Game 1 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Aberystwyth v Carmarthen Town (16 August 2019)
Aberystwyth (3) Carmarthen Town (2)
Carmarthen opened their Cymru Premier League season with a disappointing defeat at old rivals Aberystwyth despite having taken an early lead – but a number of defensive errors allowed the hosts to seize the initiative and eventually win the match quite comfortably. And although a Luke Bowen goal very late in the game made the final score-line look quite respectable it could not disguise Town’s failings over much of the game.
After a brief early spell of fast-paced but fairly unproductive midfield activity the match sprang to life in the 11th minute when Lewis Harling produced a superb long diagonal pass that set Bowen sprinting forward and into the penalty area only to be clumsily brought down by ‘keeper Terry McCormick – inevitably the referee awarded a spot-kick which Liam Thomas, demonstrating his customary clinical accuracy from 12 yards, drove the ball into the corner of the net.
Aber responded positively as they began enjoying far more possession and putting greater pressure on the visitors’ defence although initially they were unable to fashion any meaningful scoring chances. Too often passes were misplaced or possession was carelessly surrendered – failings which the Old Gold were equally guilty of on the few occasions that they were able to break upfield on the counter-attack.
However on 26 minutes the Seasiders went close to levelling the score when Wes Baynes, on the right flank, sent a long pass through to Paulo Mendes who took the ball forward to the by-line before crossing it into the penalty area where Marc Williams struck a smart15 yard drive that slid just wide of the far post.
But eventually after 39 minutes they were successful – Mathew Jones from the left-wing fired the ball into the goalmouth where Williams, despite the close presence of several Town defenders, was able to find the time and space to plant his close-range header into the top corner of the net.
And shortly afterwards the hosts had another decent chance when following a corner-kick Stuart Jones connected with a subtle glancing header that ‘keeper Lee Idzi blocked with an impressive flying save before defender Jordan Knott, well placed in front of the goal, cleared the ball safely away.
After the interval the Old Gold started brightly and kept pressure on the home defence albeit without seriously testing McCormick – but on 52 minutes he was needed when Elliot Scotcher, near the right touchline, fired a free-kick into the packed goalmouth where Dave Vincent rose high above home defenders and produced a promising close-range header that the veteran ‘keeper turned smartly around the post.
Yet a goal did soon arise, but unfortunately at the other end of the pitch. In the 55th minute a huge clearance from McCormick landed just outside the opposition penalty area and should have been comfortably dealt with by Town’s defenders – it wasn’t. Lee Surman, under no real pressure, attempted to head the ball back to Idzi who had naturally advanced well out of his goal to take possession – but the experienced defender’s header was so woefully weak that it was easily intercepted by Williams who gratefully fired the ball into the empty net.
However Carmarthen responded well to that setback – on 57 minutes Scotcher’s corner-kick reached Ceri Morgan on the edge of the penalty area and the lively midfielder dispatched a stunning volley that flew beyond McCormick’s reach but, sadly, narrowly over the bar.
Yet that resurgence was short-lived. After 68 minutes Town’s defence failed to deal with a routine right-wing cross played towards the far corner of the penalty area, allowing the ball to reach Boundford – several defenders then seemed content to simply watch the prolific striker cut inside to a more central position before promptly dispatching a powerful angled volley that left Idzi well-beaten.
To their credit the Old Gold continued to press forward and a flurry of substitutions helped liven-up their progress – but the home defence comfortably resisted the few scoring efforts that emerged until the 90th minute when Jordan Vickers fired a right-wing cross towards the goalmouth where Gwion Howell’s glancing header was spilled by McCormick to present Bowen with the simple task, from close-range, of tapping the loose ball into the unguarded net. However that was too little, too late.
So a game that started so promisingly for Carmarthen with an early goal soon sadly degenerated as passes were carelessly misplaced while possession was surrendered all too easily – and, eventually, some unwelcome moments of miserable Town defending effectively settled the result in the opposition’s favour. And, with that, the Old Gold’s thrilling 6-2 victory over Aberystwyth in the final match of last season has now become a very distant memory.
Carmarthen’s next fixture is against Newtown at Richmond Park on Friday 23rd August (k.o 8.00pm) in a match that is to be televised live on S4C – then on Bank Holiday Monday 26th August (k/o 2.30pm) Town travel north to Connah's Quay.
Lee Idzi; Greg Walters; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Chris Jones (sub Gwion Howell 84); Ceri Morgan; Elliot Scotcher (Jordan Vickers 75); Lewis Harling; Liam Thomas (sub Josh Bull 75); Luke Bowen;
Unused Subs: Declan Carroll; Craig Hanford; Tom Windsor (GK);
Goals: Liam Thomas (pen 12); Luke Bowen (90);
Cards: (Y) Jordan Knott (76); Lee Surman (91);
Game 2 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Newtown (23 August 2019)
Carmarthen Town (1) Newtown (2)
Carmarthen began their home programme of the new Cymru Premier League season with a disappointing defeat against Newtown in a match that was televised live on S4C – a result which, on the overall balance of play, the visitors fully deserved.
Right from the start the Old Gold were put under pressure by the lively visitors who, with slick passing, were quick to break forward through the midfield – and after only 3 minutes they went ahead with a goal that owed much to some poor Town defending. Alex Fletcher propelled a huge throw-in towards the packed goalmouth and, while defenders failed to clear the danger, striker Nick Rushton got ahead of Elliot Scotcher and from close-range stabbed the ball past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.
Yet thankfully Carmarthen reacted positively to that setback and began to compete much better in midfield – the match straightaway developed into a more evenly-balanced contest as the play switched quickly from end to end. But with both defences performing quite soundly no decent scoring opportunities initially emerged.
Gradually this led to a phase when the Old Gold posed the greater goal threat. After 25 minutes Scotcher sent an inviting corner beyond the crowded goalmouth to find Greg Walters who instantly drove the ball just wide of the post and into the side netting.
Then on 27 minutes, as the pace of the game began to quicken, a long pass from Liam Thomas on the half-way line was chased by Luke Bowen who outpaced Kieran Mills-Evans to reach the corner of the penalty area – he then dispatched a rasping drive that Jones blocked with a smart reflex save before Craig Williams cleared the ball safely away.
Yet in the 36th minute Town got back on level terms when Scotcher delivered a perfect corner into the packed goalmouth and saw Dave Vincent rise high above the Robins’ defenders and head the ball powerfully into the roof of the net.
So after a shaky start to this match when Carmarthen’s midfielders, who it seemed were sorely missing the energy and combative presence of the absent Ceri Morgan, struggled to compete with and contain the opposition, gradually improved their performance. However, worryingly, familiar failings that emerged during the defeat at Aberystwyth last week were again in evidence – namely, careless passing and surrendering possession all too easily.
