WPL Matchday 13
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Caernarfon (3 November 2018)
Carmarthen Town (4) Caernarfon (3)
After a series of disappointing results Carmarthen, refreshingly, produced an exciting performance laced with four stunning goals to justifiably secure their first victory in eight matches since early September against a spirited Caernarfon side that played their full part in this thrilling non-stop, end-to-end contest.
In the early stages the pattern of play set the tone for the rest of the match with both sides eagerly counter-attacking at every opportunity – but initially, with the defences coping well with the intermittent pressure, no serious scoring opportunities emerged.
However in the 10thminute the visitors took the lead, though not from open play. Nathan Craig struck a fierce 25 yard free-kick around the ‘defensive wall’ and although ‘keeper Lee Idzi was down quickly to block the ball, he uncharacteristically failed to gather it cleanly allowing it to bounce into the net.
Town responded well to that setback and went close to snatching an early equaliser on 14 minutes in similar fashion – from just outside the penalty area Declan Carroll dispatched a rasping free-kick that left ‘keeper Alex Ramsay well-beaten but the ball crashed against the underside of the bar then bounced safely away.
Moments later Mael Davies directed another free-kick into the crowded penalty area and while that was cleared, the ball landed nicely for Greg Walters who instantly fired a crisp 15 yard volley that flew just narrowly too high.
Yet this spell of pressure was eventually rewarded in the 17thminute when Davies, from the left-wing, delivered a searching free-kick deep into the penalty area where Lee Surman, beyond the far post, hooked the ball back towards the packed goalmouth and saw Liam Thomas plant a smart close-range header into the roof of the net.
The pace of the match soon increased with both teams counter-attacking briskly from deep positions – and on 20 minutes Caernarfon went close to restoring their lead when Craig sent a left-wing cross into the goalmouth to find Darren Thomas who struck a close-range shot that Idzi, atoning for his earlier costly error, resisted with an astonishing reflex save.
Then after 33 minutes Craig again fired the ball into the penalty area where Jamie Breese hit a crisp angled drive across the face of the goal but marginally beyond the far post.
Yet the Old Gold were still stretching the visitors’ defence with frequent rapid breaks spearheaded by Thomas, Webbe and Luke Bowen and in first-half added time they snatched a late goal. Carroll launched a huge throw-in that reached Thomas inside the crowded goalmouth – Town’s all-time top scorer turned sharply to evade his marker then from close range drilled the ball past Ramsay and into the corner of the net.
After the interval Carmarthen took the early initiative forcing the visitors back on defence with a spell of incisive attacking football. And they soon stretched their lead when in the 54thminute Webbe embarked on a surging run through the centre to reach the edge of the penalty area before attempting a pass which was blocked by a defender – but the ball rebounded straight to Carroll who immediately returned it with a stunning 20 yard volley that flew beyond Ramsay’s reach and into the top corner of the net.
Immediately Caernarfon fought back and the earlier pattern of fast-paced, end-to-end football once more emerged. And on 65 minutes they went close to reducing the deficit when after some good approach play Craig, from just outside the penalty area, dispatched a smart shot that Idzi turned aside with a flying full-length save.
But shortly afterwards they were successful when following a goalmouth scramble the referee, to the surprise and dismay of Old Gold defenders, awarded the visitors a penalty after Caernarfon’s Rhys Roberts had fallen to the ground under Bowen’s mild challenge – Craig stepped forward and comfortably converted the spot-kick.
Straightaway Town were forced back to defend in depth as the visitors pressed forward in search of an equaliser but they were still able to launch several lively counter-attacks – and soon, in the 73rdminute, they regained their two-goal advantage.
Davies, from the centre-circle, fired a dangerous free-kick into the packed penalty area where Dave Vincent’s subtle header set Bowen free and from close range he confidently slotted the ball past Ramsay and into the back of the net.
Immediately the Old Gold, through substitutions, reorganised their formation to bolster their defence at the cost of weakening their counter-attacking options which had hitherto proved so successful.
Yet despite that change, Caernarfon managed to reduce the deficit on 88 minutes when they were awarded a second penalty after an infringement inside the packed goalmouth. Again Craig converted to complete a remarkable hat-trick for the defender, none being from open play.
The visitors, unsurprisingly, poured forward in the closing stages in search of an equaliser while Carmarthen were pinned back in determined defence of their goal – a task made even more difficult by the referee when he indicated there would be five minutes of additional time!
But they survived to secure a valuable, and overall well-deserved, three points which lift them out of the Welsh Premier League relegation zone. And since Town’s next two fixtures are against the teams now directly above and below them in the League table, there is every prospect of further points that would elevate them to an even healthier position.
Next Saturday (10thNovember k/o 2.30pm) Cefn Druids visit Richmond Park when the Old Gold will be looking to avenge the four-goal thrashing they suffered at The Rock in September.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers (sub Ceri Morgan 46); Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Mael Davies; Declan Carroll; Greg Walters; Liam Thomas (sub Lewis Baldwin 89); Luke Bowen; Tyrrell Webbe (sub Craig Hanford 75);
Unused Subs: Sean Hanbury; Jay Woodford;
Goals: Liam Thomas (17, 45+1); Declan Carroll (54); Luke Bowen (73);
Cards: (Y) Mael Davies (60); Ceri Morgan (85); Greg Walters (85); Lee Idzi (90); Lewis Baldwin (90+4);
WPL Matchday 12
Match Report – Cardiff Met v Carmarthen Town (28 October 2018)
Cardiff Met (1) Carmarthen Town (1)
Carmarthen avoided defeat in an away match for the first time this season with a disciplined and determined performance against Cardiff Met – a result that fairly reflected the evenly-balanced pattern of the game throughout most of the match.
In the early stages the play switched quickly from end-to-end but, with both defences looking secure, no scoring chances emerged. The Old Gold, for the first time this season, fielded their most accomplished back-four and, under Lee Surman’s direction, they comfortably contained the lively Met forwards and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never tested.
Yet on 15 minutes the home side should have taken the lead – after a quick break forward along the right flank Dylan Rees sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth only to see Will Evans, from a good position, wastefully send his close-range header wide of the goal.
During this initial spell Carmarthen were making no tangible impression on the well-drilled Met defence. With a strike-force comprising Tyrrell Webbe and Jordan Vickers, both of whom were playing as full-backs in the last match against Bala, there was a noticeable lack of goal-poaching experience spearheading Town’s attacks which Luke Bowen (suspended) and all-time top goal-scorer Liam Thomas (deployed in midfield in this match) normally provide.
However with Mael Davies and Declan Carroll prominent in midfeld the Old Gold were not short of creativity when going forward and in the 18thminute they opened the scoring after their first serious attacking threat. Davies made a strong run into the penalty area but was brought down by Kyle McCarthy – Liam Thomas stepped forward and confidently drove the spot-kick into the corner of the net leaving ‘keeper Alex Lang well beaten.
The first-half continued in that same fashion with the Carmarthen defence capably resisting the hosts’ persistent probing and they were well supported by Idzi who, with his customary safe and assured handling, dealt comfortably with a number of crosses.
After the interval Cardiff again took the initiative and launched a series of penetrating attacks but they were still unable to make any meaningful progress as the Old Gold continued their well-organised and highly-effective defending inside and around their own penalty area, often leaving only Webbe as a lone striker upfield.
However gradually the Met were building pressure and, with the play now largely concentrated deep inside the visitors’ half, they were managing to get even more crosses into an increasingly congested goalmouth – ‘keeper Lee Idzi was busier than at any earlier stage.
Yet Town, with some well-organised and occasionally desperate defending in depth, continued to successfully protect their fragile lead – but only until the 72ndminute when the hosts snatched an equaliser with a well-crafted goal. Rees from the right-wing sent a searching cross into the penalty area where Chris Baker skilfully chested the ball down for Eliot Evans who, finding space amongst the crowd of defenders, hit a stunning 15 yard volley past Idzi and into the net.
Spurred by that success the Met continued to press forward in search of a late winning goal but, despite a scare on 90 minutes when Evans was again presented with a clear scoring opportunity well inside the penalty area only to fire the ball just over the bar, the Old Gold survived to deservedly finish on level terms.
Given their poor away form so far this season, Town might reasonably be satisfied with this result but if they are to climb away from the foot of the WPL table any time soon they must set their sights on winning matches because if that does not happen they will be facing the worrying prospect of a repeat of the struggles that blighted them last season.
Carmarthen’s next match is on Saturday 3rdNovember (k/o 2.30pm) when they entertain Caernarfon Town at Richmond Park.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings (sub Craig Hanford 72); Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Declan Carroll; Mael Davies; Greg Walters; Liam Thomas; Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 90); Tyrrell Webbe;
Goal: Liam Thomas (18 pen);
Cards: (Y) Declan Carroll (54); Jordan Knott (88); Jordan Vickers (90);
WPL Matchday 11 - Bala Town
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Bala (20 October 2018)
Carmarthen Town (1) Bala (2)
Carmarthen concluded a gruelling run of four fixtures against the current top four teams in the Welsh Premier League with, almost predictably, yet another defeat – and while the score-line replicated the narrow defeat which they suffered in this season’s exciting opening fixture at Bala, sadly Town’s performance here was a distinct contrast.
