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Old Gold boost survival hopes

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CARMARTHEN continued their promising opening to their Welsh Premier League second-phase programme with a valuable 3-2 victory over Newtown on Saturday (Feb 10) in a match that genuinely was the proverbial ‘game of two halves’.

With the accumulation of League points an essential requirement at this stage of the season the Old Gold, under the guidance of new interim Manager Neil Smothers for the first time, made a positive start with several incisive attacks that tested the visitors’ defence.

The only notable scoring chance in a fairly uneventful opening spell arose at the other end of the pitch – on 9 minutes, following a Ryan Kershaw free-kick, the ball rebounded off Town’s defensive ‘wall’ and fell nicely for Alex Fletcher who struck a 25 yard effort just wide of the far post.

However that heralded a thrilling and productive period of attacking football from the Old Gold which, as in last week’s Prestatyn match, heavily featured their recently-assembled triple strike-force.

In the 16th minute Luke Cummings, from the right flank, delivered a searching cross into the crowded goalmouth where Mark Jones set up the chance for Town’s all-time top goalscorer Liam Thomas to fire the ball home from close-range.

Then on 23 minutes a Cummings’ corner-kick was claimed by Jones who released a crisp drive that was blocked by ‘keeper Jack Perry – the loose ball was quickly played back to Aidan O’Kelly who from 20 yards struck a stunning volley that flew through a pack of defenders and into the back of the net.

Moments later, following a swift break out of defence the ball was sent upfield to Jones who took it forward to the edge of the penalty area then released a fierce drive that went just narrowly wide of the post.

During this spell Newtown had their fair share of possession but, with the Old Gold defence performing soundly, they were unable to create any serious goal threat from open play – their best opportunity arose after 33 minutes when Jay Denny hit a 30 yard free-kick that ‘keeper Lewis Thomas was forced to block before the ball was cleared safely away.

Then in the 39th minute Carmarthen’s refreshing attacking play was further rewarded – Cummings sent a fine pass through to Luke Bowen who, from close to the by-line, sent an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas, rising high above his marker, produced a firm header that went beyond  Perry’s reach and into the roof of the net.

This concluded what had undoubtedly been Town’s best 45 minutes of football this season.

After the interval Newtown, unsurprisingly, were straightaway totally committed to attack as they monopolised possession and kept the home defence under sustained pressure. As before, the Old Gold were defending with composure and discipline and it was not until the 61st minute that any meaningful scoring opportunity arose – Kershaw moved forward to the edge of the penalty area before releasing a fierce strike that Lewis Thomas denied, turning the ball aside with an impressive full-length save.

Shortly afterwards Kershaw again suffered as he watched his long-range drive defeated by another spectacular flying save from Town’s on-loan ‘keeper.

Eventually on 68 minutes Carmarthen’s resistance was broken when Ethan Jones broke into the penalty area and fired a sharp cross into the goalmouth where Nick Rushton stabbed the ball home from close-range.

This inspired the visitors to swarm forward with even greater intensity and after 79 minutes Rushton, from the by-line, fired a dangerous in-swinging free-kick into the goalmouth where Thomas, surrounded by a number of players, managed to punch the ball safely away.

That was just one of several instances, with the Old Gold under serious pressure in their own penalty area, where the young ‘keeper bravely dived down amongst opponents’ feet to claim or clear the ball.

Ahead of him Town were fully committed to defending their lead, often with only Jones operating upfield as an isolated attacking force – and they were successful up until the 90th minute when Kieran Mills-Evans, with a close-range header, converted Rushton’s right-wing cross.

Even more anxious moments followed for Carmarthen supporters as they endured several minutes of added time before the referee blew the final whistle to confirm that three precious League points were secure and another step towards WPL survival had been achieved.

The Old Gold must now make the long journey up to Llandudno for their next League fixture on Saturday, February 17, (k/o 2.30pm).

With the Seasiders having gained just two points from their last four matches, Town have reason to hope that another decent performance will further boost those survival prospects.

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Cwmamman United Juniors host end of season event

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CWMAMMAN United juniors held their end of season event at Clwb Godre’r Mynydd Ddu Glanamman.

As they celebrated throughout the day with their different age groups from Under 6 to Under 14 it looked as if almost every child in the Cwm had attended at some point.

The Juniors section at the club has grown to around 150 children over the last couple of years and with a dedicated and enthusiastic group of committee, coaches and volunteers behind them the club is excitedly anticipating further growth.

A fantastic time was had by all with all age groups proudly having their moment in the sun.

Robert Griffiths the Clubs Junior Chairman said: “I have to thank all our fantastic people at the club that get the kids out playing whether sorting games, coaching, fund raising or organising events such as our club parties and awards such as these.