And soon after the interval one such incident led directly to Newtown regaining the lead. In the 49th minute Naill Flint intercepted a hopelessly misdirected cross-field pass from Walters and then straightaway threaded the ball through to Ian Sheridan who held off Vincent’s challenge and from just inside the penalty area slid the ball past Idzi and into the bottom corner of the net.
The Old Gold responded positively to that setback when on 60 minutes Scotcher launched a huge pass upfield that set Bowen sprinting forward and into the penalty area but, after neatly weaving around Mills-Evans, he sent his close-range angled strike just wide of the near post.
Then on 67 minutes Town fashioned another decent chance – Scotcher fired a right-wing cross towards the goalmouth which Bowen, with a deft touch, diverted across to substitute Josh Bull who from 8 yards struck a promising shot that, sadly, was blocked in front of goal by Williams.
The match continued at a frantic pace with the play flowing back and forth. In the 68th minute Lifumpa Mwandwe burst clear of nearby defenders and into the penalty area but Idzi, alert to the danger, raced quickly out of his goal and expertly blocked the striker’s shot.
And on 77 minutes Newtown wasted an excellent chance to put their victory beyond doubt when Mwandwe fired a right-wing cross into the goalmouth only to see Ian Sheridan, from close range, stab the ball high over the bar.
For the remainder of the match the Robins seemed content to protect their narrow lead, while Carmarthen were unable to do anything to alter it in their favour.
The Old Gold have now started this season with two disappointing performances against teams that finished last season in mid-League positions – worryingly, their next two matches are against clubs that finished in the top three. A rapid improvement in Town’s performances and points return would be very welcome if the anxieties of prospective relegation that were suffered through most of last season are to be avoided in the coming months.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman (sub Gwion Howell 83); Jordan Knott; Chris Jones (sub Declan Carroll 65); Lewis Harling; Elliot Scotcher; Greg Walters; Liam Thomas (sub Josh Bull 65); Luke Bowen;
Unused Subs: Jay Woodford; Craig Hanford; Lewis Rocke;
Goal: Dave Vincent (36);
Cards: (Y) (Lewis Harling 20); Dave Vincent (65);
Game 3 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Connah’s Quay v Carmarthen Town (26 August 2019)
Connah’s Quay (1) Carmarthen Town (1)
Carmarthen, having lost both of their opening matches of the Cymru Premier League season following disappointing performances, travelled to North Wales to face a strong Connah’s Quay side and produced a very welcome and much improved display.
Yet Neil Smothers had made only one change from the starting line-up that faced Newtown just three days earlier – he named experienced midfielder Chris Jones as a substitute and replaced him with lively striker Josh Bull for his first full appearance for the Old Gold.
From the start the Nomads took the initiative with a series of penetrating attacks that kept the Town defence fully occupied but, despite a fair amount of activity in and around the penalty area, no serious scoring chances emerged. Crosses were often over-hit or comfortably cleared by the visitors’ defence while the few goal-scoring efforts that arose simply gave ‘keeper Lee Idzi the opportunity to demonstrate his customary safe and secure handling.
Then gradually the Old Gold, prompted by the industry and invention of midfielders Lewis Harling, Elliot Scotcher and Greg Walters, began pressing further upfield seeking to exploit the pace and movement of strikers Liam Thomas, Luke Bowen and Bull. And in the 19th minute Town’s record goal-scorer was denied a promising chance when Bull neatly slid the ball through to him just inside the penalty area only for defender John Disney to produce a well-timed challenge and clear the danger.
Yet on 27 minutes the Nomads went close when Nathan Woolfe struck an optimistic long-range drive that Idzi carefully watched as it slipped narrowly outside the post. Shortly afterwards Danny Holmes sent a right-wing cross into the goalmouth where Michael Wilde, from a good position, could only manage a weak header that Town’s experienced ‘keeper gratefully claimed – that epitomised the fairly miserable quality of the first-half finishing.
After the interval the game became more open and at last sprang to life in 53rd minute when Carmarthen took the lead. Scotcher fired a free-kick high into the packed penalty area and while the ball was headed clear it went straight to Walters who struck a stunning 20 yard drive that Thomas, amongst a crowd of players, cleverly diverted to send the ball beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lewis Brass and into the back of the net.
Shortly afterwards the Old Gold had the ball in the net again. Jordan Vickers made a strong run to the corner of the penalty area before crossing the ball low into the goalmouth where Thomas saw his close-range shot expertly blocked by Brass – however the loose ball rebounded nicely for Walters, following up, who drove it into the unguarded net. Yet only then, unfortunately, was it noticed by the elated Town players that the flag had been raised for an offside infringement.
Then on 68 minutes the Nomads virtually laid siege, briefly, to the Carmarthen goalmouth. Callum Roberts burst into the penalty area then dispatched a sharp 15 yard angled drive that Idzi, on the goal-line, resisted with an impressive reflex save – as the ball ran free Callum Morris was quick to react and, from close-range, struck another follow-up shot that hit the bar then bounced down and out to Roberts who straightaway dispatched a powerful volley that Idzi denied with a second superb reaction save.
Yet moments later Declan Poole fired the ball into the goalmouth to create another chaotic scramble from which Morris emerged to stab it into the corner of the net.
Town responded immediately to that setback. A short pass from Thomas set Bowen sprinting into the penalty area just ahead of Danny Holmes – the powerful striker then fell as a result of the defender’s clumsy challenge from behind but the referee, close to the action, inexplicably ignored the incident.
In the later stages of the match the hosts put the Old Gold defence under increasing pressure with Michael Bakare creating a particular threat with his pace and clever footwork. Yet the Carmarthen back-four, by now augmented by substitute Craig Hanford along with midfielders Walters, Scotcher and Carroll, remained sound and secure. But amongst that collective effort the performance of experienced central pairing, Lee Surman and Dave Vincent, was especially valuable since throughout the match they capably neutralized the threat normally posed by Nomads’ prolific strikers Wilde and Ryan Wignall.
However twice, late on, the hosts threatened to score a winning goal. On 89 minutes Roberts raced into the penalty area and from close-range struck a smart shot that Vincent, with a timely intervention, blocked in front of goal. And moments later Roberts again was involved when he moved into the penalty area only to be denied by Idzi racing well out of his goal to clear the ball safely away.
On the overall balance of play Town certainly deserved this point against a strong Connah's Quay side that will surely finish high in the CPL table as they have done in recent seasons.
