Haverfordwest County 1
Carmarthen Town 2
CARMARTHEN completed their pre-season programme with a narrow victory over old rivals Haverfordwest after a competitive and often feisty encounter, which presented a suitably stern test for the Old Gold ahead of their opening match of the Welsh Premier League season.
From the outset, Town took the initiative with a series of brisk raids that put the home defence under early pressure. However, it was not until the eighth minute that they fashioned a serious scoring opportunity when Kyle Bassett made ground down the right flank and played the ball across the edge of the penalty area, where Lewis Harling slipped neatly past his marker and struck a crisp drive that was denied by keeper Wyn Walters with a smart full-length save.
During this spell, County were limited to only occasional counter-attacks, none of which made any real impression on the visitors’ defence, in which the towering central pairing of Dwaine Bailey and Lee Surman were, throughout the match, a particularly commanding presence.
In fact, the hosts had to wait 22 minutes before they managed to get into the Carmarthen penalty area and create a scoring chance; a long cross-field pass from Luke Harris reached Kristian Speake near the far post but he directed his header wide of the goal.
The Old Gold continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, yet, all too often, they spoilt promising approach play with an indecisive ‘final pass’.
However, they went close to taking the lead on 29 minutes when Bassett sent a well-flighted corner into the packed goalmouth to find Liam Thomas, whose deft glancing header from 10 yards flew past Walters but also, sadly, went narrowly wide of the post.
By now, Haverfordwest were looking much more of a threat on the counter-attack and after 31 minutes, rather against the run of play, they opened the score. Following Chris O’Sullivan’s corner, Ashley Bevan emerged from a crowd of players to send his close-range header beyond the reach of keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.
Stung by that setback, Town again pressed forward, now with even greater urgency, driven by the midfield industry and invention of Harling, Ceri Morgan, Kieran Lewis and Declan Carroll.
Faced by a resilient County defence and with Walters demonstrating assured and safe handling under pressure, the visitors were unable to create any notable goal threat until the 47th minute when Lewis fired a diagonal free-kick deep into the penalty area where Matthew Thomas, from a sharp angle, struck a fierce volley fractionally wide of the post.
After the interval, the Old Gold renewed their assault on the home defence and on 50 minutes, they went close to equalising when Harling’s astute pass put Carroll in clear space and from 20 yards he dispatched a rasping drive that Walters was well placed to claim.
Just moments later, Town produced a sparkling 90 second spell which turned the game around. In the 53rd minute, Lewis played an excellent through balla to Matthew Thomas who quickly moved forward to the corner of the penalty area and released a stunning angled shot that flew past Walters and into the back of the net.
Shortly after the re-start, Carroll, clearly relishing this opportunity to compete against his former County teammates, showed keen anticipation to race into the penalty area and dart between two less alert defenders to reach a long cross from the right flank then plant his firm close-range header beyond the keeper’s reach.
While the visitors continued to hold the initiative, Haverfordwest remained a threat on the counter-attack and after 62 minutes, Tom Wellington sent a searching free-kick into the packed goalmouth only to see Bevan fire the ball just wide from close range.
On 65 minutes, Liam Thomas collected a long clearance from Dave Vincent then raced forward down the right flank before driving a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Mark Jones, under pressure from a defender, stabbed the ball narrowly wide.
During the second-half, the Carmarthen defence was so relatively secure that Idzi was rarely tested. However, in the 68th minute, Rhys Dalling took advantage of some hesitancy in the back-line to break through to the edge of the penalty area and drill a low shot that drew an impressive reflex save from Town’s experienced keeper.
Then Carroll again went close after 72 minutes when, having won a free-kick some 25 yards from goal, he stepped up to power the ball just fractionally over the bar.
In the 83rd minute, a slick exchange of passes between Carroll and Jones on the edge of the penalty area opened up the County defence and allowed the lively midfielder to hit a smart close-range effort that was blocked on the line by substitute keeper Sam Franklin.
So, after a fairly successful pre-season campaign, albeit against mainly Welsh League Division One opposition, the Old Gold now look forward to the start of their WPL season on Saturday (Aug 13 k/o 5.15pm – match due to be televised live on S4C) when they entertain Gap Connah’s Quay at Richmond Park.
Late goal sees Lido beat Ammanford
Report and photo courtesy of Ian Parfitt
AMMANFORD suffered the heartbreak of late defeat at Afan Lido on Friday night with an 87th minute winner from Liam Griffiths securing a 2-1 win and all three points for the hosts.
Afan Lido started the match on the front foot and Ammanford were clearly struggling with the pace on Lido’s flanks. A foul in the box led to a penalty for Lido in the 11th minute which was dispatched by Chris Jones.
Afan Lido were largely on top in the first half however were unable to add to their goal. Ammanford were restricted to half chances although Callum Silcox did hit the post with an angled shot.
Ammanford would have hoped for an early goal in the second half and that’s exactly what they got in the 48th minute, the excellent Jordan Langley spotting the keeper off his line and hitting a looping shot into the net from 30 yards.