Even before the start they were disadvantaged by the absence of key players Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Luke Cummings, although better news was return after injury of current top scorer Luke Bowen.
And as the opening stages of the match unfolded Bala progressively dominated the play, monopolising possession and launching a series of attacks that kept the hosts largely pinned back deep inside their own half – without the combative presence of Morgan and Walters in particular, Town’s midfield struggled to provide an effective robust shield ahead of the defensive back-line. Yet the back four, well-marshalled by Dave Vincent, initially coped well while behind them goalkeeper Lee Idzi again demonstrated his customary safe and assured handling whenever necessary.
It was not until the 6thminute that the visitors managed their first serious scoring chance when Steven Tames threaded the ball across to Henry Jones near the corner of the penalty area and he struck a fierce drive that Idzi resisted with a smart full-length save.
Bala continued their relentless pressure on the home goal, but once more they were frustrated by some further determined defensive work – and on several occasions poor finishing spoiled their good approach play. Yet, almost inevitably, they at last went ahead when on 17 minutes Ian Sheridan, on the right flank, fired a dangerous cross towards the far post where Tames leapt high above defenders and planted a firm header past Idzi and into the roof of the net.
Until then the Old Gold as an attacking force were almost non-existent, being barely able to get the ball beyond the half-way line in any meaningful way – but, refreshingly, that goal seemed to galvanise them into far more positive action with several spirited counter-attacks that, at last, gave the visitors’ some serious defensive work to do.
After 27 minutes Bowen embarked on a powerful run from the centre-circle before sending a neat pass across to Mael Davies – he instantly slid the ball forward to Tyrrell Webbe who drove a searching cross into the goalmouth only to see defender Stuart Jones clear the danger just as Bowen and Liam Thomas were closing in for a simple scoring chance.
Then an even better opportunity was squandered on 34 minutes when Carroll’s prodigious throw-in reached deep into the goalmouth only for Thomas, normally so clinical in front of goal, to fire his close-range volley wastefully high over the bar.
The Old Gold were now looking increasingly likely to secure an equaliser and moments later at the end of another promising attack the ball reached Carroll on the edge of the penalty area – with a typically bewildering show of dazzling footwork he slipped easily past two defenders then dispatched a sharp 15 yard drive that flew just narrowly past the post.
But Bala were still a threat on the counter-attack and after 38 minutes they were close to increasing their lead. Sean Smith sent a routine left-wing cross into the goalmouth where Webbe, under no pressure, badly miscued his attempted clearance to present Chris Venables with a clear scoring chance – but while the one-time top WPL marksman’s close-range header went beyond Idzi’s reach, it also comfortably cleared the bar.
Then on 40 minutes Town were back on level terms. Webbe, atoning for his defensive lapse, finished a surging run along the left touchline with a searching cross towards the goalmouth where a poor clearance by Smith was pounced on by Carroll who from the edge of the penalty area released a rasping strike that hit the back of the net before ‘keeper Ashley Morris could react.
After the interval the game meandered along without any notable incident until the 67thminute when Bowen, having been shown a yellow card for a foul tackle only a few minutes beforehand, inexplicably decided to handle the ball which unsurprisingly led to a second yellow and, inevitably, he was sent off.
Immediately Bala took full advantage of their numerical superiority and resumed their earlier domination of the play, while the Old Gold were again forced largely back on defence with only Thomas up front effectively operating as a lone spearhead.
On 69 minutes the visitors went close to retaking the lead when Kieran Smith cut inside from the left-wing then from 20 yards dispatched a fine curling shot that Idzi, at full length, claimed at the far post. Moments later Town’s goal was again under threat when Nathan Burke sent a dangerous cross into the packed goalmouth where Jones saw his close-range header resisted by Idzi with a spectacular flying save.
As Bala’s attacking momentum intensified, the home defence became increasingly stretched and in the 74thminute it was opened up by a swift incisive move – Jordan Vickers was unable to prevent Venables’ lofted cross-field pass reaching Kieran Smith who was free to race forward and into the penalty area before turning neatly past Lewis Baldwin and sliding the ball beyond Idzi’s reach and into the corner of the net.
The Old Gold immediately responded by sending further players forward to boost their attacking prospects but while this strategy led to greater pressure on the visitors’ defence, only one significant scoring opportunity emerged. On 84 minutes Morris, attempting a headed clearance from the edge of the penalty area, sent the ball straight to Webbe who, from 20 yards, immediately returned it with a scorching angled volley that, agonisingly, flew just wide of the far post.
So, at this half-way point of the WPL first-phase programme Carmarthen occupy a relegation place – just as they did at this time last season. Then, however, they had a much worse points return. And, significantly, of the eleven remaining first-phase fixtures most (seven) are against current bottom-six teams. Hopefully a decent points return will be forthcoming.
Town’s next fixture is on Sunday 28thOctober (k/o 2.30pm) when they travel to Cardiff Met.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Lewis Baldwin (sub Lee Surman 77); Dave Vincent; Tyrrell Webbe; Mael Davies; Declan Carroll; Jordan Knott; Sean Hanbury (sub Craig Hanford 75); Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;
Cards: (R) Luke Bowen (2xY 60+67);
(Y) Lewis Baldwin (67); Dave Vincent (72); Jordan Vickers (83);
WPL Matchday 10
Carmarthen Town v Barry Town (13 October 2018)
WPL Matchday 9
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v The New Saints (6 October 2018)
Carmarthen Town (0) The New Saints (3)
Carmarthen produced a commendably determined and disciplined performance against Welsh Premier League Champions The New Saints but ultimately slumped to disappointing defeat due, largely, to uncharacteristic defensive errors that virtually gifted the visitors two goals in the second-half.
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 immediately became clear that Town were set up to counter that approach by defending deeply and packing the midfield with a five-man unit that had the energy and vision not only to provide a further defensive shield but also to launch promising counter-attacks whenever the opportunity arose – consequently Sean Hanbury, in the unfortunate absence due to injury of current top scorer Luke Bowen, was left to operate as the solitary nominal striker.
And this strategy worked – initially. In fact Carmarthen fashioned the first notable scoring chance when on 5 minutes Luke Cummings surged forward along the right flank before sending a cross into the Saints’ penalty area where a poor clearance was gathered by Greg Walters who from 25 yards struck a fierce drive that ‘keeper Paul Harrison was well placed to claim.
Yet the wave of attacks launched by TNS seemed relentless. A series of crosses were projected into the goalmouth, while on several occasions swift and direct passing moves reached deep inside the penalty area – but, through a combination of resolute Town defending and sometimes poor Saints finishing, there was rarely any serious scoring threat. And when called upon experienced ‘keeper Lee Idzi each time displayed his customary safe and assured handling in dealing with testing crosses and any other likely risk to his goal.
Accordingly, it was not until the 26thminute that the Saints looked likely to score. Jamie Mullan, a constant worry for the Town defence with his strong running and perceptive distribution, raced forward to the by-line then delivered an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Aeron Edwards directed a promising header beyond Idzi’s reach and towards the far corner of the goal – but Liam Thomas arrived to make a timely intervention and block the ball on the goal-line allowing the grateful ‘keeper to take possession.
Yet the Old Gold carved the next significant opening on 28 minutes. Ceri Morgan sent the ball forward to Thomas just outside the penalty area and he instantly played it neatly across to Walters – the lively midfielder turned sharply past Simon Spender then dispatched a rasping strike but saw Harrison deny him for the second time with a smart save.
The visitors continued to look the more likely to score but, as before, Town comfortably resisted their progress with some sound defending in and around their often highly-populated penalty area.
After the interval the same pattern of play soon emerged – but very quickly the outcome was completely different. In the 49thminute Jon Routledge fired a deep cross towards the far post where Tyrrell Webbe inexplicably headed the ball back into the goalmouth where Mullan reacted quickly to stab it home from close range.
This spurred the Saints into raising the pace and intensity of their attacking momentum and on 56 minutes they went close to extending their lead – a slick passing move from the half-way line led to Greg Draper bursting into the penalty area only to waste the opportunity by striking his 15 yard shot just wide of the post.
Then after 60 minutes Mullan hit a promising 20 yard free-kick that Idzi, with a spectacular flying save, turned aside. Moments later Mullan sent a dangerous right-wing cross into the goalmouth only for Draper to direct his close-range glancing header narrowly beyond the far post. And this spell of intense TNS activity finished with Tom Holland, from inside his own half, releasing a long through-ball that set Draper racing clear into the penalty area but the prolific striker failed again when he saw his angled volley turned aside by Idzi with another superb full-length save.
Carmarthen at last got some relief from that onslaught in the 70thminute when Webbe made a determined run along the left-wing before delivering a searching cross into the goalmouth where Hanbury managed a subtle close-range header that Harrison resisted with an impressive reflex save.