As for the Old Gold, continuing improvements in both performances and points returns would be very welcome.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Greg Walters; Elliot Scotcher; Lewis Harling (sub Declan Carroll 60); Josh Bull (sub Craig Hanford 77); Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;
Unused Subs: Chris Jones; Gwion Howell; Jay Woodford;
Goal: Liam Thomas (53);
Cards: (Y) Dave Vincent (64);
Game 4 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Barry Town United (30 August 2019)
Carmarthen Town (0) Barry Town United (1)
Carmarthen, fresh from their impressive performance against a strong Connah’s Quay side, faced another in-form team, Barry Town United who were joint top of the Cymru Premier League going into this match. However, worryingly, it soon became clear that the Old Gold appeared to have reverted to the form displayed in their disappointing defeats in their two opening fixtures against Aberystwyth and Newtown.
Yet Town actually made a promising start as they put early pressure on the United defence with frequent raids through the midfield – but despite reaching the penalty area on several occasions the Old Gold, in the face of some resolute defending, were unable to produce any serious scoring chances. And, worryingly, their progress was often hampered by an increasingly familiar failing this season – giving the ball away all too easily.
Gradually the visitors began competing more effectively and the match became more evenly balanced. It was now the home defenders as well who were forced to cope with the pressure generated by Barry’s lively strikers and initially they were successful – and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never really tested.
Indeed, their first worrying moment only arose after 25 minutes when a long pass upfield bisected the Town back-line and was chased by Kayne McLaggon – but Idzi raced swiftly well out of his penalty area and cleared the ball safely away.
United continued to press forward and probe the home defence with methodical passing patterns and sharp bursts towards the penalty area – but, again, they faced stern resistance from a well-drilled defensive unit expertly marshalled by experienced central defenders Lee Surman and Dave Vincent.
Then on 30 minutes Jack Compton sent a fine pass across to Drew Fahiya on the corner of the penalty area and he drove the ball into the goalmouth where Vincent, with a timely intervention, cleared the danger. The consequent corner-kick created chaos in the packed goalmouth until Idzi dived bravely down at Callum Sainty’s feet to claim the ball on the goal-line.
The only other notable scoring opportunity in the first-half arose in the 38th minute when Jonathan Hood, on the left flank, sent a searching cross towards the goalmouth where McLaggon sent his close-range header just wide of the post with Idzi well-placed to ensure the safety of his goal.
After the interval the play initially was largely confined to the midfield with no notable goalmouth activity at either end of the pitch to enliven the proceedings. But then on 58 minutes Town went close to opening the scoring when Declan Carroll cut in from the right flank and dispatched a fierce 20 yard strike that flew narrowly past the post.
Barry responded positively with several swift breaks which the Old Gold seemingly struggled to resist until the 69thminute when Robbie Patten played a short pass across to Clayton Green (one of three former Carmarthen players in the visitors’ match squad) who moved forward and then struck a wonderful 30 yard shot that flew beyond Idzi’s reach and into the top corner of the goal.
Shortly after that Idzi called for treatment for what appeared to be a lower leg injury and from then on he clearly struggled for the rest of the match.
The Old Gold immediately went in search of an equaliser by launching a series of penetrating attacks that kept the United defence under a fair amount of pressure. On 77 minutes Greg Walters, out wide on the left flank, fired a dangerous cross into the penalty area where Liam Thomas turned sharply past his marker and produced a stunning angled drive that ‘keeper George Ratcliffe, at full-stretch, turned around the post.
Then after 84 minutes Vickers sprinted along the right-wing then sent the ball across the edge of the penalty area to reach Thomas who saw his promising 15 yard volley fly marginally too high.
Moments later Walters cut inside from the left touchline and struck a rasping 30 yard drive that crashed against the foot of the post and rebounded safely away. And as the match went into added time Elliot Scotcher fired a free-kick into the packed penalty area – the ball was cleared but claimed by Walters who struck a 20 yard drive high over the bar.
Sadly the Old Gold, when they managed not to lose possession carelessly, failed to capitalise on several decent scoring chances which cost them a share of the points which, on the overall balance of play, they probably deserved.
Town, disappointingly, have now secured only one point from their opening four League matches but this is not their worst points return at this early stage of the season. As recently as the 2017/18 season all four games ended in defeat – however the downside is that this was the season at the end of which Carmarthen finished in the relegation places only to be reprieved, of course, as a result of FAW Licensing Regulations in relation to another club.
The Old Gold now return to Richmond Park for their next CPL fixture against Cardiff Met on Saturday 7th k/o 2.30pm.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Declan Carroll (sub Chris Jones 71); Elliot Scotcher; Greg Walters; Josh Bull (sub Ceri Morgan 57); Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;
Unused Subs: Lewis Harling; Jay Woodford; Craig Hanford; Tom Windsor (GK); Lewis Rocke;
Cards: (Y) Jordan Vickers (49); Dave Vincent (64);
Game 5 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Cardiff Met (7 September 2019)
Carmarthen Town (2) Cardiff Met (2)
Carmarthen are still struggling to secure that elusive first victory of the season despite producing several spells of impressive attacking football that earned them the lead on two occasions – but each time Cardiff Met, joint top of the Cymru Premier League going into this match, fairly soon got back on level terms.
From the start the game quickly developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair although there was no early prospect of any serious goalmouth action since both defences were dealing quite comfortably with the intermittent pressure.
It was only after 9 minutes that Town posed a threat when Greg Walters sent a fine cross-field pass out to Jordan Vickers who surged forward to reach the by-line then fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth but ‘keeper Alex Lang was swiftly out of his goal to claim the ball just as Luke Bowen leapt high to challenge for a close-range header.
Straightaway the Met responded – moving swiftly upfield they finished a smart sequence of passes that led to Mael Davies, from 20 yards, releasing a crisp shot that went just over the bar.
Moments later the hosts threatened again – Lewis Harling slid the ball through to Declan Carroll who reached the edge of the penalty area then dispatched a promising strike that flew narrowly too high.
By this stage, as the pace of the game continued to quicken, the Old Gold were clearly enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage – yet while their attractive approach play often took them towards the Met penalty area, they too often failed to produce that significant “final pass” that would unlock the opposition defence.
However at last, in the 22nd minute, they took a deserved lead when Carroll moved smartly in from the right touchline before sliding a fine pass across to defender Jordan Knott who, from 25 yards, struck a stunning drive that flew beyond Lang’s reach and into the corner of the net – this extends an ‘annual event’ for the adventurous defender who has scored once in each of the past three seasons all, however, from very close range!
Town continued to press forward in search of further success, driven by the commitment and creativity of midfielders Carroll, Harling, Elliot Scotcher and Walters – but no scoring chances emerged in the short-term. The only opportunity arose after 31 minutes when Scotcher fired a free-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Liam Thomas produced a subtle glancing header that was turned past the far post by a defender.
