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No Saintly intervention for the Swans

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By Jonathan Twigg

KEEPERS of the faith or a question when football rivalry becomes a ‘Holy War’ where your life depends on it.

Kevin Johns MBE, a pillar of Swansea City, spoke of martyrdom before defeat by Southampton, on Tuesday (May 8). Saint Mary, a team from the Church Young Men’s Association of 1885 born the banks of the ‘Itchen’ currently managed by ‘Welshmen’ Mark Hughes. A eulogy which encapsulates Peter Rodrigues, 1976 cup winning captain and the towering Paul Jones in goal; best of all from the pearly gates, none other than Gareth Bale.

Many thought godly intervention occurred with the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal prior to Christmas, divine intervention immediate, but the current situation, no goals and no points stretching back a month.

Wales and football have always had a heavenly ring when it comes to looking for signs but compare Scotland, Rangers vs Celtic for a view on how religion and sport cannot be separated. After Tuesday evening, a hope for a shared appreciation with Cardiff City in the Premier League once more, now hangs by a thread.

There was no cross carrying to the altar on this occasion, 20,000 white flag bearing emblems whipping the pilgrims to a frenzy. Andrew and Jordan Ayew the early disciples, Ki Sung-Yueng strong like St Barnabas, allowing Andy King having space to go for goal.

Luigi Scrosoppi (1804-84) the patron saint of footballers extended his care to all players but maybe, just maybe he had an inkling of companionship with George not David for the night. He was a battler against the strong anti-clerical feeling in Italy to bring hope and comfort to the poor; boy did Luigi, the son of a jeweller know when to kick sand.

The business of global football is humungous, still growing, the Premier League of course the place to be. Thursday, June 14, the start of the 2018 World Cup wouldn’t be able to match the energy of the Liberty Stadium, viral electricity in the form of a ‘berating Sparky’.

Kevin Johns’ reverence a catalyst for a chapel just off the players tunnel, encapsulating the imagery of ‘Camp Nou’? Peering back a replica of the Virgin of Montserrat, Catalonia’s most famous religious icon and its patron saint, with Baby Jesus on her lap exchange for St David, proudly inhaling a full choral rendition of ‘Land of my Fathers’. The Swans held sway, thirty minutes of football to their advantage, but no goal, Fabianski, the ‘big pole in the goal’ a saviour from Charlie Austin; twice.

One part of the epiphany, patron saint of the lottery, ‘Pantaleon’ although the Swansea players inspired by Saint Sebastian, extremely fit and able to withstand long physical endurance. Praying didn’t win the crunch game, when it mattered.

the ‘Jack Army’ a congregation of little ill repute registering the pressure, heading every ball, drumming pace and trickery. Sam Clucas saw his header slide across the face of the Alex McCarthy’s goal, the throng now not committed to the Sunday service Kevin asked of in his prayer.

The second half tension, flaring tempers and Jordan Ayew off like the clappers in tune with the stand, Austin chance after chance, enter Tammy Abraham, a tactical change replacing wing back Martin Olsson, Kyle McNaughton flying as Tammy called the tune, Jan Bednarek flattened by his own goal keeper, left to take a seat on the pews, Abraham cranked up the crescendo before substitute Manolo Gabbiadini broke the deadlock and the spirit.

Narsingh came on for McNaughton in the final quarter, Tom Carroll for King, Ki wasteful with Michael Oliver awarding six minutes of extra time, Abraham close before the emotion drained away.

The singing voices now clearly ‘the saints come marching in’ reminding us of St. Jude Thaddeus, cousin of Jesus and one of his Twelve Apostles, the patron saint of hopeless, desperate situations and lost, impossible, or forgotten causes. Read, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Kevin Johns, a Swan through and through and hope reigns eternal, perhaps with some ‘Hail Mary’s’ church bells will continue to ring loudly across West Wales.

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Amman earn first win of the season

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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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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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