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Carmarthen Town play first game on new 3G pitch

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CARMARTHEN Town recognised the opening of their long-awaited new 3G surface at Richmond Park with this friendly fixture against Welsh League side Cwmamman United on Monday night (Sept 25).

Overall, it was hardly an exhibition of sparkling, celebration football befitting the occasion despite Town fielding a very strong side against a team that currently lies in the lower half of WL Division One.

However, the Old Gold began promisingly as they enjoyed a lengthy spell of pressure, virtually camped in the visitors’ half albeit without managing any initial serious goal threat.  Then at last, on 12 minutes, they went close to taking the lead – a Kieran Lewis corner found Liam Thomas who, from 15 yards, struck a fierce volley that ‘keeper Rob Jones turned away with a smart save.

Then after 18 minutes Lewis received the ball just inside the penalty area and dispatched a crisp angled drive that Jones kicked away to safety.  Moments later another corner from Lewis was met by Thomas, rising high above defenders, but his header flew narrowly over the bar.

Almost immediately, Town’s influential midfielder set up another chance when he played a fine pass through to Thomas who raced into the penalty area then drove the ball across the face of the goal where Tyler Brock cleanly struck a close-range shot that was blocked on the goal-line by a defender.

To round off this frenetic sequence of goalmouth activity, on 25 minutes Thomas timed his run perfectly to reach yet another corner from Lewis only to see his 10 yard header graze the top of the bar and land safely behind.

During that spell of Old Gold ascendancy Cwmamman had managed, with worrying ease, to pierce the home defence a couple of times with fast counter-attacks along the wings, spoilt only by poor finishing – and when the visitors broke forward again on 35 minutes Carmarthen were made to regret their own profligacy in front of goal.  A slick passing move through the centre channel sliced open the Town defence and finished with Ryan Thomas running clear into the penalty area and from 6 yards he slid the ball past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.

The Old Gold, shaken by that setback, went in search of an equaliser and were close on 40 minutes when a neat interchange of passes between Lewis, Kyle Williams and Thomas finished with Brock releasing a close-range angled strike that Jones, with a fine reaction save, turned over the bar.

However, in the 42nd minute Town eventually found success – but they needed significant help from the opposition defence to achieve it. A hopeless back-pass from a defender was easily intercepted by Kostya Georgievsky who raced forward to the edge of the penalty area then dispatched a rasping drive beyond the ‘keepers’ reach and into the back of the net.

After the interval Carmarthen wasted no time in taking the lead – within 90 seconds of the start they had forced a corner and from Lewis’ perfect delivery Lee Surman powered his header home from close range.

But rather than herald a period of dominance by the Old Gold, that goal served to inspire United into greater effort and urgency as they sought to restore parity.

Although for a lengthy spell the play was fairly evenly balanced with no serious goalmouth action at either end of the pitch, increasingly the WL side were stretching the home defence – and eventually on 66 minutes a piercing pass found Ryan Hurlow sprinting into the penalty area where he struck a 15 yard shot only to be denied by Idzi, racing quickly out of his goal, who produced a stunning reflex save.

Cwmamman continued to threaten with fast, determined breaks from midfield but without success until at last, in the 88th minute, Town’s defence was breached as they failed to deal with a left-wing cross deep into the goalmouth where Hurlow was well placed to stab the ball past substitute ‘keeper Stephen Hall and into the net – a just reward for the visitors’ spirit and persistence.

The Old Gold, however, were simply left to reflect on their failure to capitalise on their early pressure and scoring opportunities, due as much to poor finishing as outstanding defending by the WL side.

Carmarthen now look forward to their first competitive fixture on the new 3G surface on Saturday, September 30, (k/o 2.30pm) when they face Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints, no strangers to such a surface – that should be a real test for the Old Gold.

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Primary Schools Cross Country returns after three-year absence

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THE 33rd edition of the Carmarthenshire Primary Schools Cross Country Championships returned for the first time in three years on Thursday evening, September 29, 2022.

Organised by Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club and supported by Carmarthenshire County Council, the 2022 race moved to a new Carmarthenshire venue at Pembrey Country Park situated between Burry Port and Kidwelly. Prior to 2022, the United Counties Showground in Carmarthen had been the location for three decades.

Several runners have highlighted this event as the start of their running careers that have led to professional contracts and representing Great Britain internationally.