Throughout most of the first-half Cardiff, typically, engaged in plenty of their familiar passing drills but generally they failed to make any meaningful progress against Carmarthen’s defence which remained sound and disciplined, ensuring that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested.
But then, just as the first-half went into added time, a badly misplaced pass by Walters back towards his own penalty area was easily intercepted by Jordan Lam and, as Dave Vincent advanced to challenge him, he slid the ball across to Will Evans who from 15 yards and completely unmarked comfortably fired it past Idzi and into the net.
So, one regrettable moment of carelessness had undone all the good work that had been achieved in the previous 45 minutes.
After the interval the Old Gold once again began brightly. On 52 minutes Vincent threaded an excellent pass through to Harling who raced ahead of a defender to reach the edge of the penalty area then struck a rasping drive that defeated Lang but went just beyond the far post.
Then on 57 minutes Thomas, from near the centre-circle, sent a long pass forward to Bowen who sprinted towards the corner of the penalty area then dispatched a powerful angled shot that Lang instinctively turned aside.
However moments later Town regained the lead with a truly outstanding goal. Harling, from inside his own half, produced a huge lofted pass that set Bowen racing clear of defenders and towards the penalty area – then, noticing that Lang had come well out of his goal, the experienced striker produced a sensational 30 yard lofted volley that sailed over the stranded ‘keeper and into the far top corner of the net.
The Old Gold continued this very welcome spell of sustained attacking when on 64 minutes Carroll, near the left touchline, fired a huge cross deep into the goalmouth where Bowen, at the far post, rose high above his marker and produced a powerful close-range header that defeated Lang but, sadly, crashed against the bar and rebounded safely away.
Having luckily survived that latest threat on their goal, the Met began to press forward with greater intent than at any earlier stage of the second-half. But initially they were again faced with some formidable Town defending, amongst which the experienced central pairing of Vincent and Lee Surman were particularly influential, and the visitors failed to trouble Idzi in any meaningful way.
However in the 81st minute they at last levelled the score for the second time in this match. From the left touchline Dion Phillips played the ball across to Davies who moved forward then from 25 yards struck an impressive drive that flew beyond Idzi’s reach and into the top corner of the net.
So for the second successive match a recent former Carmarthen player (the other was Clayton Green for Barry Town) has returned to Richmond Park to frustrate the Old Gold by scoring a late goal, incredibly from roughly the same distance in the same top corner of the same net!
While the Met continued to press forward in the final stages, they were capably resisted by the Town defence.
In recent successive matches Carmarthen have competed well against the current two top teams in the CPL and, similarly, before that against a consistently strong Connah's Quay side – two drawn games and one narrow defeat were the outcome. In future matches however, if costly individual errors can be eradicated then surely a far healthier points return could be achieved.
Town’s next fixture is on Saturday 7th September (k/o 2.30pm) at Cefn Druids.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Declan Carroll (sub Chris Jones 67); Lewis Harling; Elliot Scotcher; Greg Walters (sub Ceri Morgan 81); Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen (sub Josh Bull 86);
Unused Subs: Jay Woodford; Craig Hanford; Tom Windsor (GK); Lewis Rocke;
Cards: (Y) Elliot Scotcher (42); Jordan Vickers (49);
Goals: Jordan Knott (22); Luke Bowen (59);
Additional Note: Liam Thomas makes his 200th WPL appearance for Carmarthen Town
This was the 200th WPL appearance (ie start) that Liam Thomas has made for Carmarthen Town – this is not only a landmark achievement in itself, but also it takes him above Paul Fowler (on 199) who has been at the top of the Club's all-time appearances list since the end of the 2014/15 season.
Liam first appeared for the Old Gold in a pre-season friendly against West End in July 2012 – he scored after just 8 minutes and went on to get a hat-trick. And he has been scoring goals, prolifically, ever since.
In his first WPL match that season, against Aberystwyth, he came on as a substitute in the 60th minute and scored the winning goal.
Later that season in his first League Cup match (against Bryntirion) he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory and a few weeks later in his first Welsh Cup match he repeated that feat when he scored twice in a 2-1 win at Holyhead.
At the end of the of the 2012/13 season Liam had scored 21 League and Cup goals and was Town’s top goal-scorer, an achievement that he has repeated in all but one of the six seasons ever since – in 2013/14 he scored 14 League and Cup goals but was eclipsed by Christian Doidge with 18 goals.
And, notably, last season was his most productive of all, finishing with a total of 26 goals (24 WPL plus 2 Welsh Cup). If that were not impressive enough, on February 15th at Llanelli he scored his first ever competitive hat-trick – then, having waited for almost seven seasons and some 225 League and Cup matches to achieve that feat, he repeated it just seven games later against Aberystwyth in the final match of the season at Richmond Park.
Of similar significance that season was his goal against Llandudno in April which took his total to 19 thereby surpassing the previous, long-standing Carmarthen record for WPL goals in a single season held jointly by Danny Thomas (2007/08) and Richard Parker (1999/00).
And to cap (literally) his outstanding season Liam was awarded his first Wales ‘C’ international cap for the match against England ‘C’ in March.
In addition, it is worth noting that Liam has missed only one WPL match (due to suspension for a fixture at Cefn Druids in November 2016) in the past four seasons which is testimony to his impressive form and fitness over these years.
Game 6 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Cefn Druids v Carmarthen Town (14 September 2019)
Cefn Druids (3) Carmarthen Town (3)
Carmarthen made the long trek to Cefn Druids in the knowledge that they travelled without a recognised goalkeeper due to Lee Idzi's withdrawal through injury and the unavailability of young Tom Windsor. Fortunately, however, Town had an eager volunteer to stand in the keeper's role in defender Jordan Knott who being a keen cricketer displayed all his catching skills and showed a fair deal of confidence in his role throughout.
The recent improved form of Town's performances was very much in evidence as they displayed a determined approach,despite their shortcomings before the game, and for large parts of the game, the team initiated a series of flowing moves that had the Druids very much on the back foot throughout.
Town opened brightly and when in the 3rd minute Declan Carroll lofted a weighted diagonal pass to the overlapping Greg Walters who blazed over.
Knott wasn't needed until the 12th minute. when he quickly picked up a loose through ball on the edge of his box. Though it was only a minute later when he picked the ball out of his net after Ramirez Howarth caught everyone unawares when his snap shot from 20 yards flew into the corner of the goal.
Only two minutes later Town were awarded a penalty when the referee adjudged that Liam Thomas was pushed in the back trying to control a bouncing ball – Thomas dispatched the spot kick with his usual aplomb.
