AFTER the euphoria of last week’s stunning victory at Bala, Carmarthen fans were swiftly brought back to the harsh realities of life at the wrong end of the Welsh Premier League table as they witnessed this distinctly dismal performance against fellow strugglers Barry who, with a display of frequent fast open football, thoroughly deserved their success.
Yet the opening stages of this match were quiet and uneventful with neither side managing to test the opposition defence in any meaningful way. Then on 13 minutes the game suddenly burst into life – United defender Chris Hugh sent a long pass forward to Drew Fahiya who raced forward into the penalty area then fired the ball across the face of the goal and beyond the reach of ‘keeper Stephen Hall only for Kayne McLaggon to narrowly miss a simple conversion at the far post.
However, moments later they took the lead with a similarly fast raid down the opposite flank. Fahiya collected a long pass from Tony Greening then sent an inviting low cross into the goalmouth which Hall and several defenders failed to deal with thereby allowing McLaggon, from just 6 yards, to stab the ball home.
Thankfully, Town’s response was immediate and productive. In the 17th minute Jordan Knott, from wide in the penalty area, headed the ball into the packed goalmouth where Kyle Williams saw his close-range effort blocked by ‘keeper Mike Lewis – but Knott swiftly pounced on the rebound and from a sharp angle he crisply drove the loose ball past Lewis and into the back of the net.
Those goals heralded a period of end-to-end play although few decent scoring chances emerged. But Barry were looking far more incisive as their strikers, with their lightning pace and movement, scythed through the beleaguered Old Gold defence time and again – and on 35 minutes, unsurprisingly, they went ahead. Macauley Southam, on the left flank, made a determined run deep into the penalty area then from the by-line fired a searching cross towards the goalmouth where McLaggon, once more unhindered by Hall or any defender, arrived with perfect timing to head the ball into the invitingly open goal.
While in defence the visitors continually seemed stretched in the face of Barry’s frequent attacks, they did manage a few promising scoring opportunities of their own – in the 39th minute Williams, on the right touchline, sent a cross-field pass deep to the far side of the pitch where Georgievsky played the ball across to Liam Thomas on the edge of the penalty area but Town’s top scorer was narrowly off-target with his rasping strike.
After the interval the home side forged an early chance on 48 minutes with McLaggon again involved when he burst free through the middle and into the penalty area but before he could manage a shot Hall raced from his goal and dived bravely down to claim the ball at the striker’s feet.
Straightaway the Old Gold responded when Thomas slid a fine pass through to Georgievsky who raced into the penalty area then released a fierce 15 yard volley that Lewis resisted with a smart full-length save. Yet the hosts once again went close after 53 minutes when Southam, from the left touchline, sent a free-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Luke Cooper directed his downward header just wide the post.
Then moments later at the other end of the pitch Lewis’ corner-kick reached Dave Vincent who headed the ball across to Georgievsky beyond the far post – he neatly played the ball back to Knott who, from the corner of the penalty area, struck a promising shot that flew narrowly over the bar.
Although Town had managed a spell of decent approach play, sadly all too often this was spoilt by a poor ‘final pass’ or unconvincing finishing. And at the other end of the pitch their defence, surprisingly, was similarly culpable on several occasions – this now well-established unit has so often in past matches been Carmarthen’s saviour, if not always from defeat then certainly from embarrassment. Yet on this occasion individual and collective errors arose that allowed the Barry strike-force an unmerited degree of freedom.
And this failing was instrumental in the build-up to United’s third goal in the 71st minute. Poor defending near to the right touchline allowed McLaggon to gain possession from Lewis’ long clearance and race forward into the penalty area – he then fired the ball towards the goalmouth where even worse defending gifted Callum Sainty the time and space to take two attempts at close-range, eventually enabling him to scramble the ball over the goal-line.
After that, the game drifted to an inevitable conclusion with the home side comfortably capturing three valuable points which puts them amongst the group of mid-table clubs in the WPL, while the Old Gold remain just one place off the foot of the table having, in the process, seen all the optimism around the Club that was generated after the Bala victory dramatically evaporate.
However, thankfully Town’s gruelling six-match spell of away matches since the opening day of the League season is now completed and they can now look forward to playing the majority of their remaining first-phase fixtures on their new 3G pitch at Richmond Park although the first visitors, League champions The New Saints, will provide stern opposition in the forthcoming match on Saturday September 30th k/o 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, on Monday 25th September (k/o 7.30pm) Carmarthen play on the new 3G surface for the first time in a friendly match against Cwmamman United.
Team: Stephen Hall, Dan Sheehan, Dave Vincent, Lee Surman, Jordan Knott, Craig Hanford (Liam Griffiths 73), Kieran Lewis, Lewis Harling, Kyle Williams (Luke Cummings 67), Liam Thomas, Kostya Georgievsky (Tyler Brock 82).
Unused subs: Lee Idzi, Danny Thomas.
Cards: (Y) Dave Vincent (48), Lee Surman (53), Luke Cummings (90).
Goal: Jordan Knott (17).