on 97-7 and Owain Binding then got in on the act as he had Greg Fisher caught by Liam Rogers.

Alex Lang fell for a score of 12 to Gareth Thomas before Binding bowled Rhys Barlow to bring the game to a close.

It meant that Gorseinon were bowled out for just 113, giving the Wanderers a big victory.

On Saturday, June 18, the Wanderers travel to Chepstow.

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Council pays tribute to Welsh rugby legend Phil Bennett

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council Leader Cllr Darren Price has paid tribute to Welsh rugby hero Phil Bennett who has sadly passed away after a long illness.

Regarded as one of world’s greatest rugby players, the sporting legend from Felinfoel in Llanelli, died on Sunday, aged 73.

Benny, as he was affectionately known, won 29 caps for Wales from 1969 to 1978, played for his beloved Scarlets 413 times and starred for the Lions on two tours, to South Africa in 1974 and as Captain in New Zealand three years later.

He was awarded the OBE in 1979 for his services to sport and inaugurated into World Rugby’s Hall of Fame in 2005.

Cllr Price, speaking on behalf of the council, said: “Phil Bennett was a true rugby icon, and an inspiration to us all. He was a global superstar of the golden era of Welsh rugby, and will be remembered not just for his immense skill on the rugby pitch, but for his enthusiasm and passion for local sport, and his valued contribution to the local community.

“Phil worked as part of the council’s community sports development team for a number of years, and made a huge impact on both our young and older people across Carmarthenshire.

“He will be greatly missed by all, and our thoughts and condolences are with Phil’s family and friends at this sad time.”

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