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Swans grab last gasp play-off spot

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WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).

Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.

The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.

The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.

And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.

The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.

Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.

The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.

But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.

John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.

Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.

Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.

Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.

But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.

However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.

Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.

With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.

Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.

With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.

Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.

However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.

Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.

Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.

They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.

The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.

And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.

Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.

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Sport

Ammanford well beaten by Port Talbot

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AMMANFORD slipped closer to the foot of Premier One with a high-scoring defeat to Port Talbot Town at The New Mansel.

Ammanford were put in to bat on a glorious afternoon and made hay while the sun shone with an opening partnership of 61 between Matthew Fisher and Alun Evans.

When Fisher departed for 40, Daniel Evans took over and his partnership with his skipper took the score to 155 before Roberts was caught on 49.

When Evans fell for an anchoring 86, the Davies brothers, Rhodri (28no) and Rhys (22no) saw out the Ammanford innings, taking their total to a formidable 259 for 4.

Formidable it may have been, but Port Talbot’s batsmen were up to the challenge.

Glamorgan’s Nick Selman led the charge before he was dismissed by Fisher for 47.

The main partnership of 123, however, came between Joseph Voke (84) and Matthew Thompson (74no).

There were still three overs remaining when Port Talbot cruised past the Ammanford total for the loss of 3 wickets.

Things won’t get much easier for Ammanford next week when Newport visit the Park.

Ammanford seconds v Ynystawe

Ammanford seconds continued their miserable sequence of defeats with a 4 wicket loss to Ynystawe at the Park.

A promising start from Eirian Morgan (13) and David Lumb (17) preceded a middle order collapse which was rescued by a terrific individual performance from captain Jamie Evans, whose 76 helped Ammanford reach 167 all out.

Ynystawe’s middle order by contrast kept the scoreboard ticking over, an undefeated partnership between Rowan Evans (31no) and Arun Maurya (26no) taking them past Ammanford’s total with four wickets and 16 overs to spare.

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Ammanford march on in Welsh Cup

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AMMANFORD progressed smoothly into the next round of the Welsh Cup by beating Pembroke Dock by 91 runs at the Park on Sunday (Jun 6).

The Pembrokeshire League Division 2 side were playing in the competition for the first time in 15 years and were excited for the game.

Ammanford batted first and amassed 161 for 9. Their main scorers were Owen Davies (36), Matthew Davies (21) and Rhodri Davies (24).

Nick Daley finished with excellent figures of 4-23 while George Smith took 2-28.

Pembroke Dock were never up with the required rate, and despite a defiant 34 from Billy Wood, they were dismissed for 92.

Tom Grimwood added 10 and Archie Hillier-Wood added 11 but it wasn’t to be for the Dock.

Llyr Morgan and Iestyn Jones took three wickets each, backed by Matthew Fisher with 2 for 4.

Next Sunday, Ammanford are away to Carmarthen Wanderers in the SWCA T20 Knockout, whilst their Third XI play at the Park in the Intermediate Cup.

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Walters’ century sees off Ammanford seconds

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CARMARTHEN Wanderer’s Leighton Walters scored a century to help his side to victory over Ammanford seconds on Saturday (May 22).

Ammanford’s first XI saw their game rained off at the Park but the seconds were able to play twenty miles away in Carmarthen.

It wasn’t to be Ammanford’s day though as they lost by 115 runs.

Batting first, Wanderers amassed an impressive 218 for 3 in their 40 overs.

The highlight was undoubtedly a century from opener Leighton Walters which included 12 fours and 4 sixes.

He was well supported by Andrew Edwards (45no) and Liam Rogers (22).

Ammanford had no reply, with only three of their batsmen creeping into double figures.

They were dismissed for 103 inside 30 overs.

Kai Summers (4-17) and Steffan Jones (3-13) were the home team’s chief wicket takers.

Next week, Ammanford’s firsts entertain early league leaders Cardiff at the Park.

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