It gave youngsters in four primary school year groups the opportunity to get involved in running and enjoy the race experience alongside their school friends, whether they were experienced club runners or trying out cross country for the very first time.

Approximately 1,200 runners from over forty Carmarthenshire primary schools competed in the evening sunshine.

Watched on by hundreds of parents, family members and teachers, eight races were on offer with the year 3 and year 4’s completing 1km whilst the year 5 and year 6 races were over 1 mile. There were between 100-150 finishers across each year group.

Held on Monks Field within the park next to the National Closed Cycling Circuit and Ski Centre, competitors ran along fast grass and hill sections.

Individual and team awards were presented to the first five in each race and the winning school team in each year group combined – Ysgol Iau Llangennech (Year 3), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 4), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 5) and Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 6).

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to pupils from twenty two schools on the podium.

Top 3 positions:

Year 3 Girls: 1 Erin Jones (Carreg Hirfaen), 2 Farah Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Evie Issac (Swiss Valley)

Year 3 Boys: 1 Daniel James (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Gruff Davies (Rhys Pritchard), 3 Eligh Youngman (Iau Llangennech)

Year 4 Girls: 1 Zara Phillips (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Erin Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Mared Lili Rees (Y Dderwen)

Year 4 Boys: 1 Steffan James (Y Dderwen), 2 Elgan John (Y Bedol), 3 Zyiah Onoh (Mynydd Y Garreg)

Year 5 Girls: 1 Gwenno Jones (Nantgaredig), 2 Emilia Matthews (Pontyberem), 3 Elsie Davies (Saron)

Year 5 Boys: 1 Jasper Davis (Llandovery College), 2 Tai Jones (Y Bedol), 3 Tyler Greggory (Bro Banw)

Year 6 Girls: 1 Manon Phillips (Peniel), 2 Megan Evans (Cynnwyl Elfed), 3 Olwen Williams (Y Dderwen)

Year 6 Boys: 1 Tomos Cai Davies (Y Dderwen), 2 Miles Hayhurst (Ferryside), 3 Jayden Fergus (Saron)

The top 10 individuals in each school year can be viewed here: https://www.carmarthenharriers.co.uk/latest/carmarthenshire-primary-schools-cross-country-championships-2022-makes-a-welcome-return-to-the-county-pembrey-country-park/

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Carmarthenshire man with PTSD to run Cardiff Half for veterans

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A VETERAN from Pont-Henri in Carmarthenshire is putting his best foot forward to supporting wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Anthony Spencer, 34 – who suffers with PTSD after serving two tours of Afghanistan – will be on the start-line of the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on 2 October.

And while he laughs at his “abysmal” training ahead of the event, he says he will pound the streets of Cardiff in order to raise money for True Heroes Racing – the UK’s only motorcycle race team dedicated to supporting UK Service personnel and veterans who are wounded, injured and sick:

“As a military veteran myself who still suffers with PTSD, I understand the difficulty that face those who leave the military with mental, physical or social difficulties. True Heroes Racing is a family open to anyone with military ties and I’m hoping to raise much-needed funds to continue my support for this great cause.”

Spencer joined the military as a Royal Engineer when he turned 16:

“Over the course of my career in the army, I was involved in many incidents. I was part of a frontline patrol unit working with the Afghanistan National Army.

“Perhaps the most catastrophic event was a roadside IED – an improvised explosive device – in Helmand province. It hit me a year or two later and I started drinking more and I was becoming more distant and reserved.

“Even now, it affects me. It impacts on my sleep – I only get a few hours here and there a night. And it affects my anxiety levels which make tasks such as travelling incredibly stressful. Loud noises and day-to-day stresses can seem unbearable.”

He was discharged in 2016 and since then he has thrown himself into work. Now a Chief Technical Officer for a Global Technology company.

“I managed to get a successful job. After having a rough ride of things myself but coming out the other end, I decided to try and do something good.

“There isn’t much support for veterans – medical or financial – so what this race team does is absolutely astonishing. We currently have two riders who are amputees and they are both racing at incredibly high competitive levels against able-bodied riders.”

The bikes are customised so that riders who have disabilities can race:

“The customisation is ground-breaking. We have a variety of veterans and serving personnel racing including an arm amputee so True Heroes Racing have been able to adapt the bike for him. But it all comes at a cost. Racing is an expensive sport and in many cases it can cost £40,000 or more per year to run a bike.