Town were looking dangerous as the game progressed and deservedly took the lead in the 19th minute when a lovely weighted cross from Elliot Scotcher was headed in by the onrushing Luke Bowen.
In the 28th minute, after quick footwork by Carroll, Thomas took the ball and slid in a sublime pass for Bowen who advanced on the home goal but, though beating the ‘keeper, saw his shot cannon off the post.
The Druids, try as they might, could not break through Town's defence which was superbly held together by Lee Surman and Dave Vincent at the heart and ably supported by full backs Walters and Jordan Vickers.
Knott was only needed on two occasions during the rest of this half when he collected a through ball before Pape Diakhite could profit from it and later when he did well to collect a low cross in a crowded goalmouth.
Town started the second half as they had finished the first – in the 47th minute Bowen received a threaded ball from Thomas it looked ominous for the home side but Bowen, with only the ‘keeper to beat, slid his effort wide of the target.
The Druids team were growing in frustration as the match wore on in trying to get a foothold in the game and brought on the experienced Matty Owen and the effervescent Tyrone Ofori in the 52nd minute.
They only had to wait a short while for a change in the scoreline and in the 62nd minute Howarth showed quick feet in beating two would-be tackles, cut in from the right wing before unleashing a left footed 25 yard effort that nestled in the far corner of Town's goal.
Frustratingly and disappointingly for Town, the same player scored an almost copycat goal just a minute after to restore the home side's lead, very much against the run of play.
Rather than accept this fate, Town's midfield of Lewis Harling, Scotcher, Ceri Morgan and Carroll raised their game to another level and Scotcher was unlucky not to level the scores when put through by Bowen he fired over from 15 yards with an angled shot.
With their midfield almost in complete control Town continued to create chances and in the 77th minute deservedly drew level when a superb cross from substitute Chris Jones carved open the home defence leaving Bowen to gleefully bundle in at the far post.
Town again broke through the home defence when the grafting Thomas cut in from the right but saw his low cross to the far post, where two Town players were waiting, superbly cut out by Michael Jones in goal and the ball was hastily cleared for a corner before any Town player could react.
For Town, this really was an upbeat performance complemented by several players having undoubtedly their best performances of the season so far. It speaks volumes for the spirit in the squad when after being dealt a blow in going into the game with the loss of a regular ‘keeper, and then going behind on two occasions, they fought back to more than fully deserve their share of the spoils.
Next Saturday (21st September k/o 2.30pm) they face reigning champions TNS at Richmond Park in a completely different type of challenge as they attempt to try and climb up from their current League position.
Jordan Knott; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Greg Walters; Declan Carroll; Lewis Harling (sub Chris Jones 71); Elliot Scotcher; Ceri Morgan; Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;
Unused subs: Josh Bull; Danny Thomas; Craig Hanford; Lewis Rocke;
Goals: Liam Thomas (pen 15); Luke Bowen (19, 77);
Game 7 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v The New Saints (21 September 2019)
Carmarthen Town (2) The New Saints (6)
For 15 glorious minutes after the start of this match, with Carmarthen’s spirited part-timers having already taken a two-goal lead over perpetual Welsh Premier League champions and full-time professionals The New Saints, the Town supporters were entitled to anticipate that something special was unfolding – but then, sadly, the harsh realities of life in this League quickly began to emerge and, despite a very commendable performance from the Old Gold, TNS eventually cruised to a comfortable victory.
For the second successive match Town were without experienced goalkeeper Lee Idzi due to injury – deputising on this occasion was Academy player Tom Windsor making his first competitive appearance but far from being overawed by the occasion he produced an outstanding performance laced with a series of impressive saves.
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. But it soon became clear that Town were set up to counter that approach by defending deeply and packing the midfield with a five-man unit that not only provided a further defensive shield but also launched promising counter-attacks whenever the opportunity arose – consequently Luke Bowen, was effectively left to operate as the solitary nominal striker.
The first significant goalmouth action occurred on 6 minutes when Kurtis Byrne, from 15 yards, released a crisp shot that took a deflection off defender Lee Surman which forced Windsor into producing a superb reflex save before the ball was cleared safely away.
Yet soon afterwards, following a rare excursion deep into the TNS half, Town took a surprise lead when the ball was played into the penalty area where, inexplicably, neither goalkeeper Paul Harrison nor two defenders reacted to the danger but simply watched as Bowen capitalised on their collective indecision by gratefully firing the loose ball into the empty net.
And moments later, in the 11th minute, it got even better for the Old Gold – once more with some welcome help from the League champions. Elliot Scotcher fired a free-kick into the crowded penalty area and saw Saints defender Jon Routledge divert the ball past Harrison and into the back of the net.
However that further setback for the visitors was soon remedied – on 16 minutes Adrian Cieslewicz burst past Jordan Vickers on the left flank and into the penalty area then crossed the ball invitingly into the goalmouth where Aeron Edwards, unmarked, had the simple task of heading it into the roof of the net.
The Saints continued their patient progress through the midfield yet, faced with the resilience and determination of the Old Gold defence, they struggled initially to create further clear-cut scoring chances. But, after 23 minutes, following a right-wing cross from Kane Lewis the ball eventually reached Edwards just inside the penalty area and the lively striker dispatched a fierce angled volley that Windsor, with a spectacular flying save, turned safely away.
Town were now eagerly counter-attacking at every opportunity and on 28 minutes they went close to extending their lead when Scotcher, from the centre-circle, launched a fine cross-field pass that Bowen chased to the by-line – he crossed the ball into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas arrived at speed but just narrowly failed to connect for a simple tap-in chance.
Then in the 34th minute Town were again indebted to their young ‘keeper when Chris Marriott’s searching free-kick deep into the penalty area found Edwards who produced a smart close-range header that Windsor, with an impressive reflex save, tipped over the bar.
But shortly afterwards even he was powerless to prevent the visitors from levelling the scores. Marriott raced into the penalty area and drove the ball across the goalmouth where prolific striker Greg Draper, unmarked, stabbed it into the roof of the net.
After the interval TNS made a lively start and soon took the lead when Byrne sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Draper, at the near post, reacted quicker than any defender and confidently fired the ball past Windsor and into the net.
They then proceeded to largely control the game as Town’s attacking opportunities became far less frequent, not least because they managed so few spells of meaningful possession. On 50 minutes the Saints looked certain to add a fourth goal when Draper raced clear of the Carmarthen back-four and into the penalty area only to be denied a straightforward scoring chance by Windsor who bravely dived down at the striker’s feet to claim the ball. Then after 56 minutes Cieslewicz sent a corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Marriott saw his goal-bound header diverted against the bar by Vickers before the ball bounced safely away.
