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Old Gold seal double over Aber

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CARMARTHEN completed a very welcome and well-deserved festive double over old rivals Aberystwyth on Monday (Jan 1), with a narrow victory that stemmed from a sensational opening goal from the most unlikely source – goalkeeper Lee Idzi.

So in the space of just two matches Town have doubled their previous points tally for the season and significantly reduced the gap up to the two teams directly above them, Prestatyn and Aberystwyth.

The match began in very difficult weather conditions with a fierce swirling wind blowing down the length of the pitch – and with these elements behind them from the start Aberystwyth, not surprisingly, were able to apply all the early pressure forcing the visitors to defend in depth.

After just 2 minutes they managed their first scoring chance when Declan Walker moved forward from the half-way line before dispatching a 25 yard drive that Idzi, with a smart full-length save, turned around the post.

The Seasiders continued to swarm forward repeatedly and much of the play was conducted inside and just around the opposition penalty area.

The Old Gold were defending with commendable discipline and commitment ensuring that no serious goal threat emerged – and behind them Idzi, whenever necessary, displayed his customary assured and safe handling, while on several occasions he was simply content to carefully watch Aberystwyth’s scoring efforts fly, helpfully, over or wide of his goal.

Indeed his greatest problem was finding distance with his goal-kicks and clearances, the ball barely reaching the half-way line before being blown back towards him by the wind.

The home side too were struggling to adapt to the conditions, with passes and crosses being carried uncontrollably by the wind.  It was spoiling the match all round.

Only rarely were Town able to make any notable impression on the Aberystwyth defence. In the 30th minute, after a short spell of possession upfield, they managed their best chance when Luke Cummings fired a long cross into the penalty area towards Liam Thomas who was closing in on goal only for ‘keeper Chris Mullock to race well off his line and clear the danger.

After the interval the home side, now facing the continuing wind, initially produced a spell of incisive attacking activity and on 56 minutes they went close to opening the score – an Ashley Young corner-kick led to a scramble in the goalmouth that finished with Cummings making a crucial intervention to clear the ball off the goal-line and away to safety.

However, gradually the Old Gold, by now reinforced as an attacking unit by the appearance of substitute Liam Griffiths, began to pose more of a threat going forward.

Celebrations: Lee Idzi celebrates his first ever goal

After 65 minutes a throw-in from Dan Sheehan reached the tall striker on the edge of the penalty area – he instantly struck a rasping shot that Mullock was well-placed to claim.

But then, in the 68th minute, Idzi produced his remarkable moment of glory. From just inside his own penalty area he launched a huge clearance which sailed high over all the outfield players and landed in the Aberystwyth penalty area where Mullock, badly misjudging the bounce of the ball, watched it fly over his outstretched arms and into the roof of the net.

Town’s experienced ‘keeper was immediately engulfed by his elated team-mates, while the sizeable crowd of Carmarthen supporters demonstrated both delight and astonishment over what they had witnessed.

The Old Gold, spurred by that success, continued to press forward but without any further immediate scoring opportunities emerging – and gradually the Seasiders began to regain the initiative leading to a late spell of pressure that once again tested, but failed to penetrate, the resolute Town defence.

Then as the match moved into added time it seemed that Carmarthen had put the result beyond doubt when from a spirited counter-attack Kieran Lewis threaded a fine pass through to Griffiths on the edge of the penalty area and he coolly slotted the ball beyond Mullock’s reach and into the corner of the net.

But any belief amongst Town’s supporters that the result was now completely secure was soon dispelled when moments later Aberystwyth poured forward once more and from Ryan Wade’s right-wing cross into the packed goalmouth Matthew Jones stabbed the ball home from close-range.

However, that proved to be a mere consolation for the hosts as shortly afterwards the final whistle was heard.

These two victories over Aberystwyth, coupled with the passion and character displayed by all the players involved, have given supporters renewed hope for even better performances in the matches ahead along with a points return that will lift the Old Gold safely away from the relegation places that they have occupied since the start of the season.

Just two fixtures remain to be completed in the Welsh Premier League first-phase programme and both are at Richmond Park – on Saturday (January 6 k/o 2.30pm) Cefn Druids are the visitors, while the following Saturday (January 13 k/o 5.15pm) Cardiff Met provide the opposition.

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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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Late goal sees Lido beat Ammanford

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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).

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