CARMARTHEN, after a spirited performance against a lively Barry side, suffered just a narrow defeat thanks to some resolute defending and a late goal from substitute Liam Griffiths – but they were left to speculate on how much better the result could have been if they had not been forced to play the great majority of the match with only ten men once Lee Surman was sent off early in the first-half.
Yet the visitors went close to making a sensational start in the opening 90 seconds – a rapid attack along the left flank finished with the ball being played forward to Drew Fahiya just inside the penalty area and he set it up for Macauley Southam who saw his fierce drive resisted by ‘keeper Lee Idzi with a stunning reflex save.
While Town were enjoying their fair share of possession in this opening spell, they seemed unable to make any real impression on the United defence. Their best chance arose on 7 minutes when after a Kieran Lewis free-kick had been blocked by a defender, the ball was claimed by Kostya Georgievsky who quickly returned it to Lewis – he went forward to the by-line then fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth but no-one was able to capitalise on this simple tap-in chance.
Then in the 16th minute the Old Gold’s prospects were dealt a severe blow. A long ball was played out of the Barry half and was chased by Surman and Kayne McLaggon – as they tussled for possession just outside the penalty area United’s top goalscorer was pulled to the ground and, inevitably, Town’s captain and key defender was shown the red card.
The visitors very quickly began to capitalise on their numerical advantage, monopolising possession and putting the hastily reorganised home defence under increasing pressure. But a combination of stubborn Carmarthen resistance and some wasteful Barry finishing ensured that initially the match remained goal-less.
However after 33 minutes the visitors at last made the anticipated breakthrough with an impressive individual goal. Jordan Cotterill fired a 30 yard pass towards the penalty area which Southam eagerly pursued – he took the ball past Idzi, who had raced out of his goal, and then from the tightest of angles cleverly slid it into the unguarded net.
While Barry continued to hold the initiative, the Old Gold enthusiastically responded with some frequent counter-attacking orchestrated, principally, by the vision and industry of midfielders Lewis, Liam Walsh and Ceri Morgan – but regrettably all too often there was no end product as the strong United defenders exerted firm control over Town’s strike-force. The extent to which any potential goal threat arose was the delivery of a number of crosses into the goalmouth which simply provided ‘keeper Mike Lewis with some comfortable catching practice.
After the interval the match proceeded in a similar largely uneventful fashion with the Old Gold defending with spirit and determination at one end of the pitch to deny the visitors any decent scoring chances while, at the other, all too often when going forward they simply seemed to run out of ideas as they failed to test Lewis in any meaningful way.
Yet at last, on 63 minutes Barry increased their lead through some inventive work from McLaggon. The lively striker latched on to a fine pass from Southam then raced into the penalty area before slipping neatly past Luke Cummings near to the by-line and finishing clinically with a smart angled drive that flew into the net helped, it seemed, by a deflection off Dan Sheehan as he attempted to clear the ball.
With the almost immediate introduction of substitute Liam Griffiths to add height and muscle to their strike-force, Carmarthen belatedly managed to put some welcome pressure on the United defence. And in the 84th minute they went close to reducing the deficit – having won a rare corner-kick, Kyle Bassett fired the ball into the crowded penalty area and it eventually reached Lewis who saw his rasping 20 yard strike headed off the goal-line by defender Chris Hugh.
But their disappointment was short-lived as moments later Lewis, from near the left touchline, sent an inviting free-kick deep into the packed goalmouth where Griffiths rose highest and planted his close-range header into the corner of the net.
Spurred by that success the Old Gold poured forward in the closing minutes in the hope of snatching a hitherto unexpected equaliser – however the visitors’ defence remained firm and disciplined to deny any further scoring opportunities and secure their victory.
With all the teams just above them in the League table having won matches in recent weeks, Carmarthen’s prospects of improving on their current basement place by the end of the first-phase programme are becoming increasingly remote.
And ahead of them now, over the course of ten days during the festive season, Town will play Bangor City at Richmond Park on Saturday December 23rd (k/o 2.30pm), Aberystwyth at Richmond Park on Boxing Day (k/o 2.30pm) and Aberystwyth away on New Year’s Day (k/o 2.30pm). A handful of points from that challenging schedule would be very welcome.
Team: Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Dan Sheehan; Liam Walsh; Kieran Lewis; Ceri Morgan; Kyle Bassett; Liam Thomas; Kostya Georgievsky (sub Liam Griffiths 68).
Unused subs: Craig Hanford; Tyler Brock; Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers.
Cards: (R) Lee Surman (16) (Y) Kyle Bassett (40); Ceri Morgan (54); Kostya Georgievsky (55).
Goal: Liam Griffiths (85);