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Town’s Euro dream falls at first hurdle

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Connah’s Quay 2

Carmarthen Town 0

Lee Idzi: Saves from Jamie Crowther

Lee Idzi: Saves from Jamie Crowther

CARMARTHEN TOWN’S season, and their quest for a place in the Europa League, petered out with this disappointing result at Connah’s Quay despite a highly-spirited performance from what was, on the day, an understrength squad.

Town, who are already operating with probably the smallest playing squad in the Welsh Premier League, entered this crucial match seriously disadvantaged by the absence, due to injuries and suspension, of four regular match-day players.

This meant that manager Mark Aizlewood could name only three substitutes, comprising his reserve goalkeeper and two outfield players who have had barely two hours of WPL football between them this season.

The early stages of the game were fairly scrappy with neither side seemingly able to come to terms with the strong, swirling wind blowing down the length of the pitch resulting in an abundance of misplaced passes and few cohesive moves.

But with the elements in their favour Connah’s Quay were able to apply some early pressure with the play largely confined to the visitors’ half – and while they succeeded in forcing a series of corners, none led to any notable scoring chances.

Yet the hosts did manage to take an early lead after just 5 minutes.

A long throw-in from Les Davies into the packed goalmouth created uncertainty in the Town defence and although ‘keeper Lee Idzi was clearly unfairly impeded by George Horan as he leapt to claim the ball (and this was later confirmed by TV replays of the incident) incredibly the offence was missed by the match officials – Nick Rushton went on to fire the loose ball home from 6 yards.

It was from another set piece that the Nomads again went close on 26 minutes when from Wes Baynes’ corner-kick Davies directed a close range header narrowly over the bar. Then in the 30th minute Nathan Woolfe cut inside from the right flank and dispatched a fierce 20 yard drive that Idzi resisted with a superb flying save to turn the ball onto the bar and away to safety.

And shortly afterwards Rushton surged down the left wing and from the corner of the penalty area struck a promising angled shot that nestled in the side-netting.

During these initial stages the Old Gold had enjoyed only a limited share of possession and struggled to make any significant forward progress in the face of the strong wind and some solid Nomads’ defending – but gradually, from the half-hour mark, there were clear signs of improvement as influential midfielders Lewis Harling and Kieran Lewis, with their industry and vision, began to orchestrate more penetrative attacks.

On 42 minutes Lewis sent a searching corner deep into the penalty area where Liam Thomas, from the sharpest of angles, produced a crisp strike that only narrowly cleared the bar.

Moments later Luke Cummings, on the right touchline, crossed the ball inside to Harling who instantly set it up for Lewis and from 20 yards he dispatched a stunning volley that flew just fractionally too high.

After the interval Carmarthen, now with the strong wind in their favour, took the early initiative by launching a series of piercing raids with an urgency and energy that put the visitors’ defence under immediate pressure – but, sadly, not a single decent scoring chance emerged from this spell of ascendancy.

Then cruelly, as is often the case, completely against the run of play Connah’s Quay extended their lead on 63 minutes. Davies delivered another long throw into the penalty area where Baynes struck a weak shot that somehow managed to find its way through a crowd of players and into the visitors’ net.

The Old Gold responded immediately to that setback with a further period of pressure, which, in the 78th minute, looked to have brought them a well-earned reward.

Substitute Danny Thomas finished a strong run through the middle with a precise lofted pass to Mark Jones who headed the ball forward to set Liam Thomas racing into the penalty area only to be pulled down by defender Danny Harrison who was immediately sent-off by the referee.

Carmarthen’s marksman, who just 3 games ago confidently converted a vital last-minute penalty at Bangor, stepped forward once again only to drive his spot-kick straight at keeper Jon Rushton who managed to kick the ball clear.

Undeterred, Town pressed forward with increased intensity. On 86 minutes Lewis delivered another inviting freekick into the packed goalmouth where Dwaine Bailey saw his close-range effort blocked by Rushton and while the ball fell nicely for Mark Jones, he blasted it over the bar from 6 yards.

Then a neat pass by Lewis provided Jordan Knott with the opportunity to dispatch a 20 yard drive that was well held by Rushton.

And in a final flurry of Old Gold attacking activity Lewis produced a dangerous in-swinging corner that a Nomads defender headed off the goalline before a delightful cross-field pass by Harling found Knott near the corner of the penalty area and he struck a fine volley that slid narrowly wide of the post.

So, Connah’s Quay survived and now proceed to the UEFA qualifying play-off final, leaving Town to reflect on the fact that despite all their highlycommendable effort and commitment they were denied that little bit of luck that so frequently makes the difference between winning and losing.

Team:

Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan; Dave Vincent; Dwaine Bailey; Jordan Knott; Luke Cummings (sub Danny Thomas 66); Lewis Harling; Kieran Lewis; Sacha Walters (sub Glen Fearn 80); Mark Jones; Liam Thomas.

