CARMARTHEN produced another commendable display of determined, high-energy football to take a richly-deserved point off a strong Bangor side that has invested heavily to improve their squad pre-season and currently lie third in Welsh Premier League.
And from the outset the visitors demonstrated that strength with a spell of sustained pressure that kept the Old Gold pinned back on defence. After just two minutes City had their first chance when Gary Roberts, from 25 yards, struck a fierce angled free-kick that ‘keeper Lee Idzi turned over the bar with an impressive flying save.
Then on 4 minutes Henry Jones finished a good run down the right-wing with a driven cross into the penalty area where Damian Allen connected with a smart close-range shot that Idzi resisted with a marvellous reflex dive. And moments later the visitors were even nearer to taking the lead when Allen’s corner-kick into the packed goalmouth was met by Dan Nardiello only for his crisp strike to smack the post and bounce safely away.
But having successfully survived that early onslaught, Town gradually began competing better in midfield, largely through the industry and invention of Lewis Harling, Kieran Lewis and Ceri Morgan, and making more forward progress with several encouraging counter-attacks.
As the play became more open and evenly-balanced, the Old Gold at last went close to snatching a goal after 17 minutes – Dan Sheehan, from near the half-way line, dispatched a long free-kick deep into the penalty area to find Lee Surman who headed the ball back across the face of the goal but saw ‘keeper Connor Roberts smother it at the far post to deny Matthew Thomas a close-range tap-in opportunity.
By this stage Town’s defence was looking more solid and composed with the central partnership of Surman and Dave Vincent particularly prominent. It was not until the 28th minute that Bangor managed another decent chance when Allen’s searching cross-field ball set Sion Edwards racing forward down the left flank to the corner of the penalty area only for his sharp drive to fly just over the bar.
The Old Gold’s prospects suffered a serious blow as lively striker Matthew Thomas and key midfielder Harling were forced off with injuries
But soon afterwards, in the space of 5 minutes the Old Gold’s prospects suffered a serious blow as lively striker Matthew Thomas and key midfielder Harling were forced off with injuries – since the Club are operating with one of the smallest squads in the WPL, depleted still more on the day by injuries and suspension, they were replaced by defenders Craig Hanford and Dwaine Bailey, the only two regular members of the match-day squad on the bench. Accordingly, Town were forced play for close to an hour with six defenders on the pitch, considerably weakening their attacking capability.
After the interval the play became confined largely to the midfield with both defences looking resilient and untroubled in the face of only occasional moments of pressure and neither side was able to fashion any notable scoring chances.
The earliest exception arose on 66 minutes as Jordan Knott, from the left touchline, sent a deep cross into the goalmouth where Morgan rose above his marker but saw his firm header fly narrowly over the bar.
Then in the 71st minute Town’s prospects seemed to have been given a welcome boost following a moment of reckless indiscipline from Henry Jones who stamped on Knott, lying on the ground following a challenge – the referee, after consulting his assistant, predictably sent off the Bangor midfielder.
Now with a numerical advantage, the Old Gold created the next opening on 75 minutes with a slick interchange of passes between Mark Jones and Morgan that led to Lewis striking a fine angled shot that went beyond Roberts’ reach but drifted just wide of the far post.
Yet moments later the visitors took the lead. A penetrating counter-attack finished with Jordan Davies bursting forward into the penalty area only to be brought down by Sheehan’s clumsy tackle – Roberts stepped up and comfortably drilled the spot-kick home.
Stunned by that setback, Town straightaway launched a series of attacks which initially had no real impact on City’s well-drilled defence. But then in the 86th minute they found success when Lewis sent an inviting corner towards the crowded goalmouth where Vincent emerged with perfect timing to head the ball past Roberts and into the roof of the net.
Immediately the Old Gold broke forward again with Morgan surging down the right flank before driving the ball across the face of the goalmouth where late substitute Danny Thomas, racing quickly in, only narrowly failed to reach it for a simple conversion. And well into added time another tempting Lewis corner was met by Liam Thomas who directed a close-range glancing header just marginally too high.
So for the third time already this season Carmarthen have, deservedly, taken a point off one of the stronger teams in the WPL but it would be remarkable if they could continue that sequence in their fixture next Sunday (25th September k/o 3.00pm) when they travel to TNS who have won all their seven games so far this season in their relentless pursuit of yet another League championship.
But before that, Town face old rivals Aberystwyth at home on Tuesday (20th September k/o 7.45pm) with the worrying prospect, after the three further injuries, of having to field another weakened squad.
CARMARTHEN TEAM Lee Idzi, Dan Sheehan (sub Danny Thomas 85), Lee Surman, Dave Vincent, Jordan Knott, Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan, Lewis Harling (sub Craig Hanford 41), Matthew Thomas (sub Dwaine Bailey 34), Mark Jones, Liam Thomas.
Subs not used Luke James-Raymond, Rhodri Cole.
Cards (M) Dave Vincent (33), Liam Thomas (61)
Scorer Dave Vincent (86).
John Collyer | Kevin Owen.