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Penalty heartache for Old Gold

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CARMARTHEN, having already overcome one Cymru Premier League team to reach this stage of the Welsh Cup, now faced an altogether tougher challenge in the form of the runaway CPL leaders and most recent Cup holders The New Saints. 

Yet the Old Gold, undaunted by this prospect, produced a highly-committed performance against their full-time professional opponents to remain on level terms at the final whistle – only the uncertainties of a penalty shoot-out could separate the teams.

From the outset the Saints slipped straight into their familiar game pattern, dominating possession and patiently building pressure before incisively probing the Old Gold defence.  However in the earliest stages Town coped well and the first notable scoring effort arose at the other end of the pitch – on 5 minutes Tom Dyson won possession off a TNS defender inside the penalty area then slid the ball across to Ben Steele who saw his close-range drive blocked and cleared to safety.

Moments later the visitors threatened when Danny Redmond raced along the left touchline to the corner of the penalty area then sent the ball across the goalmouth only to see Dean Ebbe fire his shot narrowly past the post and into the side netting.

Then in the 14th minute Chris Marriott sent a corner-kick into the crowded penalty area which led to a fair degree of chaos with three close-range shots being blocked before defender Trystan Jones finally cleared the ball safely away.      

As the pace of the game noticeably quickened the Old Gold defence came under increasing pressure yet their back-four, as usual well organised by experienced central defenders Lee Surman and Scott Tancock with Jones and Jordan Vickers on the flanks, remained sound and secure – and ahead of them midfielders Greg Walters, Dyson, Matthew Delaney and Adam John frequently gave them valuable support. 

Throughout the first-half Carmarthen were sadly unable to create any significant sustained attacking pressure.

Steele and Dion Phillips were generally tightly marshalled by the Saint’s well-drilled defensive unit and while Vickers, in particular, produced some typically rapid bursts along the right touchline none led to any notable concern for the opposition.

After the interval TNS took the early initiative and put the Old Gold defence under sustained pressure.

In the 52nd minute Adrian Cieslewicz moved inside from the left touchline and struck a fierce 20 yard drive that Scott James, with an impressive full-length save, turned past the post.

From the ensuing corner-kick Keston Davies rose high amongst a crowded goalmouth but sent his close-range header narrowly over the bar.

The Saints again went close on 61 minutes when, from another corner-kick, Leo Smith’s smart header went beyond James’ reach only for the ball to be headed clear by Tancock’s timely intervention.

Then moments later Cieslewicz again cut infield from the touchline but saw his angled shot from the corner of the penalty area slide across the goalmouth and beyond the far post.

The visitors’ lively winger was again involved in the 76th minute when he took advantage of a mix-up between Vickers and James and crossed the ball into the empty goalmouth where Dean Ebbe, under no pressure, inexplicably sent his header high over the bar. 

Straightaway James was again involved when Louis Robles outpaced Jones to reach the edge of the penalty area only for the experienced ‘keeper to bravely dive down and claim the ball at the striker’s feet.

Despite being under fairly prolonged pressure in the closing stages the Old Gold were still managing to create occasional scoring opportunities.

On 77 minutes Jones sprinted towards the penalty area and from 20 yards struck a promising volley that flew narrowly too high.

This led to a welcome, albeit short, spell of pressure for Carmarthen during which the Saints were reduced to 10 men when Chris Marriott, after a bad challenge on Vickers, was sent-off having received his second yellow card.

Soon afterwards the referee blew the final whistle and accordingly, under new regulations, the match went straight into a penalty shoot-out – for the second successive Welsh Cup tie for Carmarthen.  But sadly on this occasion they were the losers.

While Ben Steele, Matthew Delaney, Trystan Jones and Jordan Vickers converted their spot-kicks, Tom Dyson saw his effort saved by the Saints ‘keeper Connor Roberts – in reply all five penalties were converted.

Despite that outcome the Old Gold can reflect on having held TNS to a draw over the 90 minutes.

Only one team in the Cymru Premier League has done that so far this season – the Saints are otherwise unbeaten!   

Carmarthen’s next fixture is at Richmond Park against Briton Ferry on Saturday, October 23, k/o 2.30pm while the following fixture is away at Afan Lido on Saturday, October 30, k/o 2.30pm – both are Cymru South League matches.

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Old Gold impress in win over Major

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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.

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Ammanford reach T20 knockout semis

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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.

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Sport

Ammanford earn narrow win over Cardiff

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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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