Unused Sub: James Kirkwood.

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Ammanford upset Penybont to reach MG Cup quarter finals

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Report by Ian Parfitt

AMMANFORD produced arguably the shock of the third round in the MG Nathaniel Cup with a 2-1 victory at Penybont, who currently sit third in the Cymru Premier League, on Tuesday night (Sept 20).

Penybont started the game well and looked dangerous with ex Ammanford player Kai Whitmore calling the shots.

Ammanford however were also playing some neat football themselves and this was quickly becoming a competitive contest.

Ammanford took the lead in the 28th minute when Brett Enoch took advantage of a moment of calamity in the Penybont defence to fire home.

As expected Penybont increased the pressure on the Ammanford goal in search of an equaliser but Ammanford held firm to go into the interval ahead.

Kyle Marsh in particular having a fine game in the Ammanford goal. Ammanford fans would have been expecting a long 45 minutes after the break but it only took a minute for Penybont to find the equaliser, Mael Davies scoring with a firm header.

Penybont were hungry for more goals and looked especially dangerous from the flanks. The Ammanford defence, who were superb throughout held firm under a barrage of high balls into the box.

Ammanford were also keen to get a second and looked dangerous on the counter attack, both Jordan Langley and Callum Silcox going agonisingly close to restoring the visitors’ lead.

The Ammanford defence continued to form a formidable wall at the back which Penybont were unable to breach.

This fantastic rearguard action was rewarded in the 81st minute when Callum Thomas scored what turned out to be the winner for Ammanford, running through on goal and producing a composed finish to slot the ball past Penybont keeper Alex Pennock.

Ammanford players continued to put their bodies on the line to preserve the lead, epitomised by Tom Pratt who took one on the head in the six yard box.

Lee Trundle spurned a glorious chance to make the game safe for Ammanford with a couple of minutes remaining but it mattered not as the final whistle produced jubilant scenes in the away camp.

Ammanford progress to the Fourth round on what was a glorious night for the club.

Photos by Lawrence Molloy
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Strong Ammanford performance seals Cup win over Whitland

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AMMANFORD got their Division 1 Cup campaign off to an excellent start on Saturday (Sept 17) as they beat Whitland 42-13.

Ammanford built up a 17-3 lead and increased that further to 8-29 before pulling away in the closing stages.

Geraint Jones scored a penalty for Whitland and unconverted tries from Gino Setaro and Lewis Gibby followed.

Captain Alex Davies was named as Ammanford’s man of the match as he lead his side to a bonus point win.

The scrum half was among the try scorers as were Morgan Plimmer, Rhodri Jones, Liam Smith, Carwyn Richards, Mathew Lemon and Tiaan Evans.

Ryan Williams added four conversions and one penalty for the visitors.

The next round of Cup fixtures is scheduled for October 15. Ammanford host Newcastle Emlyn while Whitland travel to Tondu.

Ammanford return to action in League 1 West Central on Saturday, September 24 as they host Birchgrove.

Whitland are also back in league action in League 1 West as they visit Pembroke.

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Howell’s strike takes the points for Cwm

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CWMAMMAN United earned their first three points of the season with an impressive all round performance as they overcame Cardiff Darconians through a sublime Gwion Howell finish at Grenig park on Saturday (Sept 17).

Cwm started on the front foot and their passing and movement was excellent and they twice came close early with Gwion Howell clipping the outside of the post while Sion Dafydd Williams pounced on a back pass but could just not quite get enough leverage on his attempt.

They then saw a 25th min goal by Williams ruled out for a tight offside. With Charlie Davies and Scott Jewell having strong games in the middle of the park Cwm looked the likeliest to score but there was a real scare when a defensive slip required a superb save from Kai Rees in the Cwm goal to keep it goalless.

Kyle Ashford and Keiran Richards continued to run hard at the Dracs defence causing problems but the first half remained goalless.

The strong second half push back that Cwm expected from the Cardiff side didn’t materialise and Cwm continued to have the better of the play. Grant Rees and Callum Dougal were strong at the heart of the defence while Leon Coucher and the ever threatening Cory Saunders were launching attacks from out wide.

Eventually the goal came when some neat interplay saw Howell with his back to goal and the ball at his feet. A superb turn moved the ball to one side and he then fired it across the keeper to the opposite corner..

Great celebrations before Cwm immediately settled determined to see this one through. With Davies continuing to push his team forward and subs Alex Giardelli and Harrison Thomas stretching the Dracs side Cwm saw it through without too much worry.

An excellent performance of which manager Paul Lewis said: “Great to get that first win with the boys who applied our team plan superbly today and they really deserved that result.”

Cwm now look forward to another challenge as they travel to play near neighbours Garden village on Friday evening (Sept 23).

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