However any thoughts the Old Gold might have had about staging a recovery were soon extinguished following another poor defensive error. On 75 minutes Lewis Baldwin, some distance from his goal, produced a weak back-pass that Draper easily intercepted – in clear space he then raced forward and into the penalty area before fiercely driving the ball past Idzi and into the back of the net.
Two unforced errors, two goals, game over – as if TNS ever needed help in scoring!
A late flurry of substitutions for Town made little difference and, although some welcome attacking pressure ensued, they were unable to forge any decent scoring opportunities in the closing stages of the match despite the continuing tireless efforts of Mael Davies, Morgan and Walters who had been, throughout, the stand-out performers for the Old Gold.
Indeed, the only such action arose at the other end of the pitch. On 89 minutes Holland played a fine cross-field pass out to Spender on the right flank and he cut swiftly into the penalty area before releasing a powerful shot that crashed against the near post then rebounded safely away.
Then in the second minute of added time TNS finished the match with a third goal – Holland sent a sublime pass through to Kurtis Byrne who moved into the penalty area and dispatched an angled strike that flew beyond Idzi’s reach and into the far corner of the net.
With this defeat the Old Gold now, worryingly, slip into the relegation places at the base of the WPL, a location with which they became all too familiar during the whole of last season – it has to be hoped that this season their tenancy here will be much more brief.
Carmarthen’s next fixture is on Saturday 13thOctober (k/o 2.30pm) when they travel to Barry Town United who currently occupy a top-six position in the League.
Lee Idzi; Mael Davies; Lewis Baldwin; Dave Vincent; Tyrrell Webbe (sub Jordan Vickers 78); Luke Cummings (sub Declan Carroll 84); Ceri Morgan; Greg Walters; Jordan Knott; Liam Thomas; Sean Hanbury (sub Jay Woodford 78);
Unused subs: Craig Hanford; Danny Thomas;
Cards: (Y) Luke Cummings (25); Liam Thomas (33); Dave Vincent (51); Greg Walters (53); Jordan Knott (70);
WPL Matchday 8
Match Report – Connah’s Quay v Carmarthen Town (29 September 2018)
Connah’s Quay (3) Carmarthen Town (1)
Yet another trip to North Wales for the Old Gold this season has led to a disappointing performance and, eventually, conclusive defeat – and, worryingly, at no time during this match did it seem likely that, despite considerable effort and commitment, they would be able to avoid that outcome.
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 goalmouth activity, no real scoring chances emerged – crosses were frequently over-hit or comfortably cleared while the visitors’ back-four, performing as a unit for the first time in the League this season, was working well under pressure.
And directly ahead of them the now familiar midfield trio of Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Mael Davies eagerly provided a further valuable layer of defensive support whenever necessary.
Then at last, after 14 minutes, the hosts fashioned a decent scoring opportunity. From the half-way line Andrew Owens fired a lofted pass forward to Ryan Wignall who was in the clear – as Lee Idzi advanced out of his goal towards the edge of his penalty area to challenge him, the experienced striker attempted to chip the ball high into the net but the effort was poor allowing the ‘keeper to claim possession.
During this early spell Town’s attacking opportunities were confined to a few occasional, and ultimately unsuccessful, counter-attacks spearheaded by main strikers Liam Thomas and Luke Bowen. Their best chance arose on 23 minutes when Bowen swept forward with the ball then played it neatly through to Thomas who took it into the penalty area then dispatched a fierce 15 yard strike that ‘keeper Jon Rushton, diving smartly down, forced away – Walters, following up, narrowly failed to claim the loose ball.
After 27 minutes the hosts were again denied by some smart defending. Wignall sprinted down the left-wing, holding off Tyrrell Webbe, and from wide in the penalty area he fired the ball across the goalmouth where Dave Vincent, facing his own goal, skilfully managed to head it beyond the far post thereby denying Michael Wilde a simple tap-in opportunity.
But again the visitors soon went close to taking the lead. On 37 minutes Webbe, from close to the right touchline, lifted a searching free-kick into the packed penalty area where Thomas headed the ball across to Bowen who released a stunning angled drive that defeated Rushton but crashed against the post and rebounded safely away.
Yet in the final minute of the first-half Connah's Quay took the lead when Rushton fired a long clearance upfield and into the penalty area where Idzi’s weak attempt to punch the ball away went straight to James Owen who had the simple task of chipping it back over a crowd of players and into the net.
After the interval the hosts again took the initiative and, putting early pressure on the Town defence, they went close to extending their lead on 51 minutes. Rob Hughes sent a long cross-field pass to the corner of the penalty area which was met by Andrew Owens who struck a crisp volley that Idzi, with an impressive flying save, turned aside. And moments later Hughes delivered an inviting corner into the packed goalmouth where Jonny Spittle put his close-range glancing header just wide of the post.
The Nomads had dominated the opening stages of the second-half during which the Old Gold, defending deeply, had barely been able to venture beyond the half-way line. But all that changed in the 56thminute when Bowen, now mostly isolated as a lone spearhead, embarked on a determined run along the left flank before holding off his marker and reaching the corner of the penalty area then drilled an angled shot across the face of the goal – Davies chased the loose ball out towards the corner flag and smartly fired it back into the goalmouth where Thomas, reacting quicker than several defenders, smartly volleyed the ball into the roof of the net.
Stung by that setback the hosts quickly resumed their dominance of the play and they went close to re-taking the lead on 75 minutes when Hughes sent a corner-kick into the crowded penalty area and saw Danny Harrison’s smart header cleared off the goal-line by Walters’ well-judged intervention.
Yet after 82 minutes the Nomads got their reward. Substitute Nathan Woolfe fired a corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where the visitors somehow failed to clear the danger and allowed the ball to reach Owens who confidently planted his close-range header into the back of net.
Just moments later they were near to increasing their advantage when more slack defending gave Hughes the time and opportunity to turn sharply on the edge of the penalty area and strike a rasping volley that Idzi, producing a spectacular full-length save, turned over the bar.
Then Carmarthen went close to snatching a late equaliser in the 90thminute – Luke Cummings fired a dangerous free-kick into a congested penalty area and found Walters who directed a subtle glancing header towards the goal where Vincent, agonisingly, saw his close-range effort cleared off the line by a defender.
But then, deep into added time, the Nomads put the result beyond doubt with a third breakaway goal – from deep inside his own half Hughes surged upfield then played the ball across to Wignall who from just inside the penalty area dispatched a crisp drive that Idzi was powerless to resist.
Town’s away form is worrying – four straight defeats and fifteen goals conceded. And while admittedly three of those matches have been against strong sides that have held top four League places for several seasons, the other was a heavy loss to a side currently residing in the relegation zone. This is not an unfamiliar situation – last season they also began with four losses away from home. It has to be hoped that the struggles which were then subsequently encountered do not once more materialise this time.
Thankfully, home matches this term have generally, so far, been more rewarding but the Old Gold face a stern test next week-end at Richmond Park when they entertain The New Saints on Saturday October 6th(k/o 2.30pm).
Lee Idzi; Tyrrell Webbe; Lewis Baldwin; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott (sub Sean Hanbury 89); Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan; Greg Walters; Jordan Vickers (sub Luke Cummings 61); Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Craig Hanford; Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas;
Goal: Liam Thomas (56);
Cards: (Y) Jordan Knott (70);
MG NATHANIEL CUP ROUND 2
Match Report – Cardiff Met v Carmarthen Town (25 September 2018)
Cardiff Met (3) Carmarthen Town (1) Nathanial MG League Cup R2
Carmarthen deservedly crashed out of the League Cup after a very disappointing performance that was a complete contrast to their impressive display of attacking football which earned them a comfortable victory in the WPL match between these sides at Richmond Park only three weeks ago.
The early stages of this match were decidedly uneventful with the play being largely confined to unproductive midfield exchanges as both sides squandered possession all too easily.
But all that changed after 8 minutes when Mael Davies initiated a slick move that carved open the Met defence. Town’s stylish midfielder, from the centre-circle, threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas who, with a slick pass, instantly set Luke Bowen sprinting forward to the edge of the penalty area where the experienced on-form striker dispatched a fierce angled drive that flew past ‘keeper Max Manson and into the far corner of the net – that was his fifth goal in the last six matches.
Yet that simply prompted the hosts to enliven their performance and they began to monopolise possession, methodically building attacks from deep positions and increasingly probing the Old Gold defence. And on 14 minutes they drew level. Will Evans on the left flank fired a huge cross to the far side of the penalty area where Dylan Rees struck a low angled shot that was smartly blocked by ‘keeper Lee Idzi – however the ball fell nicely for Rhys Thomas who had the simple task of stabbing it into the net from close-range.
The Met continued to dictate the pattern and pace of the game with the play largely confined to the visitors’ half. Yet for a spell they were unable to again pierce the Town defence very much due to the assured performance of Dave Vincent, making a rare start this season, while alongside him Lewis Baldwin impressed on his Carmarthen debut looking strong, mobile and composed under pressure.