“We continiue to grow and if your child would like to be part of a safe, healthy and fun environment they are most welcome here.”

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Depleted Ammanford beaten by seven wickets

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A DEPLETED Ammanford lost by seven wickets to Bridgend Town in a rain affected match at windswept Newbridge Fields on Satuday (Jun 25).

With the start delayed by over an hour because of rain, the match was reduced to 39 overs before a ball was bowled, and the toss immediately became the crucial factor in deciding the game’s outcome.

Bridgend won it and, predictably enough, put Ammanford in to bat.

The writing was on the wall as the visitors lost two wickets for 9 runs on an unpredictable wicket which was one of the first bowler-friendly tracks encountered this season.

Only four batters reached double figures as wickets fell at regular intervals. Top scorer was 14 year old wicket-keeper Gruffudd Owen (19no) who took the game to the visitors and looked capable of scoring many more had he not run out of partners.

Ammanford were all out for 90 inside 30 overs.

Tea was taken early as more heavy rain swept across Newbridge Fields, but unfortunately for Ammanford the sun made a reappearance and play eventually resumed.

The Bridgend batters did not have it all their own way, quickly losing both openers to opening bowler Owen Davies.

Davies removed a further wicket in a good spell of 3 for 15, but Thomas Cogbill (43no) and Luke Humphries (18) saw Bridgend safely home without further trouble inside 24 overs.

Next week, Ammanford welcome second placed Swansea to the Park, the memory of their 700+ run clash at St Helen’s still fresh in their minds.

Thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run

Ammanford thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run in a rain adjusted match at the Rec.

Batting first, Ammanford reached 132 all out, thanks mainly to their captain Carl Griffiths (41) and Dafydd Wyn Jones (21).

Rain meant that Pontardawe’s reply was restricted to just 16 overs, during which they had to score 53 runs.

They came very close, but two wickets each from Oliver Pallot and Iwan Matthews interrupted their progress and they fell short by a single run, finishing on 51 for 5.

The victory moved Ammanford into the top half of SWCA’s Division 6.

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Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay to visit Carmarthenshire

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JOIN in the excitement as Carmarthenshire welcomes the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay on Friday, July 1.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be held from July 28 until August 8 and the Queen’s Baton Relay is currently travelling across the Commonwealth in an epic journey to all 72 nations and territories.

The journey brings together and celebrates communities across the Commonwealth during the build up to the Games.

The Queen’s Baton will arrive in Anglesey on June 29 as part of its five-day tour across Wales and will travel down the country and across South Wales providing the opportunity for communities to experience the excitement for Birmingham 2022, as the 11 days of showstopping sport nears ever closer.

A busy schedule of activities and events are planned and hundreds of Batonbearers, each with inspiring backgrounds and stories, will have the honour of carrying the Baton during the journey through Wales.

More than 150 schoolchildren will be at Pembrey Country Park on the afternoon of July 1 to welcome the Baton to Carmarthenshire along with Council Chairman Cllr Rob Evans, before being transported via toboggan, skis, bike and beach wheelchair to Cefn Sidan beach and into the safe hands of the RLNI who will take the Baton by boat to Burry Port Harbour.

The Baton will arrive at Burry Port Harbour at around 3.20pm to be handed to the Silver and Gold Sports Young Ambassadors from Carmarthenshire’s secondary schools who will take it in turns to run and cycle just over three miles along the Millennium Coastal Path arriving in North Dock in Llanelli at 4.15pm.

Here the Baton will be welcomed by Council Leader Cllr Darren Price along with a number of inspiring Carmarthenshire athletes who will be representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games.

Residents are being encouraged to get involved with the celebrations and embrace the arrival of the Baton, with a range of activities taking place at North Dock, organised by the council’s Actif sports and leisure team.

The fun will go on throughout the afternoon until 7pm with various activities to promote health and wellbeing including a junior aquathon, stand-up paddleboarding, aquafit classes, spin classes and beach-lifesaving sessions. 

Council Leader Cllr Darren Price said: “We look forward to welcoming the Queen’s Baton Relay to Carmarthenshire and I am sure local communities will join in the celebrations as the Baton travels from Pembrey Country Park to Llanelli’s North Dock.

“It is guaranteed to be an exciting day, especially with the Baton travelling to Burry Port Harbour by boat and then on to North Dock where there will a host of sporting activities to take part in.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in organising such a momentous day for Carmarthenshire and its residents, again showcasing our beautiful county and what it has to offer to the world.”

Further information, including the timetable for the Queen’s Baton Relay in Carmarthenshire, can be found on the council website newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales

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