“We’re one big family and lots of people can get involved whether it’s as a mechanic, a photographer, a rider or helping to sell merchandise. It’s a great thing to throw your energy into after leaving the military.”

You can donate to Anthony’s  Justgiving page here: Crowdfunding to Raise vital money for a great cause http://trueheroesracing.co.uk. A unique team for military veterans and serving personal on JustGiving

The Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon sold out earlier this summer, just three and half months after entries going on sale.

The race is on track to generate its £20 millionth pound in fundraising at the 19th edition of the event this year. Race organisers are urging the public to get behind the event to help it reach this incredible milestone. Over £3 million is raised each year via partnerships with over 90 charities.

A record number of runners from outside Wales (both across the UK and overseas) are registered to take part this year. To celebrate, organisers will be using the event as a platform to celebrate Wales; showcasing everything that is so special and distinct about Cymru and to offer visitors a warm Welsh welcome.

The race is now a part of the SuperHalfs – an international half marathon series including races in Lisbon, Prague, Valencia, Copenhagen and Cardiff. It challengers runners to complete the five race circuit in 36 months in order to earn a ‘SuperMedal’ and other exclusive benefits/prizes.

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Old Gold earn big win over Ynyshir

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CARMARTHEN put the disappointment of the defeat against Barry Town in their last Cymru South League match well and truly behind them by inflicting this crushing victory on Ynyshir in this first ever meeting between these clubs.

And the Old Gold put the hosts under pressure from the very start with a series of penetrating attacks. As early as the 1st minute Greg Walters, in his own half, sent a superb pass through to Will Rikard who in turn set Noah Daley racing clear and into the penalty area – however, while his subtle lofted shot defeated goal-keeper Howe the ball flew narrowly over the bar.

Then on 3 minutes Bradley Gibbings sprinted along the right flank and threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but Town’s all-time top scorer saw his crisp drive denied by Howe diving swiftly down to claim the ball.

Town continued to dominate these early stages of the game and, almost predictably, they soon took the lead. In the 13th minute Thomas, from the half-way line, sent a fine pass forward to Rikard who in turn swiftly fed the ball onto Gibbings – the influential midfielder then finished this delightful move by drilling a 15-yard shot beyond Howe’s reach and into the back of the net.

While the Old Gold maintained their hold of the game, for a short spell they seemed unable to test the Ynyshir defence in any meaningful way and with both teams too often guilty of misplacing passes there was little prospect of goalmouth action.

Yet that all changed after 37 minutes. A poor back-pass by an Albions’ defender forced Howe into making a hurried clearance – however Thomas, alert to the situation, blocked the ball at close-range and it rebounded into the net much to his delight.

Encouraged by that success Carmarthen once more began to dominate the play and on 43 minutes they extended their lead. Mathew Delaney embarked on a determined run from the half-way line to reach the by-line before sending a fine cross into the goalmouth where Thomas found space to drive the ball past Howe and into the back of the net.

Then after 45 minutes Gibbings made a strong run into the penalty area and held off two defenders before releasing a fierce shot that Howe, dropping smartly down, managed to turn around the post.

After the interval Ynyshir began positively and were soon rewarded with an early goal. On 48 minutes a smart passing move from the right-wing opened up the Town defence and finished with Cambell, in clear space on the edge of the goal area, firing the ball past goal-keeper Ivan Knott and into the back of the net.

For a spell the Old Gold defence remained under some pressure but it coped capably and no further significant threat to their goal arose.

While the rest of the match was quite evenly-balanced in open play, it was evident that Carmarthen were far more of a threat in sight of goal – and, almost predictably, they extended their lead when on 59 minutes Delaney, from the left flank, sent an inviting free-kick across the face of the goal area and saw Daley, at the far post, tap the ball into the net.

Town went close to scoring again after 71 minutes. Adam John fired a free-kick deep into the goalmouth where Lee Surman saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line – the ball rebounded to Sam Parsons but his follow-up shot was also cleared.

However, the late frenzy of activity in and around the Albions’ penalty area did have a productive ending for the Old Gold when, deep into added time, another corner-kick reached Scott Tancock beyond the far post – he headed the ball back into the packed goalmouth where Parsons forced it into the net.

This win has consolidated Carmarthen’s position in the top six of the Cymru South League and with just 3 points currently separating those clubs every point from forthcoming matches is clearly vital – the next being against Afan Lido on October 1, at Richmond Park k/o 2.30pm.

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