CARMARTHEN went into this game after a sequence of impressive performances including a comfortable victory over Aberystwyth only ten days ago but any prospect of them achieving a similarly favourable result quickly evaporated once this match was under way. Sadly, Town began poorly then gradually deteriorated before eventually plunging to a level of shambolic capitulation.
From the outset the game was fairly open as the play switched quickly from end to end – but with both defences initially looking sound and untroubled no realistic scoring chances emerged. However after 11 minutes the visitors took the lead when a long throw-in from Ricky Watts found Luke Borelli in the goalmouth and, despite the presence of several defenders, he was able to sweep the ball from close range beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the far corner of the net.
The Old Gold responded immediately with Jordan Knott, from the right touchline, delivering a long cross into the penalty area where Mark Jones headed the ball on to Liam Thomas who directed his header narrowly over the bar.
For the rest of the first-half the play remained quite evenly-balanced yet scrappy – once more neither side, despite creating some occasional pressure, could manage any further notable scoring opportunities. But, worryingly, this predictably fiercely-contested encounter between these old rivals was becoming increasingly ill-tempered and the half-time interval would do nothing to dampen that atmosphere.
After the re-start, as Town sought to press forward in search of an equaliser Aberystwyth began looking more of a threat on the counter-attack, particularly whenever experienced winger Geoff Kellaway, with his searing pace and strength on the ball, was involved. And on 59 minutes, following a generally uneventful early spell, Kellaway burst through a fairly static home defence to reach the edge of the penalty area then confidently drove the ball past Idzi and into the net.
Shortly afterwards the most disgraceful incident of the match occurred with numerous players from both sides showing shocking indiscipline as a mass brawl erupted – once the referee had managed to calm things down and regain control he sent off Borelli for his second yellow card offence, earned quite ridiculously in the space of four minutes, and then brandished further yellows at two Carmarthen players for their part in the ugly scenes.
By the end of the game the referee had flourished his yellow card 10 times, evenly between the teams – shamefully, it could easily have been more.
When football resumed it soon became clear that while the Old Gold were using their numerical advantage to press forward at every opportunity, it was the visitors (mainly through Kellaway) who were showing the greater urgency and creativity.
And in the 71st minute they increased their lead when, at the end of another lightning break from midfield, Chris Jones sent a fine pass forward to Kellaway who took the ball to the by-line and fired it across the face of the goal where Kurtis March converted the simple close-range opportunity.
Then on 80 minutes Jones, inside his own half, won possession all too easily off Ceri Morgan and instantly threaded the ball through to Kellaway who outpaced trailing defenders and from the edge of the penalty area slid it past Idzi and into the net.
Yet there was still time for Aberystwyth to further embarrass the Old Gold – in the 87th minute Jones embarked on a dazzling run down the left wing before crossing the ball dangerously into the goalmouth where Knott sent a weak clearance straight to Kellaway who crowned a marvellous personal display by confidently firing home from15 yards leaving Idzi well beaten.
Despite Town’s best efforts during the second-half they never managed a serious scoring chance – this had been a performance which is best forgotten and, hopefully, never repeated.
CARMARTHEN TEAM Lee Idzi, Dwaine Bailey, Lee Surman, Dave Vincent, Jordan Knott, Craig Hanford (Danny Thomas 72), Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan, Declan Carroll (Matthew Thomas 63), Mark Jones, Liam Thomas (Rhodri Cole 75).
Unused subs Dan Sheehan, Neil Smothers, Luke James-Raymond.
Cards (Y) Lee Surman (54), Liam Thomas (58), Dwaine Bailey (67), Kieran Lewis (67).
John Collyer | Allen Fitzpatrick