Town could make only rare progress with occasional counter-attacks. But in the 32ndminute they went close to regaining the lead – Tyrrell Webbe, from the half-way line, made a powerful run along the left touchline before sending an inviting cross into the penalty area where Bowen struck a stunning volley that was resisted by Manson, turning the ball away with an excellent flying save.
After 38 minutes the hosts were similarly denied a goal. Chris Baker played the ball across the edge of the penalty area to Eliot Evans who dispatched a rasping strike that drew a smart save from Idzi.
But in the final minute of the first-half the Met went ahead very much due to a mix-up in the Old Gold defence. Joel Edwards, from the left-wing, sent a deep cross into the goalmouth where Idzi and Declan Carroll both fatally hesitated in clearing the danger which allowed Baker the time and space to dart in and stab the ball home from close-range.
After the interval the game became more open and fast-paced as the play switched quickly from end to end although neither side could make any real impression on the opposition defence and no early scoring chances emerged.
For Carmarthen the principal architect of their midfield progress was Mael Davies, forever looking calm and confident in possession as well as accurate and penetrative with his distribution – but with his usual midfield partners, Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Luke Cummings, all on the subs bench for this cup-tie he was often short of effective help in that area.
Yet both sides were unable to make much progress and it was not until the 71stminute that any decent scoring opportunity arose – and that was due to a defensive error. Vincent, on the edge of his own penalty area, allowed Tim Parker to rob him of the ball and the tall striker instantly struck a crisp shot that Idzi, stretching high, just managed to claim.
Remarkably, Town’s only notable scoring effort in a very uninspiring second-half came in the 81stminute when Bowen broke clear of the Met back-line and raced into the penalty area before releasing a fierce angled drive that Manson blocked with a smart save – the loose ball rebounded out to Carroll and he sent it across to Sean Hanbury who saw his promising strike turned past the post by Manson diving quickly down at full length.
However the hosts finished the match as the more determined and stronger side. On 86 minutes Adam Roscrow sprinted along the left touchline to reach the by-line then delivered a cross into the goalmouth where Will Evans, with time and space, wastefully fired the ball over the bar.
But moments afterwards any chance that the Old Gold might possibly stage a late recovery was effectively extinguished. Following a Cardiff Met corner Lee Surman (who had only been on the field as a substitute for 8 minutes) was sent-off, evidently for an “off-the-ball incident” involving Parker. While the resulting penalty was squandered by Roscrow, blasting the ball high over the bar, it was not too long before he helped to make victory secure by setting up a third goal.
In the second minute of added time, with Town pressing upfield in the faint hope of snatching a late equaliser, Roscrow broke free along the left-wing and into the penalty area – as Idzi advanced to challenge him he slid the ball across to Parker, completely alone, who had the simple task of firing it into the unguarded net.
A miserable finish to a generally miserable match – it seems to be a very long time ago since the Old Gold were dominating this League Cup competition, winning the trophy twice in successive seasons!!
Town must now very quickly recover and regroup since their next two matches can hardly be more challenging – on Saturday (September 29thk/o 2.30pm) they visit Connah's Quay who currently lie second in the WPL, while the following week-end (October 6thk/o 2.30pm) they entertain perpetual League Champions and current leaders TNS.
Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers (sub Jordan Knott sub 66); Lewis Baldwin; Dave Vincent (sub Lee Surman 79); Tyrrell Webbe (sub Greg Walters 66); Jay Woodford; Mael Davies; Declan Carroll; Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen; Sean Hanbury;
Unused subs: Luke Cummings; Ceri Morgan;
Goal: Luke Bowen (8);
Cards: (R) Lee Surman (87);
WPL Matchday 7
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Aberystwyth (22 September 2018)
Carmarthen Town (2) Aberystwyth (2)
Never has the expression “a game of two halves” been more relevant – while the Old Gold overwhelmed the visitors during the first 45 minutes and should really have secured more than the two-goal advantage which they actually managed, after the interval the Seasiders struck back and virtually dominated the game just as emphatically.
Town made a refreshingly positive start, controlling the midfield and launching a series of rapid, penetrating attacks that kept the visitors’ defence fully occupied. Briefly Aberystwyth withstood that pressure but soon a stream of scoring chances emerged.
On 5 minutes Sean Hanbury, from close to the corner of the penalty area, struck a fierce free-kick that flew narrowly over the bar. Moments later Liam Thomas threaded a short pass through to Ceri Morgan who raced towards the by-line then fired a deep cross to beyond the far post where Luke Bowen planted a close-range header just wide of the goal.
Then in the 10thminute the Old Gold, with a move begun from deep inside their own half, deservedly took the lead. Morgan fired a long pass forward which Bowen, with defender Lee Jenkin close-by, pursued into the penalty area – the Aber player woefully under-hit an attempted back-pass to his goalkeeper which Town’s experienced striker intercepted and he instantly drilled a smart drive into the back of the net.
Encouraged by that success Carmarthen intensified their attacking momentum, driven to a notable extent by the energy and vision of central midfielders Ceri Morgan and Greg Walters. On 16 minutes a free-kick from Declan Carroll was punched away by ‘keeper Leigh Jenkins then cleared by a defender but the ball fell nicely for Tyrrell Webbe who struck a stunning 40 yard shot which the surprised ‘keeper, well off his goal-line, just managed to turn over the bar.
After 22 minutes the hosts again went close when Thomas sent a lofted pass through to Bowen who, from deep inside the penalty area, released a crisp strike that was blocked in front of goal by a defender.
Throughout this opening period Aberystwyth had been barely able to get across the half-way line – and it was only when they won two consecutive corner-kicks after 30 minutes that the Old Gold defence suffered any noticeable element of pressure and concern.
Indeed, the only worry for Carmarthen supporters was the failure of their team to convert any more than just a single goal from the many scoring opportunities that they had created – but that was remedied in the 38thminute.
From the centre-circle Walters sent the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area where Bowen played it back to Thomas who from 20 yards clinically converted the chance by firing a smart volley past Jenkins and into the back of the net.
And shortly afterwards the referee blew the whistle to conclude undoubtedly the most exhilarating 45 minutes of attractive attacking football that the Old Gold have produced in a very long time.
After the interval a similar pattern of play soon emerged – but this time it was Aberystwyth, now showing far more urgency and purpose, who took charge of the game with the hosts being forced back on defence as they attempted to protect their lead.
And on 50 minutes they went close to reducing the deficit when, following a corner-kick, Wes Baynes drove the ball into the packed penalty area – a defensive clearance went straight to Joe Phillips but he saw his 20 yard strike slide just beyond the far post. Then moments later Matthew Jones fired a right-wing cross into the goalmouth where Ryan Edwards, with time and space, produced a close-range header that Lee Idzi was well-placed to claim safely.
The Seasiders were enjoying more and more possession, while the Town defence looked increasingly stretched under pressure. A series of crosses from both sides of the pitch flew into the home penalty area but due to some solid, albeit occasionally desperate, defending under the guidance of experienced centre-back Lee Surman, coupled with a few moments of good fortune, Idzi’s goal remained unblemished.
However eventually in the 64thminute the visitors, almost predictably, snatched a goal. After some good approach work Edwards, on the left flank, crossed the ball into the crowded goalmouth where Ashley Ruane forced a close-range header over the goal-line.
While Aber continued to dominate possession and also enjoyed significant territorial advantage, the Old Gold were occasionally managing to relieve the pressure with a few spirited counter-attacks – and after 66 minutes they fashioned a decent scoring chance. Mael Davies embarked on a powerful run along the right-wing before slipping the ball forward to Walters who fired it into the penalty area where Bowen evaded his marker then hit an angled drive that defeated Jenkins but was diverted outside the far post by a defender.
A further period of pressure from the Seasiders was successfully negotiated by the overworked home defence but eventually, in the 78thminute, they were undone by an excellent strike from Declan Walker – he received the ball just outside the penalty area from Baynes’ free-kick then turned sharply past Webbe before releasing a powerful strike that defeated Idzi and left the back of the net bulging.
Having now got back on level terms, the visitors poured forward with even greater intensity as they sensed the opportunity for snatching a late winning goal while Town, only recently seeming to be cruising towards a comfortable victory, were being forced to anxiously defend in depth in order to safeguard their single point. And despite a couple of late goalmouth scares they achieved that distinctly modest aim.
Carmarthen’s next WPL fixture is on Saturday 29thSeptember (k/o 2.30pm) when they make the long trip up to North Wales to face Connah’s Quay who currently lie second in the League table.
Lee Idzi; Mael Davies; Jordan Knott; Lee Surman; Tyrrell Webbe (sub Jordan Vickers 81); Greg Walters; Ceri Morgan; Declan Carroll; Sean Hanbury (sub Craig Hanford 70); Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Luke Cummings; Dave Vincent; Jay Woodford;
Goals: Luke Bowen (10); Liam Thomas (38);
Cards: (Y) Mael Davies (43); Lee Surman (77);
WPL Matchday 6
Match Report – Cefn Druids v Carmarthen Town (15 September 2018)
Cefn Druids (4) Carmarthen Town (0)
After two successive entertaining and convincing victories at Richmond Park had given Carmarthen supporters good reason to believe that performances would continue to improve, this very disappointing defeat at Cefn (bottom of the League table before this match) clearly demonstrated that life away from home, at least, will be much more testing.
