CARMARTHEN TOWN extended their impressive unbeaten run in the Cymru South League to nine matches with this victory against old rivals Port Talbot who have been firmly rooted at the bottom of the League table since the start of this season having lost all of their matches.
However, if Town supporters were hoping for a comfortable victory that prospect was soon dispelled as the first-half progressed.
The Old Gold, facing a fierce blustery wind, began promisingly when on 2 minutes Adam John raced along the right-wing and crossed the ball into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas, under pressure from defenders, sent his angled drive narrowly wide of the far post.
The hosts responded immediately and forced a corner-kick – this was sent into the packed penalty area where Teejay Vickery struck a promising close-range shot that Lee Surman, well placed on the goal-line, blocked and cleared away upfield.
Straightaway Town launched another attack when Thomas sprinted along the left-wing then sent a fine cross-field pass that reached Noah Daley – he took the ball to the corner of the penalty area then fired a smart drive across the face of the goal, beyond the reach of ‘keeper James Donnelly, only for it to slide just beyond the far post.
The play continued to switch back and forth with plenty of misplaced passes and crosses from both teams as the players struggled to come to terms with the uncompromising weather conditions.
Yet on 16 minutes John made a strong run along the right flank to reach the by-line then drove the ball into the goalmouth where Daley saw his close-range shot blocked by a defender then cleared to safety.
Soon afterwards Daley delivered a fine long cross-field pass to Thomas on the edge of the penalty area but Town’s top goal-scorer, while driving his low shot beyond Donnelly’s reach, saw the ball slip narrowly outside the post.
Then in the 35th minute John embarked on another determined run from the half-way line to the edge of the edge of the penalty area, passing four bewildered defenders on the way, only to spoil the move by finishing the move with a weak shot that Donnelly comfortably claimed.
During that spell the home side continued to probe the Old Gold defence but, as so often this season, the experienced central pairing of Surman and Scott Tancock organised the defensive unit so effectively that on only a very few occasions was ‘keeper Scott James called into serious action.
In particular, on 39 minutes Manny Maloney sent a free-kick into the packed penalty area to find Daryl Hughes who struck a fierce 10 yard volley that James, with a spectacular flying save, turned around the post.
After the interval, with the weather conditions worsening but now marginally in Town’s favour, they straightaway began probing the home defence. On 49 minutes John produced a stunning 35 yard drive that Donnelly, at full-stretch, turned around the post.
Then after 59 minutes Trystan Jones fired a long free-kick deep into the crowded Port Talbot penalty area where Surman leapt highest only to head the ball narrowly over the bar.
By now the home defence was under sustained pressure with the Carmarthen midfield unit operating well upfield.
On 66 minutes Walters, on the corner of the penalty area, struck a fierce angled shot that the increasingly busy Donnelly impressively turned aside.
Still the Old Gold could not manage to score the goal that their increasing pressure deserved – until, that is, the 73rd minute when all-time top scorer Liam Thomas reminded Town’s supporters of his predatory instincts for scoring goals.
Kieran Howard, from the right-wing, sent a fine cross into the goalmouth where Thomas, ahead of several defenders, timed his arrival perfectly and headed the ball firmly past Donnelly into the roof of the net.
Then after 77 minutes he scored again. Matthew Delaney, from near the touchline, crossed the ball towards the goalmouth and Tom Dyson headed it over the reach of Donnelly at the near post leaving Thomas with the opportunity of nodding the ball into the empty net.
Carmarthen went on to dominate the closing stages of the match. On 81 minutes John played a fine pass through to Thomas who had a clear run towards the penalty area – but Donnelly raced out to challenge him and did enough to force him to fire the ball into the side netting.
However Thomas was not yet finished in his thirst for goals. In the 88th minute John struck a fierce 20 yard volley that defeated the overworked Donnelly but struck the bar – Thomas, alert to the opportunity, pounced on the rebounding ball and fired it into the empty net to complete his third competitive hat-trick in the Old Gold colours.
What a special achievement this was for Liam to have marked this day, his 30th birthday, in this manner.
There was further good news from Richmond Park as Town Reserves won their match against Goytre United Reserves and now stand in joint first place in the FAW Cymru Reserve League South West.
Carmarthen’s next match is at Richmond Park against Trefelin on Saturday, November 19, k/o 2.30pm, while they play the same opponents in the away match on Saturday, December 4, k/o 2.30pm – both fixtures are for Cymru South League matches.
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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