This goal clearly settled Ammanford and spurred on by a vociferous away support went in search of a second goal.
Afan Lido rode their luck in the 63rd minute when Owyn Airey smashed a shot against the bar.
Callum Silcox then forced Lido keeper Steve Cann into an excellent save in the 74th minute with a rasping, long range effort.
Ammanford looked the most likely team to score and had several other opportunities which they failed to convert.
Ammanford were playing well with Morgan Clarke particularly influential in midfield.
Just when it looked as if a hard fought contest was heading for a draw Griffiths swept home from close range in the 87th minute following a Lido corner.
Ammanford frantically went in search of a second equaliser in the time that remained but this eluded them and the final whistle brought about feelings of what could have been for the away team.
Ammanford will look to put things right in their next match, a home encounter against Goytre Utd on Friday (Sept 30).
Williams’ wonder strike sinks Village
CWMAMMAN United came away from a hard fought match at near neighbours Garden Village in front of a large crowd with the three points following a powerful strike from Sion Dafydd Williams.
It was the second win on the trot for Cwm and manager Paul Lewis will have been especially pleased with a second consecutive clean sheet.
Cwm started well and dominated the first half that saw a Cory Saunders inswinging corner beat everyone and bounce out off the far post while Williams then later saw his shot agonisingly trickle past the post.
A high ball in to the Village box then hit the defender’s hand and Cwm had a penalty. Kyle Ashford struck it well but it was a tad too high and Wyn Walters made an excellent save. Charlie Davies then had an opportunity following a great move but fired just wide.
Ross Morgan, Ashford and Davies were dominating midfield while Grant Rees and Callum Dougal in the heart of the defence were controlling the Village attacks.
The goal was coming but not expected as spectacularly as it did when in the 39th minute a cross into the box saw Sion Dafydd Williams leaving Walters with no chance as he rocketed the ball into the net from the edge of the box as he seemed to be facing away from goal.
As the first period Garden Village will have been relieved to see half time just a goal down and will have been happy that they were still in it.
The second half saw a more even game with Walters again making excellent saves from Keiran Richards and from a Williams header. Village were now breaking more and Kai Rees who had tidied up excellently behind the Cwm defence throughout had to make a great finger tip save in the 70th minute.
Both sides then had to make changes due to injury with Cwm losing Leon Croucher, Williams and Richards to be replaced by Harrison
Thomas, Jordan Sullivan and Alex Giardelli returning to his old club.
Cwm seemed to be seeing the game out comfortably but had a late scare when Giardelli was given a red card for a reckless challenge in the 98th minute and nervously had to defend one last free kick.
An important win in the context of the season and Cwm now entertain Treharris Athletic on Saturday, October 1, at Grenig Park, 2.30pm
Amman earn first win of the season
AMMAN United claimed their first win of the season after an opening-day draw, and a cup defeat at Haverfordwest last weekend.
However, you would have been hard pushed to imagine a 50-point final-score when, just before half time, the score remained 0-0.
But two injury time scores had then given Amman an unlikely 12-0 interval lead against the Bulldogs.
A bright opening from United saw centre Gavin Lewis, on yet another comeback, show his trickery with a nice run and offload early on. Hooker George Clark had a fine game and was in the thick of everything, as were fellow forwards Iwan Davies, Dan Jones, Rhydian Jones and captain Alun Lewis.
Bynea suffered a very early blow, losing Corey Butler to an untimely injury, and they were later to also see Jamie Thomas limp off before half time.
These injuries meant a large period of added-time, and the Bulldogs’ valiant defence cracked during the injury-time as Joel Foster and Alun Lewis combined to put in flanker Rhydian Jones for the opening try, which Tom Caddell converted.
A frustrating couple of minutes for the visitors was compounded when a quick tap and go penalty from scrum half Foster saw him smuggle over the try line for a second try on the stroke of half time.
The Reds continued in good heart after the restart, and after some good play,Foster and and Dan Jones were involved before Rhydian Jones slipped a fine offload to skipper Alun Lewis who went under the posts for another converted try.
Another “vet” came on, Adrian Thomas off the bench as the home side largely dominated with their pack in the ascendency, Cian Lewis, Jason Knell and Rhys Phillips having put in a good shift throughout.
The Bulldogs then had a purple patch for a while,centre Jack Mal almost finishing off a fine move, before more calamity struck for them as Jake Sam was sadly stretchered off.
Amman capitalised and grabbed a bonus point try when the excellent George Clarke went over for another score to make it 24-0.
But the dogged visitors were always a threat, and carved out an excellent try for their efforts as wing Nathan Baker finished off a well-worked team move, which outside half Finlay Cook converted.
Amman hit back when the back row combined well before Dan Jones went over the whitewash for a try.
A very young Bynea side battled to the end,and some more excellent play was rewarded with a try for Tom Badger, converted by Cook.
However, the home side had the last word and grabbed a very late injury time try as the industrious Rhydian Jones crossed for the final score of the game.
Amman face a tough trip to Tumble on Saturday, October 1, while Bynea are home against New Dock Stars.
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