AMMANFORD will play one of their biggest games on Saturday (Aug 10) as they take on Welsh Premier League side Newtown in the second round of the Nathaniel MG Cup.
Ahead of the game the Herald spoke to Ammanford manager Gruffydd Harrison about their preparations for the new season.
Newtown will likely provide a strong test for Gruffydd’s men but he says they are not just going there to ‘make up the numbers’ adding they will ‘give it their all’.
Ammanford booked their tie with Newtown after beating Ceredigion side Penrhyncoch 2-1 in the first round last weekend (Aug 3) and the manager is happy with what he has seen from his squad so far.
“I’ve seen a hunger from every single player. We have a few new concepts to our play we wanted to implement and so far so good, said Harrison.
“Everyone is motivated and clear on what we want. I’m happy with everyone and their application so far.”
Ammanford will play the 2019/20 season in the newly named JD Cymru South League and Harrison added: “It was important we retained our status in this league last season to ensure our involvement in the rebranding and so far it’s evident the professionalism has raised greatly.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved with any club within this league. Every club has had to sink or swim and that will only raise the standards again.”
The club has had a shorter pre-season than usual with the first two rounds of the league cup being played and Gruff adds that his squad is in ‘good condition’
“We have one slight injury concern but apart from that we are healthy and that is the most important thing for me after preseason”, he added.
Ammanford have boosted their squad with the signings of former Swansea City players Lee Trundle and Andy Robinson who Gruff says have both been great since they joined.
Gruff said: “They obviously will bring great experience and quality, but they understand they are part of Ammanford AFC and that’s the most important aspect of our club.
“They have been great since arriving and will be great assets to go alongside an already outstanding group of players.
“They will also help us within the wider community to establish greater links as we aim to further establish the club within our area.”
Gruff added that the club is not planning on making any more signings before the season starts stating: “I am very happy with the depth within the squad and everyone will play their part this season. We won’t be adding any more before the window closes and I don’t expect anyone to leave.”
Finally the Herald asked about Ammanford’s goals for the new season and Manager Gruff explained: “As they are every season, on the field we want to win every fixture we play in. If we can’t we’ll work out why and try to improve.
“We are working hard to get better and better and that needs to translate into wins and points. How hard we work will collerate with the outcome of football matches were involved in and consequently our league position.
“Off the field I want us to become a community hub and further promote our commitment to the Jac Lewis foundation in relation to mental health awareness.”
Saturday’s game in Newtown will kick off at 2:30pm with the club laying on buses for supporters wishing to attend.
Ammanford’s first game of the new League season takes place a week later (Aug 17) as they travel to Taffs Well.
Their first home game of the season sees them take on Swansea Uni FC on Friday, August 27, kick off at 7:30pm.
Old Gold impress in win over Major
CARMARTHEN opened their new season home programme with an impressive performance against last season’s Cymru South League champions Llantwit Major having beaten the same opponents away from Richmond Park only 10 days earlier in the League Cup.
Town took the initiative from the start by launching a series of rapid attacks that kept the visitors defending deep inside their own half but it was not until the 11th minute that any notable scoring chance arose – Noah Daley made a strong run along the left flank before driving the ball across to Kaid Mohamed who from 20 yards struck a fierce volley that goal-keeper Rhys Jones turned aside.
Moments later Matthew Delaney, from just outside the penalty area, fired a free-kick that was blocked by defenders – however the ensuing scramble for the loose ball finished with Mohamed, from 10 yards, powering it past Jones and into the back of the net.
[Note: Kaid last scored a League goal for Carmarthen on 20th January 2007 at Richmond Park against Airbus UK when he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory. In all, he scored 25 goals finishing overall top scorer that season including, memorably, twice in the Welsh Cup Final victory.]
Carmarthen continued to press forward and on 15 minutes Bradley Gibbings embarked on a strong run along the right-touchline before driving the ball into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas, arriving at speed, narrowly failed to connect for an inviting tap-in opportunity.
Then on 28 minutes Daley embarked on a breakaway sprint from the half-way line which finished with a stunning 25 yards low strike that Jones, at full-length, before defenders cleared the ball to safety.
The Old Gold maintained their domination of the play and after 33 minutes Gibbings sent a fine pass through to Daley just inside the penalty area – the lively striker released a promising angled drive but saw Jones turn the ball around the near post.
Still the hosts searched for that allusive second goal – on 37 minutes Mohamed made a strong run from the half-way line, outstretching several defenders, to reach the corner of the penalty area before dispatching a stunning angled drive that Jones, with smart reactions, turned aside at the base of the post.
Yet eventually, in the 42nd minute, Town secured that richly deserved second goal. A delightful passing move inside the penalty area between Thomas, Jamie Rickard and Daley finished with the sturdy striker powering the ball past the hapless ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
After the interval Llantwit made a bright start and showed far more positive intent than at any earlier stage of the match – and on 49 minutes Joel Woodington, the liveliest of their strikers, broke free into the penalty area and dispatched a fierce low drive that ‘keeper Ifon Knott was quickly down to claim.