And this victory for the Druids, and the goal margin, was entirely merited. From the outset they put the Old Gold defence under severe pressure with a series of penetrating attacks. Straightaway, in quick succession three dangerous crosses were fired into the goalmouth but were cleared by the visitors before the first notable scoring chance arose on 4 minutes – Arkadiusz Piskorski took the ball forward along the right touchline to reach the by-line then sent an inviting cross towards the near post where Dean Rittenberg planted his close-range glancing header narrowly over the bar.
However moments later Cefn took the lead. Ryan Kershaw was allowed the space to run forward from the centre-circle and claim the ball before dispatching a rasping 20 yard drive that flew beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.
Worse was soon to follow for Town – and for Idzi in particular. In the 8thminute Matty Owen delivered a routine corner-kick into the goalmouth where the experienced ‘keeper leapt high to gather the ball but, under no real pressure from any opponent, he uncharacteristically failed to handle it cleanly – as the ball ran loose, Druids defender Nathan Peate was quickest to react and had the simple task of heading it into the empty net from close range.
So, alarmingly, with the match still in its earliest stages the Old Gold found themselves two goals behind having had barely any meaningful possession of the ball during this time.
Then on 14 minutes Cefn looked certain to increase that lead and it was only due to Idzi, atoning for his earlier expensive error in the most remarkable fashion, that they failed. Another dangerous cross into the goalmouth reached Rittenberg who saw his smart close-range header forced against the bar by the ‘keeper with an astonishing reflex save – then as the ball bounced dangerously free in front of the unguarded goal Idzi swiftly recovered to punch it clear as Jordan Evans pounced for an easy tap-in chance.
However from that point Town, belatedly, began to show more intent and competitiveness – passing the ball around productively, they were now enjoying their fair share of possession and beginning to put pressure on the home defence, albeit without yet managing a serious scoring opportunity.
But then, just as it seemed that their prospects for the rest of the match were improving, in the space of just ten minutes the Old Gold suffered the loss, through injuries in separate incidents, of two highly influential players – Ceri Morgan and Luke Cummings.
For the remainder of the first-half the play was fairly evenly-balanced with both defences looking comfortable under intermittent pressure and, consequently, very few scoring chances emerged. It was not until deep into added time that Town at last had a shot on target when Declan Carroll drifted in from the left flank to reach the corner of the penalty area then dispatched a speculative drive that ‘keeper Michael Jones gathered quite comfortably.
After the interval the visitors began brightly and immediately put pressure on the Druids defence. And inside the first minute of play they went close to scoring. Jordan Knott began the move, threading a delightful pass through to Jordan Vickers just inside the penalty area – he instantly slid the ball across to Luke Bowen who dispatched a fierce 15 yard drive that struck the underside of the bar but the ball bounced away from the goal before being cleared to safety by a defender.
The match soon developed into a fast-paced end-to-end affair and on 57 minutes Town forged another decent chance when Sean Hanbury, near the left touchline, delivered another searching cross deep into the penalty area where Bowen, from 8 yards, produced a promising looping header that Jones, at full-stretch, just managed to turn over the bar.
However, as the Old Gold increasingly swept forward in search of goals they began to leave themselves vulnerable to Druids’ counter-attacks.
After 61 minutes Jordan Evans found plenty of space to run free from the centre-circle to reach the edge of the penalty area before striking a smart drive that Idzi turned aside with an impressive full-length save. Then on 66 minutes Mudimu sent a fine long pass from the half-way line through to Piskorski who sprinted beyond Town defenders and into the penalty area only to be robbed of the ball by Idzi with an immaculately timed challenge.
Moments later Piskorski fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Rittenberg struck a sharp close-range shot that Carmarthen’s increasingly busy ‘keeper resisted with a stunning reflex save.
But in the 82ndminute the Druids increased their lead when Evans was allowed the time and space by the opposition defenders to move infield from the left touchline then forward to the edge of the penalty area before dispatching a rasping drive that flew past Idzi and into the far corner of the net.
During this spell the Old Gold were still launching attacks in an effort to make the score-line more respectable and on 85 minutes they went close to capturing a consolation goal – following a free-kick Mael Davies played a short pass to Bowen on the left flank and he immediately fired the ball into the packed goalmouth where it eventually reached Liam Thomas who hit a crisp close-range volley that Jones, with a smart save, turned around the post.
Yet there was still time in the closing minutes for another goal – but unfortunately at the other end of the pitch. Piskorski, who had been a persistent threat to the visitors’ defence virtually throughout the match, raced forward along the right wing to reach the by-line then crossed the ball into the goalmouth where Rittenberg easily swept it into the back of the net.
That was a disappointing end to a disappointing match for Town who, worryingly, have now lost all three of their WPL away fixtures and conceded 12 goals in the process. Thankfully, by contrast their home form is far better – and their next match on Saturday 22ndSeptember (k/o 2.30pm) is at Richmond Park when they entertain old rivals Aberystwyth Town.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings (sub Dave Vincent 26); Jordan Knott; Lee Surman; Sean Hanbury; Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan (sub Declan Carroll 16); Greg Walters; Jordan Vickers (sub Jay Woodford 85); Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Craig Hanford; Danny Thomas;
Cards: (Y) Declan Carroll (51); Luke Bowen (89);
WPL Matchday 5
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Newtown (8 September 2018)
Carmarthen Town (3) Newtown (0)
Carmarthen continued their promising start to the Welsh Premier League season with this thrilling performance against Newtown which featured three clinically well-taken goals that earned them a richly-deserved victory.
The Old Gold began positively, launching a series of attacks that kept the visitors pinned back deep inside their own half – several dangerous crosses were fired into the penalty area but due to a combination of some poor finishing, alongside sound defending by the opposition, Robins ‘keeper Dave Jones was never seriously tested.
It was fully 8 minutes before Newtown were able to produce a worthwhile attack and get into Town’s penalty area only for Ethan Jones to waste a decent chance by heading the ball wide from a good position.
However after their explosive early spell the quality of Carmarthen’s build-up play began to slip with several passes going astray and players too easily dispossessed – the visitors capitalised on this, increasing pressure on the home defence and on 13 minutes they went close to taking the lead. Steve Leslie played a neat pass across to Jones who moved swiftly towards the corner of the penalty area then released a crisp strike that defeated ‘keeper Lee Idzi but the ball crashed against the foot of the post before cleared safely away.
For a while the play remained more evenly-balanced and after 24 minutes the Robins fashioned another scoring opportunity – Joe Kenton made ground along the right-wing before crossing the ball into the penalty area where Jones, from 15 yards, fired a smart volley just over the bar.
But that close escape seemed to galvanize the Old Gold into greater effort since straightaway they began forcing the visitors back on defence with another period of attacking play reminiscent of their opening spell – but this time with much better quality finishing.
On 31 minutes Greg Walters produced a sublime lofted pass that sent Jordan Vickers racing forward into the penalty area – while his smart 12 yard shot was blocked on the goal-line by defender Kieran Mills-Evans, the ball rebounded out wide where Vickers claimed it again and fired it back into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas pounced to produce a close-range header that Dave Jones just managed to block.
Yet with Carmarthen now once again dominating the attacking play they at last took the lead, on 35 minutes, by a more straightforward route. Sean Hanbury, out wide on the left flank, lifted a huge cross deep into the goalmouth where Luke Bowen arrived with perfect timing to plant his firm close-range header past Jones and into the roof of the net.
After the interval Newtown began brightly, clearly intent on claiming an early equaliser as they put the home defence under sustained pressure. And on 53 minutes they were close to achieving that aim – Nick Rushton set up a decent chance for Alex Fletcher who struck a fierce 15 yard drive on target but saw Town substitute Dave Vincent make a timely intervention to clear the ball in front of the goal.
The Robins continued to press forward and from one of their attacks, in the 62ndminute, a simple three-man move finished with the ball in the net – but this was their own net at the other end of the pitch to put Carmarthen two goals ahead!
Idzi claimed the ball inside his own penalty area and immediately rolled it out to Vickers who embarked on a sensational 90 yard sprint upfield along the right touchline, comfortably outpacing several opponents at various stages, to reach the by-line – from there he fired the ball invitingly across the goalmouth where Bowen, with another excellent piece of goal-poaching anticipation and execution, powered it from 10 yards past the helpless Jones and into the back of the net.
This remarkable goal, due to its nature and timing, left the visitors shaken and the Old Gold elated. And soon afterwards, on 67 minutes, the hosts went close to extending their lead. Walters, who along with Mael Davies, Ceri Morgan and Cummings had been the driving midfield force behind Town’s adventurous attacking play, threaded a fine pass forward to Thomas who slipped neatly around a defender and from the corner of the penalty area dispatched a rasping drive that flew narrowly wide of the far post.
