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Croft excited by coaching opportunities

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Robert Croft: Linking up with England in South Africa

FORMER Pontarddulais player and current Glamorgan coach Robert Croft admits the prospect of one day guiding his beloved county excites him but admits he is still to decide whether to apply for the vacant head coach role.

Croft will head out to South Africa to link up with the England one-day squad at the end of January after being invited by ECB Team Director Andrew Strauss to join the national team and share his spin bowling expertise. Croft admits he would like to step up to the main role one day, but is unsure if now is the right time. “I have not made any decisions yet because I am aware there is a process in place,” said Croft. “I will discuss it long and hard with my family because they are the most important thing and then I will come up with a decision. “I’m under no illusions that it is a wonderful place to work and it’s a terrific job. I expect there will be a lot of people interested.

“I’m aware of all that and will make my decision in the next week or so and it’s certainly a job that appeals to me at this stage in my career. “I’m sure there will be lots of people interested in coaching at what a wonderful club we have here and in time the decision-makers will make that choice and we’ll wait and see what comes of it. Croft who only retired from playing in September 2012 applied for the head coach role two years ago, but admits he has developed as a coach since then. “I think I have picked up on managing people more,” added Croft. “When I first went into coaching I saw things through a technical and tactical lens, but potentially not through the people management lens. “What I have learned is how much the players already know and coaches don’t always have the answers.

“Crucially also you can’t ignore what I have learned from the senior players here at Glamorgan where we have a very good bunch who are teaching coaches like me every day. “It’s about trying to create the environment where the players can express themselves and bring out the undoubted talent they have. “I have benefited from the last two years and have worked under a couple of head coaches now and had time with Andy Flower last year. “So the bank of knowledge is building up, but it’s a far more difficult job to be coaching than playing. “As a player you are pretty much interested in what you have to do. As a coach you have to be aware of where and how everyone is. “You have to make decisions sometimes that are more difficult than others.”

Away from the Glamorgan position, Croft is relishing his stint in South Africa where he will return to the international stage for the first time since his last England playing appearance in 2001 after being asked to link up with the one-day squad on a secondment. “It’s a 12-day trip to South Africa and I’m so excited about it,” explained Croft, who played 21 Tests and 50 one-day internationals for England between 1996 and 2001. “I had a phone call from Andrew Strauss asking if I’d consider going out and being in the environment for the spinners, primarily to help discuss experiences on the field with them, nothing technical, purely tactical. “Hopefully it will be an experience I will gain from. To go and work with Paul Farbrace and head coach Trevor Bayliss, who have had such success at the highest level, when you think back to the Ashes and also in preparation for the T20 World Cup, it will be nice to bring it back here to Glamorgan. “It will hopefully give me extra lenses to look through at the game of cricket. I’m also looking forward to getting the juices flowing of international sport again to see what that will be like. “I had great years in the England team which luckily coincided with great years in the Glamorgan team. “To get the training top out and get a boost from seeing players do well is what any coach wants. “I’m relishing rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in and seeing what I can bring to the table.”

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Late goal sees Lido beat Ammanford

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Report and photo courtesy of Ian Parfitt

AMMANFORD suffered the heartbreak of late defeat at Afan Lido on Friday night with an 87th minute winner from Liam Griffiths securing a 2-1 win and all three points for the hosts.

Afan Lido started the match on the front foot and Ammanford were clearly struggling with the pace on Lido’s flanks. A foul in the box led to a penalty for Lido in the 11th minute which was dispatched by Chris Jones.

Afan Lido were largely on top in the first half however were unable to add to their goal. Ammanford were restricted to half chances although Callum Silcox did hit the post with an angled shot.

Ammanford would have hoped for an early goal in the second half and that’s exactly what they got in the 48th minute, the excellent Jordan Langley spotting the keeper off his line and hitting a looping shot into the net from 30 yards.

This goal clearly settled Ammanford and spurred on by a vociferous away support went in search of a second goal.

Afan Lido rode their luck in the 63rd minute when Owyn Airey smashed a shot against the bar.
Callum Silcox then forced Lido keeper Steve Cann into an excellent save in the 74th minute with a rasping, long range effort.

Ammanford looked the most likely team to score and had several other opportunities which they failed to convert.

Ammanford were playing well with Morgan Clarke particularly influential in midfield.

Just when it looked as if a hard fought contest was heading for a draw Griffiths swept home from close range in the 87th minute following a Lido corner.