Shortly afterwards the Old Gold had a rare scoring chance when Lewis Harling, from the half-way line, opened up the Saints defence with a fine pass that set Bowen racing forward along the left-flank – but sadly his attempt to cross the ball to Thomas, arriving at speed on the edge of the penalty area, was badly misplaced and the chance was lost.
TNS, however, were far more clinical whenever opportunities arose. On 66 minutes a clearance from the Town penalty area landed nicely for Byrne who instantly struck a stunning 30 yard drive beyond Windsor’s reach and into the top corner of the goal.
And after 75 minutes they further extended their lead when a poor clearance by Surman was easily claimed by Marriott – he gave possession to Edwards who slipped all too easily past two defenders then neatly side-stepped Windsor and fired the ball into the empty net. It then got even worse for the hosts on 80 minutes when Edwards’ fine pass set Byrne sprinting clear and into the penalty area before drilling the ball past Windsor from close range.
However the young goalkeeper saved the Old Gold from yet further embarrassment in the closing minutes of the match. Firstly, a slick TNS passing move finished with Josh Bailey striking a close-range shot that Windsor expertly blocked on the goal-line – then moments later Ethan Short struck a fierce 20 yard drive that the youngster turned aside with another stunning flying save. This concluded a busy, but highly impressive, first-team debut for the Academy ‘keeper – something for Town supporters to savour after this disappointing result.
Tom Windsor; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Greg Walters (sub Josh Bull 69); Ceri Morgan; Elliot Scotcher; Lewis Harling (sub Lewis Rocke 87); Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen (sub Chris Jones 77);
Unused subs: Neil Smothers; Danny Thomas; Craig Hanford;
Goals: Luke Bowen (8); OG [Jon Routledge] (11);
MG NATHANIEL CUP R3
Match Report – Briton Ferry Llansawel v Carmarthen Town (24 September 2019)
Briton Ferry Llansawel (0) Carmarthen Town (2) – Nathanial MG League Cup R3
Carmarthen progressed to the League Cup Quarter-Finals with a relatively comfortable victory over Cymru South side Briton Ferry thanks to two opportunist goals from lively striker Josh Bull who was making his first starting appearance since signing for the Old Gold in the summer. And there was another start for Academy goal-keeper Tom Windsor who impressed on his debut just three days earlier against current WPL Champions The New Saints.
Town started positively, dominating possession with some slick passing patterns and patiently building pressure on the home defence which, initially, remained secure. However gradually the Reds began competing far better and the pace of game quickened as it soon developed into an entertaining end-to-end affair. Yet still, no genuine scoring opportunities arose often due to a poor “final pass” or simply sound defending by the opposition.
Then at last, on 22 minutes, Greg Walters pierced the Reds’ defence with a sublime pass that set Jordan Knott racing free into the penalty area only for defender Sam Baker to produce a remarkable late intervention and clear the ball safely away.
The home side eventually managed a scoring effort after 39 minutes but following Stephen Davey’s corner-kick Harri Horwood, from close-range, misdirected his looping header which Windsor carefully watched sail over the bar.
Moments later Ceri Morgan, after some neat footwork that bewildered his marker, sent the ball across to Bull who from wide in the penalty area struck a fierce drive towards the goalmouth that ‘keeper Callum Williamson scrambled clear from in front of goal. And Bull, with his searing pace and startling mobility, would go on to torment the Reds defenders for the rest of the match.
Then in the 42nd minute the Old Gold deservedly took the lead. Chris Jones, from near the centre-circle, produced a perfectly judged lofted pass that Bull, having outpaced a defender, reached just on the edge of the penalty area – he then calmly and confidently fired the ball past Williamson and into the corner of the net.
After the interval Town again took the early initiative and were soon rewarded with a second goal on 50 minutes. Elliot Scotcher, from the half-way line, sent a searching pass forward to Bull who raced away from his marker with embarrassing ease and then, from just inside the penalty area, struck a stunning volley that flew past Williamson and into the roof of the net.
However, as earlier, the match soon became a more evenly-balanced affair although the hosts were still unable to penetrate the Old Gold defence in any meaningful way.
Indeed the next notable action arose on 63 minutes when Morgan played an exceptional long pass forward to all-time top scorer Liam Thomas who had only just come off the substitutes’ bench – he slipped effortlessly past his marker on the corner of the penalty area and then dispatched a rasping drive that Williamson blocked on the goal-line. Bull, ever-alert to a scoring opportunity, pounced on the loose ball and from a very tight angle fired it across the face of the goal but saw it fly just beyond the far post.
Belatedly the Reds began again to compete more purposefully, launching a series of attacks led by former Carmarthen striker Mark Jones. After 78 minutes Jones slipped neatly past both Walters and Dave Vincent on the edge of the penalty area then released a promising 15 yard drive that flew beyond Windsor’s reach but struck the foot of the post – the rebound went straight to Cameron Harris who instantly fired an angled shot that slid just beyond the far post.
The hosts continued to search for a late goal and on 87 minutes Jones played the ball across the edge of the penalty area only to see Harris send his sharp volley narrowly too high.
Yet the Old Gold were still very much searching for further goals and in the 89th minute Morgan, from well within his own half, produced an excellent through-ball that set Thomas sprinting towards the Reds’ penalty area before then dispatching a 25 yard strike that flew beyond Williamson’s reach but, sadly, marginally wide of the goal.
However the final action of the match was at the other end of the pitch – on 91 minutes Harris won the ball off Vincent on the edge of the penalty area then struck a fierce drive that Windsor, with a marvellous flying save, turned around the post.
Carmarthen have been drawn to face old rivals Aberystwyth in the Quarter-Final match which will be played at Richmond Park on a date yet to be arranged. Further success there would leave Town just one step away from reaching the League Cup Final for the fifth time in the Club’s history.
Tom Windsor; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman (sub Lewis Rocke 84); Jordan Knott (sub Cairan Smith 75); Declan Carroll; Ceri Morgan; Elliot Scotcher (sub Liam Thomas 61); Greg Walters; Josh Bull; Chris Jones;
Unused subs: Luke Bowen; Lewis Harling; Danny Thomas; Craig Hanford;
Cards: (Y) Lee Surman (14);
Goals: Josh Bull (42, 50);
Game 8 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Airbus UK v Carmarthen Town (28 September 2019)
Airbus UK (1) Carmarthen Town (0)
Carmarthen, after a generally disappointing opening to this season, went into this match following on from much improved performances against Cefn Druids and The New Saints – not surprisingly this gave the loyal group of Town supporters who had made the long trip to North Wales good reason to believe that against Airbus UK, the team at the bottom of the Cymru Premier League, goals and valuable points would be secured. How misguided they were!
