CARMARTHEN TOWN snatched a point late on in their game with Cwmbran Celtic on Saturday (Sept 11).
A decent number of Town supporters decided to make the journey east along the M4 for this first-ever fixture with Cwmbran Celtic no doubt encouraged, in part at least, by the quality of their team’s performance last weekend in their Welsh Cup tie.
And for the first 45 minutes of this match that decision was fully justified as the Old Gold largely dominated the game with some impressive, fast attacking play and plenty of scoring opportunities – the only disappointment was their inability to convert any of those chances.
From the start the match soon developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair but the critical difference was that while Carmarthen were frequently penetrating deep into the home penalty area, Celtic were unable, in any meaningful way, to breach the Town defence, expertly marshalled by experienced central pairing Scott Tancock and Lee Surman – goalkeeper Scott James was never noticeably tested in these early stages.
And ahead of them the midfield unit led by Greg Walters, alongside Tom Dyson and Matthew Delaney, not only provided a further valuable layer of defence but also displayed the energy and vision to launch a series of promising attacking moves.
In addition during these early stages it was clear that defender Jordan Vickers, with his lightning pace and sharp movement, was easily able to torment the opposing defenders and open up attacking opportunities along the right flank.
However, despite being under pressure for most of the first-half the Cwmbran defence, usually reinforced by several midfielders, performed with impressive resistance although there were several occasions when goalkeeper Andrew Larcombe was called into action.
As for the Old Gold’s few notable scoring chances, in the 22nd minute Dyson fired a crossfield pass out to Adam John on the left flank who raced forward before sending a searching cross into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas, under pressure from defenders, saw his close-range shot diverted narrowly past the post.
Then on 33 minutes Dyson, from 25 yards, struck a stunning free-kick that Larcombe, at full-stretch, turned just over the bar. There were further scoring efforts from Noah Daley, John, Delaney and Thomas in the closing stages of the first-half but none, sadly, challenged the heavily reinforced Celtic defence.
After the interval Cwmbran immediately began far more positively and poured forward in numbers at every opportunity, clearly intent on overwhelming the Town defence – and they were very soon rewarded for that ambitious strategy.
In the 50th minute Josh Hinwood fired a long free-kick towards the edge of the penalty area where Tom Meecham, having been allowed worrying time and space by the Town defence, struck a stunning low drive that flew past James and into the corner of the net.
The Old Gold, stunned by that setback, poured forward in search of an early equaliser – and on 53 minutes they went near to doing so when Trystan Jones, on the left flank, sent a long pass across to Walters who moved into the penalty area then, from a sharp angle, fired a crisp shot that Larcombe blocked before the ball was cleared to safety by a defender.
The game quickly developed into a fast paced, end-to-end affair but both teams were guilty of wasting scoring opportunities with wayward finishing.
After 77 minutes Cwmbran went close to increasing their lead. Meecham, from the left touchline, fired a long free-kick into the goalmouth where James, uncharacteristically, mis-handled the ball – however, thankfully, Tancock, was alert to the danger and headed the loose ball away to safety before any nearby opponent could react.
Then on 85 minutes a smart interchange of passes between Adam John and Dyson on the left-wing finished with the ball being threaded through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but his instant shot was blocked and the ball cleared to safety by a defender.
As each closing minute passed, no doubt the Old Gold supporters were fearing the prospect of another defeat in this, so far, disappointing season.
Then in the 90th minute Town won a corner-kick – John directed the perfect delivery into the heavily congested goalmouth and Surman produced the perfect finish as he forced the ball into the net. And just moments later the referee blew the final whistle.
Carmarthen’s next fixture is against Cambrian & Clydach on Saturday, September 18, k/o 2.30pm and then the following fixture is against Risca United on Tuesday, September 21, k/o 7.30pm – both are Cymru South League matches and both are at Richmond Park.
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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