The visitors continued to be more competitive but for a while they struggled to penetrate the Old Gold defence. Yet eventually, in the 71st minute, they capitalised on a moment of poor defending when Owain Edwards was allowed the time and space to reach a well-flighted cross and, from close-range, head the ball beyond Knott’s reach and into the net.
However, Town were quick to respond to that setback and once more put the opposition defence under serious pressure – and they eventually, after 89 minutes, restored the comfort of their two-goal advantage. A fine cross-field move finished with Mohamed sending an inviting pass to Jac Walters who, from just inside the penalty area, struck a fierce shot past Jones and into the back of the net.
Then, deep into added time, the Old Gold made the score-line even more emphatic when a smart passing move between Walters and Mohamed finished with the returning striker crowning the event with a stunning 15-yard volley, that flew beyond the goal-keeper’s reach and into the roof of the net.
This is a promising start to Carmarthen’s home League programme – clearly stronger opponents await but, for the moment, at least this performance helps erase thoughts of the previous match at Cambrian & Clybach.
Town’s next Cymru South League match is at Richmond Park against Swansea University on August 13, k/o 2.30pm.
Ammanford reach T20 knockout semis
AMMANFORD reached the semi-final of the SWCA T20 knockout as they beat Llanelli by 43 runs at Stradey on Friday evening.
Opener Kurtis Marsh was once again in fine fettle, stroking 89 from 54 deliveries which included 13 fours and 2 sixes.
Callum Croft and Josef Davies chipped in with 22 each, as Ammanford closed on 157 all out.
Despite 35 from veteran opener Iwan Rees, Llanelli were never up with the run rate, and wickets fell quickly as they tried to catch up.
They were all out for 114 in the penultimate over.
Rhys-Huw Davies took three wickets while Owen Davies, Josef Davies and Callum Croft bagged two each.
Ammanford earn narrow win over Cardiff
A YOUNG Ammanford team gained a season-defining 18 run victory at Cardiff which, barring miracles or disasters, pretty much guarantees their continued presence in next season’s top flight.
Batting first, Ammanford opener Kurtis Marsh maintained his blistering form with 79, supported early on by skipper for the day Dan Roberts (21) and Xavier Clarke (42).
At 156 for 3, Ammanford looked set for a dominant total, but unfortunately none of the middle order was able to stick around for long enough to dominate the bowling.
Rhys Davies (26), Josef Davies (18) and Gruffudd Owen (16) looked good at the wicket, but got out when it looked as though they were ready to cut loose.
Ammanford closed their innings on a creditable 248 for 9, but the received wisdom around the ground was that this was 20-30 runs short of what was needed.
For Cardiff, Tom Barry marked his first wickets of the season with 5 for 46.
The received wisdom looked to be correct as Cardiff cruised past the hundred mark before losing opener James Meggit (47).
And even more correct as they reached 185 for 2, Glamorgan’s Prem Sisodiya bowled by Xavier Clarke for 32.
It was when their other opener Umar Malik was bowled by Callum Croft for 101 that things started to go wrong for them.
Tight bowling and excellent fielding kept the pressure on Cardiff’s batsmen as wickets tumbled at gratifyingly regular intervals. The last 8 wickets fell for 45 runs as Cardiff slumped to 230 all out.
Dan Roberts, Jo Davies and Xavier Clarke took three wickets each for Ammanford, but the entire team deserved the credit for keeping the pressure on Cardiff throughout and forcing the errors which led to a superb victory.
Ammanford remain in the bottom half of Premier 1, but this win moves them 44 points clear of bottom club Clydach who lost to Bridgend, next week’s visitors to the Park.
Ammanford seconds crush Gorseinon
Ammanford seconds smashed records galore as they crushed visiting Gorseinon by 228 runs at the Park.
Batting first, an opening stand of 168 between the two Tiaans, Evans and Sparrow, set the tone before Evans was dismissed for 64.
Sparrow went on to a terrific double century, losing his wicket at the end of Ammanford’s innings having scored 221.
Ammanford closed on an insurmountable 383 for 6.
Despite a defiant 69 from captain Chris Richards, Gorseinon knew they didn’t have a hope, and fell meekly to 155 all out inside 40 overs.
Chief wicket taker was Iestyn Jones with 4 for 25.
Ammanford third XI beaten soundly
Ammanford thirds were soundly beaten by 7 wickets at Pontarddulais.
Batting first, they could only manage 125 all out, thanks to opener Toby Davies (42), Steffan Williams (26) and Llyr Morgan (26).
They were destroyed by the bowling of Thomas Edwards who took 6 for 7 in 5 overs.
Bont made short work of passing Ammanford’s total for the loss of just three wickets, keeper Cai Gealy scoring an unbeaten 69.
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