Our Final Match Report of this season. Many Thanks to John Collyer for his commitment throughout the season at Home and Away games. John is also head of our Licensing application, from which we once again recieved our Domestic and Uefa Licence for the forthcoming 2018/19 Season. This enables us to compete in the Welsh Premier League.
Thank you also to Peter Hughes Griffiths who translates the report into Welsh for us.
Match Report – Barry Town United v Carmarthen Town (27 April 2018)
Barry Town United (1) Carmarthen Town (0)
After the deep disappointment of last week’s result at Aberystwyth which seemed to have condemned Carmarthen to life in the Welsh League next season, the subsequent welcome news from the FAW, barely 24 hours before this match, confirming Town’s reprieve from relegation certainly lifted the mood of the faithful group of supporters who had travelled to Barry – and, seemingly, it also had a positive effect on the players who during several spells produced some of their best football this season.
The opening stages of this match were fairly quiet and uneventful – although the hosts were enjoying the greater share of possession they were unable to test the Old Gold defence in any noticeable way. Meanwhile the visitors were quick to burst forward on the counter-attack, always looking to exploit the pace and movement of strikers Liam Thomas and Luke Bowen.
And it was Town who managed the first clear scoring chance in the 8thminute – Kieran Lewis fired a corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where Dave Vincent rose high above defenders to connect with a smart, close-range header only to see it blocked on the goal-line before being cleared safely away.
But United were quick to respond when on 10 minutes Chris Hugh struck a speculative long-range drive that ‘keeper Lee Idzi safely resisted, diving swiftly down to beat the ball away. Then moments later Macauley Southam-Hales, from the right-wing, sent an inviting cross into the penalty area where Kayne McLaggon produced a neat sweeping shot that flew narrowly over the bar.
Increasingly the play was becoming more evenly balanced – the Old Gold were attacking with greater frequency and penetration and after 21 minutes they again went close to taking the lead. Bowen embarked on a typically powerful run before being brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Lewis stepped forward and curled a delightful free-kick around the defensive ‘wall’ but, agonisingly, saw the ball crash against the top corner of the goal before it bounced safely away.
That disappointment spurred Town into even greater effort as the game developed into an entertaining end-to-end affair. Increasingly they were prepared to make measured counter-attacking progress from out of defence with smart, swift passing moves that carved through the opposition midfield – the Old Gold were, refreshingly, playing with an unfamiliar freedom that perhaps, with their WPL status already safeguarded, stemmed from the absence now of any absolute need to gather points.
And in the 34thminute they opened up the home defence with a series of slick passes that finished with Aidan O’Kelly sliding a fine pass through to Bowen on the edge of the penalty area – he moved forward to the by-line then drove the ball invitingly into the goalmouth but Liam Thomas, closing in, was outnumbered by defenders and the danger was cleared,
After the interval United took the initiative and following a spell of pressure they went ahead on 56 minutes. A long pass down the right flank was pursued by Southam-Hales who drove the ball deep into the goalmouth, reaching McLaggon beyond the far post – he stabbed it back towards the goal where Jonathan Hood reacted quickly to fire it home from close-range.
Town responded well to that setback and on 63 minutes they went close to forcing an equaliser – Clayton Green produced a surging run from the centre-circle before playing the ball across to Ceri Morgan who then released a stunning 25 yard drive that drew a smart full-length save from ‘keeper Mike Lewis.
Moments later Jordan Knott, from the half-way line, sent the ball upfield to find Thomas on the edge of the penalty area – he headed it back to Kieran Lewis who dispatched a fierce 25 yard volley that flew just marginally wide of the post.
However during the later stages, with Carmarthen by now clearly not performing with such fluency as earlier, the home side were more of a threat, especially given their ability to refresh their team by introducing experienced players off a fully-staffed substitutes bench – by contrast, the Old Gold were afforded no such luxury due to injuries and other absences.
Yet the only further notable goalmouth excitement arose after 77 minutes when the lively McLaggon raced into the penalty area before striking a crisp angled shot that Idzi, with an impressive reflex save, parried – then, with the ball dangerously close to the goal-line, Craig Hanford made a timely intervention to clear the danger and deny Southam-Hales a simple tap-in chance.
From thereon the match, and Town’s season, drifted uneventfully to a close.
So, Carmarthen’s season ended in the way it began, goal-less and defeated. But what happened in between left their loyal supporters at various times despondent, anxious, frustrated, content, entertained or even elated (occasionally, all during the same match!).
Town’s initial poor form could not have been anticipated – the nucleus of the previous season’s squad, which had comfortably finished in the WPL top six and contested the UEFA qualifying play-offs, remained in place – only Dwayne Bailey and Declan Carroll had left.
Also, after losing their four opening matches they travelled to Bala, consistently a top four side in recent seasons, and convincingly defeated them 4-0 to offer fans the hope of a turnaround in form – but that proved to be a false hope. Another fourteen matches would follow before a second win was achieved by which time the Old Gold were firmly rooted at the bottom of the League table.
However the festive period double victories over Aberystwyth heralded an improvement in Town’s fortunes which would carry on through the second-phase programme – the signing of several new players during the January ‘transfer window’ provided a further boost, while the immediately subsequent changes in the management/coaching set-up were swiftly completed to ensure unhindered continuity for the playing squad.
The second-phase performances were refreshing, exciting and productive – and the prospect of avoiding relegation became increasingly realistic. Prestatyn, at one stage ten points ahead, were quickly overhauled and the gap up to tenth-placed Aberystwyth was gradually reduced – but the Seasiders were still taking points off other clubs while the Old Gold were running out of games and their fading chances evaporated with their failure to win at Park Avenue, the penultimate match of the season.
Yet, as on several occasions in previous seasons in relation to other clubs, the FAW Licensing Regulations have intervened to determine that Carmarthen Town, despite finishing in the relegation places, will participate in the WPL next season.
Team: Lee Idzi; Jordan Knott; Dave Vincent (Ryan Foschi sub 88); Lee Surman; Craig Hanford; Aidan O’Kelly; Kieran Lewis; Ceri Morgan; Clayton Green; Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Dan Sheehan; Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;
Cards: (Y) Clayton Green (40);