The tempo of the game quickened as the play swung from end to end with Carmarthen looking to secure an emphatic victory, while the Robins no doubt believed that a point at least was still achievable.
And after 71 minutes they looked certain to narrow the deficit – Rushton split the home defence with a fine pass that found Callum Roberts racing free into the penalty area only to be denied a certain scoring opportunity by Lee Surman who produced a remarkable recovering tackle to claim the ball and clear the danger.
Then in the 71stminute the Old Gold put the result beyond all doubt with a clinically executed third goal – Cummings produced yet another strong run along the right flank before delivering a perfectly-weighted cross deep into the goalmouth where Thomas rose high above defenders and forced his close-range header into the far corner of the net leaving Jones well beaten.
Newtown continued to seek some form of consolation and on 89 minutes they created, and squandered, their best chance of the match – Roberts burst into the penalty area and from the by-line sent an inviting cross towards the goalmouth where Luke Boundford, in clear space, somehow contrived to slice the ball well wide of the goal.
With two successive well-deserved victories, both without conceding a goal and in each case playing a refreshing brand of football, Carmarthen supporters are, justifiably, beginning to believe (despite the not unexpected TNS defeat) that this season might well be much more enjoyable, and hopefully successful, than the last.
At the very least they can look forward to the next match on Saturday 15thSeptember (k/o 2.30pm) when Town travel to Cefn Druids who currently lie at the foot of the WPL table.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Jordan Knott (sub Dave Vincent 46); Lee Surman; Sean Hanbury; Mael Davies (sub Jay Woodford 84); Ceri Morgan; Greg Walters; Jordan Vickers (sub Craig Hanford 77); Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused sub: Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;
Goals: Luke Bowen (35, 62); Liam Thomas (77);
Cards: (Y) Liam Thomas (37);
WPL Matchday 4
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Cardiff Met (1 September 2018)
Carmarthen Town (2) Cardiff Met (0)
Carmarthen deservedly secured their first win of the season thanks to a well-balanced display of resolute, stubborn defending coupled with frequent rapid and clinical counter-attacking – not only was this enough to comfortably subdue the Met’s normally sharp attacking play, but on occasions their defence was made to look unusually fragile.
Yet the visitors began the match in their customary fashion, enjoying the greater share of possession and methodically making progress upfield. However they were unable to make any serious early impression on the Town defence which, being well marshalled by the towering Lee Surman, remained disciplined and secure.
Despite that initial pressure, it was not until the 9thminute that the Met managed their first scoring effort when Dan Spencer, on the right flank, crossed the ball into the crowded penalty area where Sam Snaith hit a smart 15 yard volley that ‘keeper Lee Idzi carefully watched fly safely over the bar.
The Old Gold meanwhile were frequently able to break forward from deep positions inside their own half and on 13 minutes they fashioned a decent chance when Luke Cummings surged forward along the right-wing before delivering a searching cross deep into the penalty area where Greg Walters produced a close-range header that ‘keeper Esa Aalto was well-placed to gather safely.
And Town, usually through the craft and determination of Mael Davies, Walters, Ceri Morgan and Cummings, continued to launch penetrating counter-attacks which frontmen Luke Bowen, Liam Thomas and Jordan Vickers eagerly pursued.
While several broke down in the face of some solid Met defending, eventually the Old Gold took the lead in the 35thminute through a smart piece of goal-poaching by Liam Thomas – from the right-wing Cummings sent another fine cross into the penalty area where Town’s all-time top scorer neatly stole the ball off a hesitant defender then from close-range instantly struck an angled volley past Aalto and into the far corner of the net.
Stung by that setback, the visitors were quick to respond – on 37 minutes Spencer raced forward from midfield then struck a rasping 20 yard drive that Idzi, with an impressive full-length save, turned against the top of the post before the ball bounced safely away.
And in the closing moments of the first-half Spencer again surged upfield to reach the by-line then fired an inviting cross towards the far post but saw Snaith wastefully plant his close-range header wide of the goal.
After the interval the Met immediately pressed forward in search of an early equaliser – but through a combination of weak finishing and, more particularly, determined (occasionally desperate) Old Gold defending the home goal was never under serious threat during this spell. The only notable effort arose on 64 minutes when Will Evans released a speculative long-range strike that Idzi, at full length, turned aside.
However the visitors’ commitment to scoring left them vulnerable to counter-attacks which Town, primarily through the pace and mobility of strikers Thomas and Bowen, were well equipped to exploit. And in the 64thminute they fully capitalised on this in clinical fashion.
With Carmarthen breaking swiftly out of defence, Walters headed the ball forward to Thomas who sprinted determindely into the penalty area then, after shrugging off a defender, he struck a fierce angled drive that Aalto could only manage to force against the bar – as the ball fell loose Davies was the quickest to react and from close-range he gratefully stabbed it into the unguarded net.
The Met once more launched a series of attacks which, as before, the Old Gold defence successfully withstood – and just ahead of them the industrious midfield unit willingly dropped back to provide a further valuable layer of defensive cover whenever necessary. As a result, only rarely was Idzi seriously tested and on each occasion the experienced ‘keeper, displaying his customary safe and assured handling, confidently resisted any threat to his goal.
While the play in the closing stages was largely confined to Carmarthen’s end of the pitch, they did produce one notable late counter-attack when on 80 minutes the ball reached Walters just outside the penalty area but he saw his smart 20 yard volley fly narrowly outside the post.
However Town’s primary concern was to protect their lead and secure three valuable points which they comfortably managed. And it has to be hoped that this encouraging performance, against one of the stronger teams in the WPL, can be repeated and ideally improved on in forthcoming fixtures as Neil Smothers’ new-look side further settles and progresses.
Carmarthen’s next fixture is on Saturday September 8th(k/o 2.30pm) when Newtown visit Richmond Park.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Sean Hanbury (sub Dave Vincent 71); Jordan Vickers (sub Declan Carroll 68); Greg Walters; Ceri Morgan; Mael Davies (sub Craig Hanford 87); Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused sub: Jay Woodford;
Goals: Liam Thomas (35); Mael Davies (64);
Cards: (Y) Greg Walters (43); Lee Surman (60);
MG NATHANIEL CUP ROUND 1
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Goytre (28 August 2018)
Carmarthen Town (5) Goytre (0) Nathanial MG League Cup R1
Carmarthen progressed to the second round of the League Cup with this fairly comfortable victory over Welsh League Division One side Goytre who, despite the score-line, provided stern opposition particularly throughout the second-half.
Town made a refreshingly positive start, dominating the midfield and launching a series of rapid, penetrating attacks that kept the visitors’ defence fully occupied. Initially, often due to a poor ‘final pass’, several of those attacks broke down before any scoring opportunities arose yet eventually, after 10 minutes, the hosts went close to taking the lead.
Luke Cummings directed a long pass through to Luke Bowen just inside the penalty area but from a wide position and with a defender close-by the experienced striker fired the ball narrowly outside the post and into the side netting.
The Old Gold continued to dictate the game with midfielders Mael Davies and Greg Walters, with their pace and vision, particularly influential. And on 18 minutes a delightful flowing move from the half-way line tore open the Goytre defence. Possession passed rapidly from Jay Woodford through Walters and out to Cummings on the right-wing – he surged forward then delivered a fine cross into the goalmouth where Bowen saw his powerful close-range header turned aside by ‘keeper Joseph Massaro with a smart reflex save.
It seemed unlikely that the visitors’ goal would survive much longer and, predictably, in the 22ndminute Town went ahead with another sublime, incisive move. From the half-way line Liam Thomas threaded a long pass through to Bowen who raced forward into the penalty area then, unselfishly, set up a fine chance for Walters – he struck a powerful drive that took a huge deflection off a defender but as the ball looped high close to the goal Jordan Vickers, alert to the opportunity, headed it firmly into the roof of the net. Moments later, after another surging run along the right-wing, Cummings played the ball forward to Thomas just inside the penalty area – he turned sharply past a defender then released a rasping angled shot that Massaro resisted with an impressive point-blank save.
Throughout this spell Goytre, with commendable effort and determination, began to make progress upfield – but they were simply unable to pierce the Old Gold defence in any meaningful way and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously troubled.
And it was from a huge clearance out of defence that Town extended their lead after 32 minutes – the ball reached Bowen who burst forward along the left flank before sending a precision pass across the edge of the penalty area where Walters arrived with perfect timing and dispatched a stunning drive that left Massaro floundering and the net bulging.
Shortly afterwards the hosts went further ahead. Thomas, with a masterful pass that split the opposition defence wide open, set Davies racing into the penalty area – he cleverly side-stepped a defender then crisply drilled the ball beyond Massaro’s reach and into the far corner of the goal.
Straightaway Carmarthen, and Davies in particular, were back on the attack – the young midfielder, from the right touchline dispatched a perfectly measured cross into the goalmouth where Bowen, rising high above his marker, sent his close-range header just wide of the post.
