CARMARTHEN'S highly encouraging performance last week-end in their opening game of the Welsh Premier League season was rightly attributed to an impressive display of defending under pressure – but on this occasion, sadly, Newtown were able to capitalise on Town’s frequent defensive errors and indecision to inflict this comprehensive defeat.
Both sides made a hesitant start and with the play confined to midfield exchanges no serious early scoring threat emerged. But after 5 minutes the Old Gold managed the first chance when Lewis Harling stepped inside from the left-wing and slid a short pass across to Declan Carroll who from 20 yards struck a crisp drive that flew narrowly outside the far post.
Then, as the game eventually began to open up, the hosts went close on 12 minutes as Jack Hughes sent a left-wing cross deep into the goalmouth where Alex Fletcher saw his close-range header sail just over the bar.
Yet in the 20th minute Newtown went ahead when another high cross from Hughes was badly misjudged by Lee Surman, allowing the ball to reach Jason Oswell who instantly drilled a smart angled shot past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the far corner of the net. And moments later they increased their lead – Craig Williams, from the right touchline, directed a searching cross towards the crowded goalmouth where inattentive defensive marking left Oswell with the time and space to head the ball firmly home from close range.
Town immediately responded to this double setback by pouring forward to put the home defence under noticeable pressure for the first time in the match. And this was rewarded on 25 minutes when Kieran Lewis drove his corner-kick low towards the goalmouth where Mark Jones got a further touch on the ball and Dwaine Bailey, reacting quickest amongst a crowd of players, cleverly back-heeled it past ‘keeper David Jones and over the goal-line for the towering defender’s first goal in the Old Gold colours.
Yet far from marking the start of a Carmarthen revival, this only served to provoke Newtown into greater efforts to restore their comfortable goal advantage. And this they achieved in the 39th minute as Tom Goodwin sent a long pass forward to Neil Mitchell, on the edge of the penalty area, who in an instant controlled the ball and turned past Bailey all too easily before firing it beyond Idzi’s reach and into the net.
After the interval the hosts were the first to make an impression when on 51 minutes a long clearance by Jones was chased by Oswell who effortlessly shrugged off Bailey’s attentions and from just outside the penalty area lifted the ball over Idzi, who had advanced well out of his goal, only to see it drift just outside the post.
The Old Gold continued to struggle in the face of the waves of Newton pressure. After 64 minutes Mitchell’s deep cross from the right touchline found Oswell who produced a sharp close-range header that hit the post but bounced safely away. Then straightaway a virtually identical chance, fashioned by Fletcher, finished with Oswell’s header resisted by Idzi with a marvellous reflex save. And this was soon followed by a long-range strike by Williams that flew narrowly over the bar.
But it was another incident of poor defending on 68 minutes that enabled the home side to claim their fourth goal and effectively settle the result – Surman’s weak clearance went straight to Ryan Kershaw who was left unchallenged as he took the ball forward into the penalty area then confidently rifled it past Idzi.
All too late, and aided by the introduction of three substitutions in quick succession, Town raised their performance in search of goals to restore some sort of respectability in the score-line. But all they could manage, by way of consolation, was a Jones success in the 78th minute when Lewis delivered an inviting right-wing cross into the goalmouth where last season’s top scorer rose above his marker to head the ball firmly home from 6 yards.
To their credit the visitors continued to press forward until the final whistle but Newtown comfortably resisted to secure a well-deserved victory.
Carmarthen fans will now be hoping to see a far better display, particularly defensively, when they return to Richmond Park on Saturday (27th August k/o 2.30pm) for their next match against Airbus UK.
CARMARTHEN TEAM Lee Idzi, Dan Sheehan, Lee Surman, Dwaine Bailey, Jordan Knott, Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan (sub Dave Vincent 75), Lewis Harling, Declan Carroll (sub Kyle Bassett 68), Liam Thomas (sub Matthew Thomas 69), Mark Jones.
Unused Subs Danny Thomas, Thomas Rees, Rhodri Cole.
Cards (Y) Declan Carroll 37, Mark Jones 63, Dave Vincent 76.
Goals Dwaine Bailey 25, Mark Jones 78.
John Collyer | Dave Evans.