WHILE the final result was a huge disappointment, by comparison with most matches this season Carmarthen’s performance against big-spending Bala was refreshingly entertaining and at the end of 90 minutes only a wonder goal, just before half-time, separated these two teams.
After a brief, fairly uneventful opening spell the game sprang to life on 7 minutes when a slick exchange of passes between Liam Thomas and Kostya Georgievsky along the left touchline led to Ceri Morgan firing a deep cross to the far side of the goalmouth where Kieran Lewis arrived with perfect timing to stab a close-range shot that ‘keeper Ashley Morris was well-placed to gather.
From then on the game developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair although with both defences performing soundly, only a few serious scoring chances ensued. Notably, after 24 minutes Mike Hayes burst forward into the penalty area only to be denied a clear opportunity by Luke Cummings who, with an excellent recovery tackle, claimed the ball and cleared it to safety.
Then in the 30th minute the visitors once more went close with Jordan Evans firing a 25 yard free-kick that ‘keeper Lee Idzi smartly turned over the bar. And from the resultant corner-kick Stuart Jones, from right in front of goal, produced a diving header that clipped the top of the bar and went safely behind.
Having survived that spell of pressure, the Old Gold struck back and seized the attacking initiative. On 39 minutes Thomas, who was finding far more freedom to operate as a twin spearhead alongside Georgievsky than at any stage in recent matches, embarked on a surging run through the middle before playing the ball out to Kyle Bassett – from wide inside the penalty area he drove it across the face of the goal where Town’s top WPL goal-scorer, having continued his run, narrowly failed to connect for a simple tap-in opportunity as defenders closed in.
Moments later defender Jordan Knott raced forward from his own half then sent the ball through to Georgievsky who fired another dangerous low cross into the goalmouth only for defender Stuart Jones to clear the ball behind to deny Bassett, closing in, an easy chance.
Bassett drove the ensuing corner-kick into the crowded penalty area where Knott rose high above defenders but saw his close-range header slide just wide of the post.
Yet eventually, after that brief period of intense activity around the Bala goalmouth a goal at last arrived in the 44th minute – but, sadly, at the other end of the pitch. Glen Rule played the ball forward to Evans out wide on the left flank and he dispatched a stunning long-range drive that Idzi, diving at full-length, got his hand on but not strongly enough to keep the ball out of his net.
After the interval the earlier end-to-end pattern of play resumed although once more both defences were coping well under the pressure.
However on 62 minutes Chris Venables raced deep into the penalty area before driving the ball across the face of the goal where Ian Sheridan, at the far post, contrived to misdirect a decent scoring opportunity.
Town responded immediately with Dave Vincent firing a long pass upfield which sent Georgievsky sprinting beyond the last defender but, as Morris advanced out of his goal to challenge him, the speedy winger’s subtle attempt to chip the ball into the unguarded net went too high.
Then after 67 minutes Lewis, an influential figure in Town’s midfield throughout the match, threaded a fine pass through to Bassett who surged into the penalty area and struck a crisp angled shot that Morris turned past the post. Bassett’s corner-kick was headed clear by a defender but the ball was claimed by Lewis who slid it across to Ceri Morgan – he instantly released a fierce 20 yard drive that was blocked by Morris and the loose ball fell nicely for Vincent who saw his angled strike fly just marginally beyond the far post.
After that frantic 90 seconds of goalmouth action the play continued to flow from end-to-end without any further notable scoring opportunities emerging until well into added time when the Old Gold launched one final effort to capture the goal and the point which their commitment, passion and work-rate unquestionably merited. Knott fired a huge free-kick into the packed penalty area to reach Lewis who chipped the ball across the goalmouth where substitute Liam Griffiths executed an overhead kick that sadly went narrowly over the bar.
Without doubt this was the most all-round competitive performance that Town have produced this season – it has to be hoped that this marks a turning point in their League programme and that forthcoming matches will provide the results that lift the Club away from the relegation places and into (at least) mid-table safety.
Carmarthen’s next fixture will provide a stern test however since they visit Cardiff Met, currently third in the League table, on Saturday 4th November (k/o 12:45pm) – the match is to be televised live on S4C.
Team: Lee Idzi, Luke Cummings, Dave Vincent, Lee Surman, Jordan Knott, Craig Hanford (Liam Griffiths 89), Kyle Bassett (Kyle Williams 83), Ceri Morgan, Kieran Lewis, Liam Thomas, Kostya Georgievsky.
Unused subs: Liam Walsh, Dan Sheehan, Danny Thomas.
Cards: (Y) Kieran Lewis (38), Kyle Bassett (56), Ceri Morgan (73).