More than just a football club

Newtown 2 - 3 Carmarthen Town

Match Report – Newtown v Carmarthen Town (26 October 2016)

Newtown (2)  Carmarthen Town (3) (AET)  – Nathanial MG League Cup Quarter-Final

In an absorbing cup-tie Carmarthen twice came back from being a goal down before securing a narrow victory over Newtown with a scrambled third goal late in extra-time, a fitting reward after a highly commendable performance to which every player, demonstrating extreme fitness levels and an immense work ethic, contributed.

The match began at a frantic pace with the play quickly switching from end to end – and this would remain the pattern of this entertaining open game throughout.  Initially both defences coped well when under pressure, although each survived an early scare as crosses flew through the crowded goalmouths with the ball just evading both forwards and defenders.

Then on 13 minutes Newtown managed the first serious chance when Jamie Price sent a free-kick into the penalty area where Shane Sutton directed his close-range glancing header too high.  Moments later Ross Stephens released a long-range drive that ‘keeper Lee Idzi carefully watched sail just over the bar.

The Old Gold soon responded as Liam Thomas, in the 17th minute, raced down the left-wing before playing the ball across to Declan Carroll who struck a fierce 20 yard shot which, sadly, went too straight and ‘keeper Dave Jones was well placed to claim it.

For a spell the Robins enjoyed the greater share of possession and territorial advantage but Town’s defence, and in particular the formidable central partnership of Dave Vincent and Lee Surman, remained composed and resilient and Idzi was never noticeably tested.

Meanwhile the visitors were still looking a threat with a series of counter-attacks and on 46 minutes they forged their best chance so far.  Midfielder Keiran Lewis, who with his energy and vision was so often the architect of Carmarthen’s best moments, produced a sublime pass that set Thomas racing beyond the home defence and into the penalty area – from a sharp angle he hit a crisp drive that Jones, advancing from his goal, did well to block and Lewis, with the empty net ahead of him and covering defenders close-by, only just failed to reach the loose ball for an inviting scoring chance.

Throughout the first-half Thomas, operating as a lone striker, had looked rather isolated at the forefront of Town’s attacking movements but after the interval manager Mark Aizlewood added substitute Mark Jones and together these two joint top scorers would prove to be a more potent spearhead.

The Old Gold took the early initiative and after 55 minutes a slick exchange of passes between Jones and Lewis led to an opening for Carroll who, from 12 yards, dispatched a promising angled volley that was turned aside by a defender.

Yet after 58 minutes Newtown went ahead when Stephens’ corner-kick into a packed goalmouth found Jason Oswell whose glancing header from close-range flew into the net.

But their lead lasted barely 60 seconds – Town burst forward from the re-start with Ceri Morgan feeding the ball through to Lewis just inside the penalty area and he swiftly played it across to Thomas who turned sharply to create space then fired home leaving the ‘keeper well beaten.  Moments later they forged another chance when Dan Sheehan’s quick throw-in released Carroll who moved across the edge of the penalty area before releasing a smart strike that Jones safely held.

However, as the pace of the game increased the Robins regained the lead on 66 minutes in somewhat controversial circumstances when, after Luke Boundford fell under a challenge from Jordan Knott near the goalmouth, the referee awarded a penalty despite the visitors’ protestations – Stephens comfortably converted the spot-kick.

The Old Gold renewed their efforts in search of another equaliser and found success in the 76th minute – after good work by Carroll inside the penalty area the ball was played back to Craig Hanford who sent a deep cross towards the far post where Lewis produced a stunning volley that flew into the net.

Then on 79 minutes Newtown went close with a swift counter-attack that finished with Oswell, inside the penalty area, hitting an angled drive that Idzi resisted with a marvellous full-length save.  And in the last action of normal time Town were denied a winning goal when substitute Danny Thomas slid a fine pass through to Sheehan who from the right touchline floated a searching cross into the goalmouth where Mark Jones managed a close-range header that was diverted narrowly around the post by a defender.

As the match went into extra-time, both teams had early chances.  In the 96th minute Danny Thomas played the ball forward to Carrroll just outside the penalty area but he saw his rasping 20 yard shot denied by Dave Jones with a smart low save.  Moments later Thomas pounced on a poor defensive clearance and struck a fierce 25 yard effort narrowly over the bar.

Then on 103 minutes Thomas became the visitors’ saviour at the other end of the pitch when from a corner the ball reached Oswell who hit a sharp close-range strike which Town’s player-coach blocked on the goal-line and cleared to safety.  And on 110 minutes Idzi rescued his side when he produced another stylish save to turn an impressive long-range volley from Price over the bar.

But only two minutes from the end of extra-time, just as the prospect of a penalty shoot-out was looking increasingly likely, the Old Gold captured a third goal – from the right touchline Lewis sent a dangerous cross into the heavily congested goalmouth where Mark Jones managed to get a vital touch on the ball and stab it into the net. 

So, Carmarthen’s ‘love affair’ with the League Cup continues with this victory which secures a semi-final place for the fourth time in the past five seasons – and of course on those first two occasions they went on to win the trophy.    

Team: Lee Idzi;  Jordan Knott (sub Danny Thomas 82);  Lee Surman;  Dave Vincent;  Dan Sheehan;  Craig Hanford;  Kyle Bassett (sub Mark Jones 46);  Kieran Lewis;  Ceri Morgan;  Declan Carroll;  Liam Thomas.
Unused Sub: Neil Smothers.Cards:  None
Goals: Liam Thomas (59); Kieran Lewis (76); Mark Jones (118).