From the start the game quickly developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair although there was no early prospect of any serious goalmouth action since both defences were dealing quite comfortably with the intermittent pressure. In addition, a fierce swirling wind made playing conditions unpredictable.
But, worryingly, Town’s progress was also often hampered by a familiar failing from earlier this season – surrendering possession to the opposition all too easily.
And on 21 minutes this led directly to the only goal of the match. Defender Jordan Vickers, with Airbus striker Andy Owens close-by, was near the corner of the penalty area moving towards his own goal and shielding the ball seemingly uncertain what to do with it – but Owens had no such uncertainty as he easily stole the ball from Vickers and promptly fired it past goalkeeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.
The earlier pattern of the game straightaway resumed and as the play shifted quickly from end to end a number of half-decent scoring chances for both teams were created and squandered thus providing graphic evidence why these Clubs have remained at or close to the basement of the CPL this season.
Yet eventually, in the closing stages of the first-half, the Old Gold actually enjoyed a spell of relative dominance. In the 35th minute Greg Walters, who had only been on the field a few minutes as a substitute for the injured Elliot Scotcher, played the ball across to Jordan Knott who moved forward towards the penalty area then dispatched a fierce 25 yard drive that flew beyond the reach of goalkeeper Lewis Hall but went narrowly over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, Chris Jones fired a corner-kick into the crowded penalty area and although the ball was cleared it went straight to Knott who produced a long-range strike that flew marginally too high,
And on 45 minutes the adventurous defender slid a fine pass through to Luke Bowen who moved into the penalty area and swerved neatly past a defender but from a wide position he fired the ball into the side netting.
Soon after the interval Owens and Alex Darlington, with a neat interchange of passes deep inside the Old Gold half, forged an early chance that finished with the tall striker, on the edge of the penalty area, driving a rasping shot which Idzi carefully watched slide just beyond the post.
Then on 51 minutes Jones, from the left touchline, sent an inviting free-kick into the packed goalmouth where Bowen planted a strong close-range header into the back of the net only for the referee to curtail Town’s celebrations by disallowing the “goal” for an infringement on the ‘keeper.
After 64 minutes the Wingmakers went close to extending their lead when Vickers’ weak attempt to clear the ball allowed Ryan Edwards to take possession – his swift pass set Darlington sprinting into the penalty area before returning the ball to Edwards who struck a promising shot that Walters, with an exceptional intervention, managed to divert narrowly outside the post.
However the Old Gold were still pressing forward in their increasingly desperate search for an equaliser yet even with the additional pace and mobility of substitute Josh Bull they continued to struggle against the resolute Airbus defence.
But, eventually, in the 78th minute they scored that elusive equaliser – or so it seemed. Knott, on the left flank, sent a long cross-field pass to the edge of the penalty area to reach Bull who neatly slid the ball towards the goalmouth where Bowen, racing in, struck a crisp angled drive past Hall and into the back of the net. However, once again the match officials intervened to spoil the visitors’ moment of success by ruling that Bowen had been off-side.
Carmarthen, undaunted, commendably persevered and deep into added time they had a final scoring opportunity when Bowen ambitiously attempted a long-range free-kick that flew some distance off-target. That just about summed up a fairly miserable match that Town supporters had endured – and they still had a 3½ hour return journey home ahead of them!
The next fixture for the Old Gold is at Richmond Park on Saturday October 5th (k/o 2.30pm) when the visitors are Connah’s Quay.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Chris Jones (sub Josh Bull 69); Ceri Morgan; Elliot Scotcher (sub Greg Walters 31); Lewis Harling; Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;
Unused subs: Tom Windsor (GK); Lewis Rocke; Cai Smith;
Cards: (Y) Danny Thomas (71);
Game 9 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Connah’s Quay (5 October 2019)
Carmarthen Town (1) Connah’s Quay (2)
After this narrow defeat Carmarthen are still waiting for their first win of the Cymru Premier League season. However against a strong Connah’s Quay side they produced a refreshingly spirited performance that lacked essentially just one key ingredient – more consistent clinical finishing. And that was despite Manager Danny Thomas starting with three recognised strikers.
In the opening stages the play was quite evenly-balanced and largely confined to the midfield – while the Nomads twice posed a threat with crosses into the Old Gold penalty area, on each occasion the home defenders comfortably protected their goal.
However in the 11th minute the match came to life when lively midfielder Greg Walters, from the centre-circle, threaded a sublime pass through to Liam Thomas who held off the challenge of defender George Horan as he sprinted into the penalty area and from 12 yards confidently drove the ball past ‘keeper Lewis Brass and into the back of the net.
But shortly afterwards Town suffered a significant setback when key central defender Dave Vincent sustained an apparently serious facial injury after an aerial challenge – following lengthy treatment he was substituted by midfielder Declan Carroll with Walters moving into a reorganised back-four.
And soon, on 25 minutes, the Nomads capitalised on that defensive disruption when Danny Holmes, from near the right touchline, delivered a free-kick into the crowded penalty area which the Old Gold defence failed to clear allowing Michael Bakare to fire the loose ball beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the corner of the net.
While the visitors continued to look a threat with their rapid breaks from the midfield, particularly when Bakare utilised his pace and movement to good effect, Carmarthen too were eagerly swarming upfield at every opportunity where their triple spearhead of Luke Bowen, Thomas and newcomer Josh Bull kept the Nomads’ defenders fully engaged.
And after 22 minutes they went close to restoring their lead when Carroll’s prodigious throw into the packed penalty area was cleared but only as far as Walters – he then struck a 20 yard shot that was deflected towards Bull but his instant close-range effort was blocked by Brass on the goal-line.
Yet in the 34th minute it seemed certain that the Old Gold would regain the lead. Ceri Morgan, from the half-way line, sent a fine pass forward which Bowen chased to the edge of the penalty area – as Brass advanced from his goal the experienced striker neatly chipped the ball over the stranded ‘keeper and towards the invitingly empty net only to see Callum Morris race back to make a remarkable timely intervention and clear the ball safely away.
And Carmarthen continued this welcome spell of pressure when moments later Carroll lifted a long free-kick into the crowded penalty area where Lee Surman got ahead of his marker and planted a looping header narrowly over the bar.
After the interval the Nomads started brightly – on 48 minutes Owen fired a long free-kick into the packed penalty area to find George Horan who headed the ball on towards the goalmouth where Michael Wilde connected with a close-range shot that Idzi was smartly down to claim.