By now the Old Gold, displaying irresistible pace and penetration, were in virtually complete command of the game. And in the 39thminute they added a fourth goal. Cummings fired a corner-kick deep into the packed goalmouth where Bowen made a timely arrival to rise above defenders and head the ball past Massaro and into the roof of the net.
Then on 43 minutes Cummings again surged forward along the right flank before producing a well-judged cross that reached Thomas, in clear space inside the penalty area, but Town’s top scorer struck his angled volley marginally wide of the goal.
After the interval Carmarthen resumed their domination of the game. In the 50thminute Davies cut inside from the left flank, effortlessly slipped past a defender then released a smart angled drive that Massaro turned aside with an impressive full-length save.
The Old Gold continued to press forward and threatened to create scoring chances but they seemed now to have lost their sharpness and confidence in and around the penalty area which had served them well beforehand – slack passing and wasteful finishing led to frustration and disappointment on and off the field.
On 67 minutes a fine pass from Vickers set Woodford racing forward to the edge of the penalty area but his crisp strike flew just wide of the post. Straightaway Cummings fired a right-wing cross low into the goalmouth only for Bowen to shoot wide from a good position.
Yet in the 75thminute Town did manage to extend their lead – from Declan Carroll’s corner-kick into the packed goalmouth Dave Vincent leapt high above defenders at the far post and planted his close-range header into the roof of the net.
Yet more wayward passing ensued and the urgency and positivity of the Old Gold’s refreshing first-half performance was clearly missing. Further scoring chances that would quite likely have been converted earlier were now being squandered.
This lacklustre period allowed Goytre the opportunity to press forward much more often, albeit with no evident likelihood of penetrating the home defence – and scoring even a late consolation goal seemed out of the question.
And Lee Idzi? After being kept fully occupied by TNS throughout the League match on Saturday, he was probably grateful for the chance of a rest this evening!
[Note: This is the first time in twelve seasons since five different Carmarthen players have scored in a match – the last occasion when this occurred was on April 28th2007 in a WPL fixture at Caernarfon when Town won 5-3 with one of the goals being scored by a certain Danny Thomas!
And the last (possibly only) time that goal-scoring feat was bettered was on October 1st2005 in a Welsh Cup tie at Cardiff Corinthians when Town demolished the home side 11-0 with no less than seven players on the scoresheet two of whom, Mattie Davies and Gary Lloyd, scored hat-tricks – and in two other League matches that season five different players had scored. But that season was notable for something even more significant in Carmarthen’s history – the memorable UEFA Cup matches against Longford Town. Happy Times!!]
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott (sub Craig Hanford 63); Sean Hanbury; Greg Walters (sub Declan Carroll 63); Mael Davies; Jay Woodford; Jordan Vickers; Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Lee Surman; Ceri Morgan;
Goals: Jordan Vickers (22); Greg Walters (32); Mael Davies (35); Luke Bowen (39); Dave Vincent (75);
Cards: (Y) Liam Thomas (65);
WPL Matchday 3
Match Report – The New Saints v Carmarthen Town (25 August 2018)
The New Saints (6) Carmarthen Town (0)
In most recent seasons, while Carmarthen have travelled to The New Saints and suffered defeat they have at least performed creditably enough to keep the score-line respectable – sadly, this was not one of those days.
From the outset the League Champions slipped straight into their familiar game pattern, dominating possession and patiently building pressure before incisively probing the Old Gold defence. Yet for a while they faced disciplined resistance from the visitors – notably, the central defensive pairing of Lee Surman and Dave Vincent were performing particularly soundly, while behind them ‘keeper Lee Idzi, as usual, demonstrated safe and secure handling whenever necessary.
For those reasons it was not until the 15thminute that the hosts managed their first serious scoring chance – Simon Spender, from wide on the right flank, sent an inviting cross into the crowded goalmouth where Dean Ebbe produced a sharp, close-range header that Idzi, showing remarkable reflexes, punched away.
The ball was cleared yet fell nicely for Tom Holland – he instantly threaded an excellent pass through to Jamie Mullan who was in clear space inside the penalty area but Idzi was quickly out of his goal to bravely claim the ball at the winger’s feet.
Shortly afterwards the Old Gold fashioned a promising counter-attack which finished with Liam Thomas, on the left flank, firing the ball across the edge of the penalty area to find Declan Carroll who turned smartly past his marker then released a fierce angled volley that flew narrowly beyond the far post.
But that was a fairly isolated moment of Town adventure and it was soon followed by the Saints taking the lead. On 23 minutes Spender once more burst down the right-wing then delivered the ball into the goalmouth and saw Redmond, completely unmarked, send a powerful header past Idzi and into the roof of the net.
Moments later Mullan, who would continue to torment the visitors’ defence during the rest of the match, sent a neat pass across to Aeron Edwards who hit a stunning 20 yard volley that Idzi, at full-stretch, smartly turned over the bar.
Yet after 29 minutes the Old Gold once more went close to scoring – arising from a rare excursion into the home penalty area the ball was cleared though only as far as Carroll who instantly released a rasping drive that slid just wide of the post.
But once again a Carmarthen opportunity was soon followed by a TNS goal. On 34 minutes an excellent pass from Daniel Redmond sent Mullan racing free beyond the last defender and into the penalty area – as Idzi advanced from his goal he neatly side-stepped the stranded ‘keeper and, from a very tight angle, cleverly fired the ball into the empty net.
Then as the first-half stretched into added time the hosts went further ahead. From the half-way line Adrian Cieslewicz fired a long pass forward to Ebbe who sprinted beyond Town’s defensive line to reach the corner of the penalty area – Idzi again was left isolated and, as he advanced, the lively striker lobbed the ball neatly into the unguarded net.
After the interval the earlier pattern of play quickly resumed with the Saints enjoying both the greater share of possession and territorial advantage. And if the Old Gold had harboured any thoughts of getting back into the game with a quick goal, they were soon dispelled when on 54 minutes TNS went further ahead in clinical fashion.
The visitors’ defence was simply carved wide open when Redmond sent a fine pass forward to Chris Marriott who raced on towards the by-line before delivering a searching cross into the goalmouth where Greg Draper rose high at the far post to head the ball firmly into the roof of the net – opposition players were helpless to intervene.
With another smart passing move after 68 minutes the hosts went close to scoring again – and once more Redmond was involved when he played the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Draper released a fierce volley which Idzi, with a smart save, turned over the bar.
Throughout, Town’s players could not be faulted for their effort and commitment – commendably, they displayed that in abundance. But that was simply not enough. All too often their only outlet was to fire the ball upfield towards Luke Bowen who for long spells was operating as a lone striker (since Liam Thomas frequently and necessarily dropped back to assist with defensive duties) but on the few occasions that it reached him, he was easily contained by the Saints’ impressive defenders.
And the Old Gold went further behind on 71 minutes following yet another incisive raid. A well-judged, long-range pass from Kurtis Byrne set Mullan racing free along the right touchline – he then fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Cieslewicz, completely unhindered by any defender, had the time and space to easily head the ball past Idzi and into the back of the net.
Then on 79 minutes Town’s defence was again equally accommodating as TNS secured their sixth goal – the ball was fed through to Mullan on the right-wing and he surged forward before lifting an inviting cross deep into the goalmouth to find Draper who, with plenty of time and space, comfortably converted his close-range header.
Thankfully Carmarthen will not have to face teams as strong as the League Champions too often but, having scored just one goal in 270 minutes of football so far this season, it is abundantly clear that this aspect of their game has to be improved – and soon.
Whether this can be rectified in their next WPL match on Saturday September 1st(k/o 2.30pm) at Richmond Park remains to be seen but, unhelpfully, this is against Cardiff Metropolitan University who currently occupy third place in the League table. Worryingly, in the only three previous home League fixtures between these teams the Old Gold have failed to score on each occasion!
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Sean Hanbury; Declan Carroll (sub Jordan Vickers 73); Greg Walters (sub Jay Woodford 78); Ceri Morgan; Mael Davies; Luke Bowen (sub Craig Hanford 89); Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;
Cards: (Y) Craig Hanford (90+2);
WPL Matchday 2
Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Llandudno (18 August 2018)
Carmarthen Town (0) Llandudno (0)
Carmarthen’s first Welsh Premier League match of the season at Richmond Park may have finished goal-less but it more than compensated for that failing by providing a highly entertaining display of attacking football between two well-matched sides that produced plenty of goalmouth action and a host of scoring chances.
From the outset the match quickly developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair with both sides looking to break forward at every opportunity. And after only 3 minutes the visitors managed the first scoring chance when a poor clearance out of the Town defence went straight to Leo Smith who struck a sharp 20 yard drive which flew narrowly over the bar.
But Town responded positively with a series of penetrating counter-attacks, the most promising arising on 7 minutes when Greg Walters initiated a swift, incisive move from the half-way line – having won possession, he played a fine pass through to Luke Bowen who sent the ball out to Jordan Vickers and he raced forward along the right-wing before firing a searching cross deep into the goalmouth where Llandudno defender Ieuan Hewitt, under serious pressure from Bowen, headed the ball just marginally over his own bar to safety.