Ammanford frantically went in search of a second equaliser in the time that remained but this eluded them and the final whistle brought about feelings of what could have been for the away team.

Ammanford will look to put things right in their next match, a home encounter against Goytre Utd on Friday (Sept 30).

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Williams’ wonder strike sinks Village

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CWMAMMAN United came away from a hard fought match at near neighbours Garden Village in front of a large crowd with the three points following a powerful strike from Sion Dafydd Williams.

It was the second win on the trot for Cwm and manager Paul Lewis will have been especially pleased with a second consecutive clean sheet.

Cwm started well and dominated the first half that saw a Cory Saunders inswinging corner beat everyone and bounce out off the far post while Williams then later saw his shot agonisingly trickle past the post.

A high ball in to the Village box then hit the defender’s hand and Cwm had a penalty. Kyle Ashford struck it well but it was a tad too high and Wyn Walters made an excellent save. Charlie Davies then had an opportunity following a great move but fired just wide.

Ross Morgan, Ashford and Davies were dominating midfield while Grant Rees and Callum Dougal in the heart of the defence were controlling the Village attacks.

The goal was coming but not expected as spectacularly as it did when in the 39th minute a cross into the box saw Sion Dafydd Williams leaving Walters with no chance as he rocketed the ball into the net from the edge of the box as he seemed to be facing away from goal.

As the first period Garden Village will have been relieved to see half time just a goal down and will have been happy that they were still in it.

The second half saw a more even game with Walters again making excellent saves from Keiran Richards and from a Williams header. Village were now breaking more and Kai Rees who had tidied up excellently behind the Cwm defence throughout had to make a great finger tip save in the 70th minute.

Both sides then had to make changes due to injury with Cwm losing Leon Croucher, Williams and Richards to be replaced by Harrison

Thomas, Jordan Sullivan and Alex Giardelli returning to his old club.

Cwm seemed to be seeing the game out comfortably but had a late scare when Giardelli was given a red card for a reckless challenge in the 98th minute and nervously had to defend one last free kick.

An important win in the context of the season and Cwm now entertain Treharris Athletic on Saturday, October 1, at Grenig Park, 2.30pm

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Amman earn first win of the season

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AMMAN United claimed their first win of the season after an opening-day draw, and a cup defeat at Haverfordwest last weekend.

However, you would have been hard pushed to imagine a 50-point final-score when, just before half time, the score remained 0-0.

But two injury time scores had then given Amman an unlikely 12-0 interval lead against the Bulldogs.

A bright opening from United saw centre Gavin Lewis, on yet another comeback, show his trickery with a nice run and offload early on. Hooker George Clark had a fine game and was in the thick of everything, as were fellow forwards Iwan Davies, Dan Jones, Rhydian Jones and captain Alun Lewis.

Bynea suffered a very early blow, losing Corey Butler to an untimely injury, and they were later to also see Jamie Thomas limp off before half time.

These injuries meant a large period of added-time, and the Bulldogs’ valiant defence cracked during the injury-time as Joel Foster and Alun Lewis combined to put in flanker Rhydian Jones for the opening try, which Tom Caddell converted.

A frustrating couple of minutes for the visitors was compounded when a quick tap and go penalty from scrum half Foster saw him smuggle over the try line for a second try on the stroke of half time.

The Reds continued in good heart after the restart, and after some good play,Foster and and Dan Jones were involved before Rhydian Jones slipped a fine offload to skipper Alun Lewis who went under the posts for another converted try.

Another “vet” came on, Adrian Thomas off the bench as the home side largely dominated with their pack in the ascendency, Cian Lewis, Jason Knell and Rhys Phillips having put in a good shift throughout.

The Bulldogs then had a purple patch for a while,centre Jack Mal almost finishing off a fine move, before more calamity struck for them as Jake Sam was sadly stretchered off.

Amman capitalised and grabbed a bonus point try when the excellent George Clarke went over for another score to make it 24-0.

But the dogged visitors were always a threat, and carved out an excellent try for their efforts as wing Nathan Baker finished off a well-worked team move, which outside half Finlay Cook converted.

Amman hit back when the back row combined well before Dan Jones went over the whitewash for a try.

A very young Bynea side battled to the end,and some more excellent play was rewarded with a try for Tom Badger, converted by Cook.

However, the home side had the last word and grabbed a very late injury time try as the industrious Rhydian Jones crossed for the final score of the game.

Amman face a tough trip to Tumble on Saturday, October 1, while Bynea are home against New Dock Stars.

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