And the visitors continued to increase pressure on the Town defence which, while initially coping well, eventually conceded a second goal in the 64th minute – Nathan Woolfe moved in from the right touchline then fired a high cross into the penalty area where, worryingly, Bakare found the time and space to control the ball on the edge of the goal area before driving it crisply past Idzi and into the corner of the net.
Stung by that setback the Old Gold began to look more competitive again although decent scoring opportunities, against a typically formidable Connah's Quay defence, were very limited. However after 77 minutes Carroll’s smart pass set Lewis Harling racing along the right flank before he played the ball invitingly across the edge of the goal area where Bull, arriving at speed ahead of any defenders, narrowly failed to connect for a straightforward tap-in chance.
And in the final few minutes Bull was presented with another opportunity but saw his smart close-range drive blocked in front of the goal by defender Callum Roberts.
So, after 9 CPL matches Carmarthen remain rooted at the bottom of the League table with just 3 points – the only team without a win so far. Yet all but one of those six defeats have been by only a single goal margin and even the 6-2 loss against TNS flattered the League Champions and certainly did not reflect the overall balance of play on that day – there is reason to hope!
Town’s next fixture is at Bala on Saturday 12th October (k/o 2.30pm).
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers (sub Cai Smith 78); Dave Vincent (sub Declan Carroll 20); Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Greg Walters; Ceri Morgan; Lewis Harling (sub Chris Jones 84); Josh Bull; Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;
Unused subs: Craig Hanford; Tom Windsor (GK); Lewis Rocke;
Goal: Liam Thomas (11);
Cards: (Y) Luke Bowen (31); Jordan Vickers (49); Lewis Harling (60); Greg Walters (65); Declan Carroll (68);
Game 10 JD Welsh Premier League
Match Report – Bala Town v Carmarthen Town (12 October 2019)
Bala Town (2) Carmarthen Town (1)
Carmarthen, as so often in this Cymru Premier League season so far, once more produced another very competitive performance against a strong top six club but eventually suffered a narrow defeat largely due to their failure to capitalise on several decent scoring chances.
As the opening stages of the match unfolded Bala progressively dominated the play, monopolising possession and launching a series of attacks that kept the Old Gold largely pinned back inside their own half. Yet their defensive back-line, well-marshalled by Lee Surman and Dave Vincent, initially coped well under that pressure while just ahead of them further valuable support was provided by combative midfielders Greg Walters and Ceri Morgan. As a result no serious scoring chances emerged and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never really tested.
However all that changed in the 13th minute when the Lakesiders took the lead following a moment of impressive approach play from Sean Smith – he received the ball from Kieran Smith just inside the penalty area then effortlessly swerved past Vincent and Morgan before sending the ball across to Louis Robles who from 15 yards struck a crisp shot that defeated Idzi and finished in the back of the net.
Stung by that setback, Town began to press forward with greater intensity seeking to exploit the pace and mobility of strikers Luke Bowen and Josh Bull. And on 26 minutes they levelled the scores when a fine pass from Chris Jones reached Bull near the corner flag – he produced some stunning footwork that bewildered defender Smith and then sprinted into the penalty area before dispatching a rasping angled drive that flew past ‘keeper Ashley Morris and into the far corner of the net.
The Old Gold maintained their renewed competitiveness in midfield and continued to probe the strong Bala defence but apart from having to make a couple of routine saves Morris was never put under serious pressure.
And then the balance of the match once more turned in the Lakesiders’ favour when in the 37th minute they regained the lead. Smith moved towards the half-way line then played the ball forward to Robles on the wide edge of the penalty area – he then delivered a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where experienced striker Chris Venables arrived, completely unhindered by any Town defender, and volleyed the ball past Idzi and into the net.
After the interval Carmarthen had an early chance to score when on 55 minutes Surman launched a huge free-kick into the packed penalty area only for a home defender to slice an attempted clearance just wide of the post – Chris Jones then fired the resultant corner-kick deep to the far side of the goalmouth where Surman directed his close-range header narrowly over the bar.
The end-to-end pattern of play continued when, after 65 minutes, Robles sent the ball forward to Henry Jones on the edge of the penalty area but his smart strike similarly flew too high.
Then on 74 minutes Morgan directed a long free-kick towards the penalty area where Bull neatly played the ball across to Bowen who instantly dispatched a smart volley that slid marginally wide of the near post.
[Note: That was Bull’s final contribution in this, notably, his first starting appearance for Carmarthen in a League match. Yet perhaps of greater significance is that the player he replaced, Liam Thomas, consequently failed to start a WPL match for the first time since November 13th 2016 at Cefn Druids (due to suspension) - since then he has started every one of Town’s 90 League matches which is testimony to his form, fitness and discipline over the past 3 years. And there is no likelihood of this record being eclipsed in the very near future since of the current playing squad Lee Surman now holds this record with 31 consecutive starting appearances since October 20th 2018.]
Bala soon responded when in the 79th minute Henry Jones’ corner-kick into the packed goalmouth was met by Venables who produced a subtle glancing header that Idzi, diving quickly down, claimed on the goal-line.
And then after 84 minutes Town’s experienced ‘keeper was called-on twice in quick succession as the hosts searched for another goal that would ensure victory. First, Robles burst into the penalty area and struck a close-range shot that Idzi spectacularly turned around the post with an excellent reflex save – then moments later Henry Jones sent another inviting cross into the penalty area where Robles produced a promising 15 yard header that Idzi, again demonstrating impressive reactions, tipped over the bar.
Yet the Old Gold were equally anxious for a late goal that would earn them a valuable point. On 88 minutes Walters’ long free-kick found Chris Jones on the far side of the penalty area and he promptly lifted the ball back beyond the goalmouth where Jordan Vickers, from a seemingly good position, volleyed it over the bar.
Then as the match went into added time Town threatened again when from Knott’s huge throw-in the ball reached Morgan out wide in the penalty area – he instantly released a fierce angled volley but saw Morris drop smartly down to claim possession.
So, while this result (yet another single goal defeat) lifted Bala into third place in the CPL table, Carmarthen remain firmly rooted at the bottom – only small margins between these teams on the field, but huge consequences off it!
Town’s next fixture is against Aberystwyth on Friday 18th October (k/o 8.00pm) at Richmond Park – this match is to be televised live on Sgorio S4C.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Knott; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Cai Smith (sub Jordan Vickers 73); Greg Walters; Ceri Morgan; Lewis Harling; Chris Jones; Josh Bull (sub Liam Thomas 76); Luke Bowen;
Unused subs: Jay Woodford; Craig Hanford; Tom Windsor (GK);
Goal: Josh Bull (26);
Cards: (Y) Lewis Harling (22); Greg Walters (59);