While the match continued to flow from end to end, for a spell the hosts created the better scoring opportunities largely due to the energy and vision of the midfield quartet Vickers, Mael Davies, Ceri Morgan and Declan Carroll – and they received valuable support from full-backs Luke Cummings and Aidan O’Kelly who eagerly broke forward along the flanks whenever possible.
And it was Davies, hugely impressing on his debut in the Old Gold colours, who engineered another fine chance in the 19thminute. He took the ball off an opponent near the centre-circle then slipped a neat pass out to Bowen on the right-wing who delivered a measured cross into the penalty area where Liam Thomas released a smart curling shot that went around a defender but slid just wide of the far post.
Although the play remained quite evenly-balanced, Town again went close to taking the lead on 32 minutes when Walters, from well inside his own half, produced a sublime defence-splitting pass that sent Bowen surging towards the penalty area - having outpaced a defender, he struck a fierce drive beyond the reach of ‘keeper Shaun Pearson but saw the ball fly narrowly wide of the goal.
During this time Llandudno had continued to pose a threat with frequent penetrative raids and after 38 minutes they went close to taking the lead. Following a corner-kick into the packed penalty area the ball reached Hewitt who produced a firm close-range header that defeated ‘keeper Lee Idzi but struck the foot of the post before Thomas, well-placed on the goal-line, cleared the danger.
Yet the Old Gold produced the final chance of the first-half in the 43rdminute when Lee Surman began a fine sweeping move from deep in defence by firing the ball forward to O’Kelly – he, in turn, sent it neatly across to Thomas, just outside the penalty area, who hit a rasping strike that took a slight deflection off a defender, enough to send the ball marginally wide of the goal.
After the interval the opening period was fairly quiet and uneventful with the play confined to the midfield. But the game came to life once more when on 60 minutes a superbly measured long pass from Carroll set Bowen racing clear into the penalty area who was denied only by Pearson’s sharp reactions, diving quickly down to claim the ball at the striker’s feet.
Shortly afterwards, Cummings sent a long cross-field pass to Carroll and he instantly set up a fine chance for Davies who from 20 yards dispatched a stunning angled drive that flew just narrowly beyond the far post.
Immediately Llandudno responded – Hewitt broke forward into the penalty area and hit a fierce shot that took a deflection off a defender which Idzi, demonstrating impressive reflexes, turned aside at full length.
But then in the 79thminute the game, which had been competitive but nothing worse or unusual, suddenly erupted when a confrontation involving several players from both sides arose. Once that had calmed down, there was a further delay while O’Kelly, prostrate on the ground with a seemingly bad injury, received lengthy treatment before being helped off the field.
The closing stages of the match were, by contrast, fairly uneventful. While both sides pressed forward in search of a late winning goal, the only decent chance arose on 86 minutes when Walters embarked on a strong run from the half-way line before playing the ball out wide to Carroll – he sent an inviting cross into the crowded goalmouth only to see Pearson smartly punch the ball clear to deny strikers Thomas and Bowen, both close by, a golden scoring opportunity.
So the Old Gold, while certainly showing distinct improvement in terms of their overall performances, are still searching for that elusive victory to help boost their prospects for a better and more productive opening period of the WPL programme than they experienced last year. Their next match on Saturday 25thAugust (k/o 2.30pm) would be a good, if unlikely, time to start – they visit perpetual League champions The New Saints.
Then on the following Tuesday (28thAugust k/o 7.45pm) at Richmond Park they entertain Welsh League side Goytre in the Nathaniel MG League Cup 1stRound.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Greg Walters; Lee Surman; Aidan O’Kelly (sub Jay Woodford 85); Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 71); Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan; Declan Carroll; Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Dave Vincent; Craig Hanford;
Cards: (Y) Luke Cummings (85); Aidan O’Kelly (85);
WPL Matchday 1
Match Report – Bala v Carmarthen Town (10 August 2018)
Bala (2) Carmarthen Town (1)
Carmarthen began the new Welsh Premier League season with a very tough encounter against Bala who only a few weeks ago were playing in the Europa League, having finished fourth in the WPL last season – and, in addition, over the summer they have strengthened their squad by signing several experienced players.
From the outset the match soon developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair although, with both defences looking quite secure, no serious early scoring chances arose. Bala were clearly enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage but the Old Gold were quick to launch a series of counter-attacks, exploiting the pace and mobility of strikers Luke Bowen and Liam Thomas.
And it was the visitors, on 12 minutes, who first went close when Aidan O’Kelly played the ball across to Thomas who sent an inviting cross towards the far side of the goalmouth where Jordan Vickers, from a difficult angle, volleyed into the side-netting.
However the hosts straightaway responded with a spell of sustained pressure and after 19 minutes Henry Jones fired a long free-kick into the crowded penalty area only to see Anthony Miley, from a good position, direct his close-range header over the bar.
But in open play Carmarthen’s defence, and in particular the central pairing of Lee Surman and Greg Walters, presented stern resistance and ensured that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested during this spell.
And once again, they were near to opening the scoring when on 25 minutes, from a swift counter-attack led by Luke Cummings, they won a free-kick by the right touchline – Tyrrell Webbe’s searching delivery reached Thomas, rising high above defenders, but from close-range he sent his glancing header just wide of the post.
The earlier pattern of play continued with Bala, despite their possession and attacking flair, looking unlikely to score - meanwhile Town, with a series of counter-attacks, were sadly not sufficiently clinical when opportunities arose.
It seemed that the game needed a moment of something special to break the deadlock and bring it to life – and in the 36thminute Henry Jones provided just that. He raced into the penalty area, slipped effortlessly past O’Kelly then from close to the by-line produced a remarkable piece of footwork to cross the ball to the far post where Steven Tames arrived, completely unmarked, to send his close-range header into the roof of the net.
The only other notable scoring chance in the first-half arose on 44 minutes when Jones struck a fierce long-range free-kick that Idzi carefully watched slide just outside the post.
After the interval Bala began confidently – but despite enjoying spells of possession, they achieved very little due to the continuing determined resistance of the Old Gold defence. Town, meanwhile, once more relied on swift, incisive counter-attacking and they went close to snatching an equaliser in the 66thminute when Vickers broke away from the midfield before sending a fine pass through to Bowen who took the ball into the penalty area then struck a rasping angled drive that flew narrowly wide of the post.
Shortly afterwards, the visitors again threatened the Lakesiders’ goal. From the centre-circle Thomas began a delightful sweeping move when he sent the ball across to Ceri Morgan who in turn slid it out to Webbe as he surged along the left-wing – he then fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Bowen planted his close-range header just beyond the far post.
However that brief spell of Carmarthen pressure was abruptly terminated on 67 minutes when Tames won possession of the ball well outside the penalty area then raced forward and released a smart 20 yard shot that went beyond Idzi’s reach and into the corner of the net.
Stung by that further setback the Old Gold straightaway pressed forward with greater frequency and intensity with influential midfielder Morgan, at his competitive best, always at the heart of the action.
After 69 minutes Bowen surged forward, shrugging off his marker, to reach the penalty area then struck a stunning drive that ‘keeper Ashley Morris resisted with a sharp, reflex save.
Yet with the visitors now pouring upfield more often, their defence began to look more vulnerable – a situation that Bala sought to exploit with occasional counter-attacks. And on 80 minutes they should have gone further ahead. Kieran Smith took possession off Walters near to the by-line then slid the ball invitingly across the face of the goal where Tames, just two yards out and completely alone, contrived to stab it wide.
That seemed to spur the Old Gold into even greater efforts in their search for a goal – and in the 84thminute their persistence was rewarded. Bowen played a wonderful pass through to Thomas who raced forward into the penalty area – then as Morris came out of his goal to challenge him, Town’s top scorer neatly threaded the ball across to Sean Hanbury who had the simple task of tapping it into the back of the empty net.
Now, for the first time in the match, Bala were pinned back on defence in a desperate effort to protect their slender lead as Carmarthen swept forward relentlessly. And on 87 minutes they were close to conceding a second goal. Webbe raced along the left flank then sent the ball forward to Bowen who fired a dangerous cross deep into the packed goalmouth, eventually reaching Thomas who, sadly, saw his close-range effort cleared off the goal-line by a defender.
But that was the final thrilling moment of an entertaining match – and despite this defeat the Old Gold can be satisfied with their overall performance against a strong, experienced side that will surely be again challenging for honours this season, just as they have done over recent seasons.
Town’s next match is at Richmond Park on Saturday 18thAugust (k/o 2.30pm) when Llandudno make the long journey south for a WPL fixture.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Greg Walters; Lee Surman; Tyrrell Webbe; Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 73); Declan Carroll; Ceri Morgan; Aidan O’Kelly; Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Dave Vincent; Craig Hanford; Jay Woodford;
Cards: (Y) Greg Walters (7);
Goal: Sean Hanbury (84);