Airbus UK Broughton 1-1 Carmarthen

Match Report – Airbus UK Broughton v Carmarthen Town (22 October 2016)

Airbus UK Broughton (1) Carmarthen Town (1)

Carmarthen, despite having to endure significant spells of pressure from Airbus throughout this match, produced a thoroughly workmanlike performance full of energy and commitment to secure a hard-earned draw – remarkably, this was the first time in 18 games over six seasons that these clubs have shared the points.

The opening period of this game was essentially uninspiring, uneventful and best forgotten.  In fact it was not until the 18th minute that Airbus enlivened the proceedings when a long cross-field pass reached James Murphy who struck a 25 yard shot which took a deflection off Kieran Lewis that required ‘keeper Lee Idzi to adjust instinctively and turn the ball over the bar with an impressive flying save.

Moments later Tony Gray raced deep into the penalty area then from the by-line played the ball neatly back to Ryan Edwards who saw his close-range effort blocked in front of goal by Dave Vincent. And on 25 minutes smart footwork by Ashley Williams inside the penalty area gave him the space to release a promising angled strike that Idzi forced away with another fine reflex save.

Midway through the first-half Town’s squad, already depleted by the absence of several key players due to injuries and suspension, were further weakened by the departure of central defender Dwaine Bailey with an injury.  Yet after 34 minutes they at last managed their first notable scoring opportunity when Lewis won possession just beyond the half-way line and moved forward before threading the ball across to Liam Thomas who from 25 yards dispatched a fierce shot that was beaten safely away by ‘keeper Ryan Neild.

Then, with the Old Gold continuing to show rather more adventure and promise than hitherto, they went close again on 40 minutes when the lively Thomas intercepted a poor back-pass close to the by-line and from a difficult angle fired a smart drive that flew past Neild but finished in the side netting.

However straightaway Airbus struck back with an incisive counter-attack which secured for them the goal they had been threatening for some time – Gray slid the ball through to Jamie Menagh who was clear inside the penalty area and he made no mistake by rifling it beyond Idzi’s reach and into the far corner of the net.

After the interval the hosts continued to put Town’s defence under pressure and perhaps should have increased their lead in the 54th minute when Menagh won the ball in a midfield challenge with Craig Hanford then raced away to the edge of the penalty area but, with Idzi advancing swiftly from his goal, he wastefully fired wide of the target.  Next, following a corner, Gray’s close-range effort was cleared safely away from in front of goal by Jordan Knott.

Yet the Old Gold were still breaking forward with occasional encouraging counter-attacks and soon afterwards a break down the right-wing finished with Lewis sending an inviting pass across to Carroll just outside the penalty area but he saw his crisp drive fly narrowly wide of the post.

As the pace of the game continued to escalate, another rapid break on 66 minutes, started by Vincent playing a long ball upfield from inside his own penalty area, finished with a neat exchange of passes between Kyle Bassett and Thomas who set up a decent chance for Mark Jones but his 20 yard angled strike slid marginally wide of the far post.

The Wingmakers responded again with Menagh bursting forward from the half-way line beyond Town’s defence and into the penalty area – yet Idzi, once more, frustrated the striker who saw his rasping drive defeated by the experienced ‘keeper’s marvellous reflex save.

And the Old Gold fully capitalised on that escape by equalising within 60 seconds, albeit with significant help from their opponents.  From the start Airbus had spent considerable time in defence casually passing the ball sideways, or else backwards to Neild, without achieving any apparent advantage other than simply retaining possession.  Yet on this occasion Paul Connolly woefully misjudged his pass across the penalty area which Carroll, alert to the prospect, gratefully intercepted and instantly drilled the ball past Neild and into the back of the net.

The home side renewed their attacking momentum but, despite constant probing, were unable to make any telling impression on Town’s defence which, well marshalled by the influential and accomplished Vincent, remained stubbornly resilient – and behind them Idzi, yet again, demonstrated his customary assured and safe handling whenever necessary.

At the close of the week-end’s Welsh Premier League programme Carmarthen remain in 8th position but only two points behind 4th placed Bala who they entertain at Richmond Park in their next League fixture on Saturday (29th October k/o 2.30pm).

Team: Lee Idzi;  Dan Sheehan;  Dwaine Bailey (sub Craig Hanford 26);  Dave Vincent;  Jordan Knott; Kyle Bassett (sub Danny Thomas 68);  Kieran Lewis;Ceri Morgan;  Declan Carroll;  Liam Thomas; Mark Jones.
Unused Subs: Neil Smothers;  Iwan Roberts;  Rhodri Cole.
Cards: None
Goal: Declan Carroll (70).

Carmarthen Town 3 - 1 Newtown

Carmarthen Town (3) Newtown (1)

Carmarthen produced a highly spirited display to emerge with three invaluable points from this battle of the two clubs that were beforehand occupying the basement places in the Welsh Premier League – and while lively striker Liam Thomas looked to be back to his best with two clinically taken goals, Town were greatly indebted to experienced goalkeeper Lee Idzi who defied Newtown with a series of outstanding saves.

Carmarthen overcome Goytre to reach last eight

CARMARTHEN eventually progressed quite comfortably to the next round of the League Cup although Goytre made the game competitive with frequent bursts of attacking football that demonstrated why they currently top the Welsh League averaging more than three goals a game.

10-man Old Gold suffer narrow Deeside defeat

JUST eight days after a narrow defeat at runaway Welsh Premier League leaders The New Saints, Carmarthen faced second-placed Connah’s Quay, the only other unbeaten team in the League. And while the margin of defeat was the same, the Old Gold’s performance was distinctly different – sadly, less impressive and tarnished by the dismissal of Lee Surman midway through the second-half.