CARMARTHEN missed the opportunity to lift themselves up into sixth place in the Welsh Premier League when, disappointingly, they were forced to share the points with strugglers Cefn Druids after producing a performance that was brimming with energy and commitment but lacking in clinical finishing.
From the outset the game was fairly open and flowing as the play switched briskly from end to end – but with neither side initially looking capable of unsettling the opposition defence no realistic scoring chances emerged.
However after 10 minutes the Old Gold went close to taking an early lead when Declan Carroll produced a trademark long throw into the packed goalmouth and the ball rebounded back to Ceri Morgan who released a rasping 15 yard drive which defeated ‘keeper Stuart Cook but was cleared off the goal-line by defender Adam Hesp.
Cefn responded on 16 minutes with Corey Roper, from the right touchline, sending an inviting cross into the penalty area where Jordan Barrow, who worryingly had been left completely unmarked by Town defenders, thankfully directed his close-range header within easy reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi.
But those were isolated moments of genuine goalmouth excitement – it was not until the 25th minute that Druids again threatened when further slack defending allowed Michael Pritchard, deep inside the penalty area, to reach a right-wing cross but he saw his crisp angled strike drift just outside of the post.
Gradually, however, the Old Gold began building pressure on the visitors’ defence culminating in a series of corners that enlivened the goalmouth activity.And on 36 minutes after good work by Keiran Lewis down the left wing he neatly slid the ball across the edge of the penalty area to Carroll who dispatched a fierce drive that flew narrowly wide of the post.
Then on 44 minutes, with Town still enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, they opened the scoring when Morgan, from just outside the penalty area, played the ball through to Danny Thomas who from 12 yards swept it goal-wards where Mark Jones applied the final touch by stabbing home from close range.
Yet their long-awaited lead lasted barely three minutes.In added time, from a quick Druid’s counter-attack Barrow fell under a challenge by Dave Vincent in the penalty area – the referee immediately awarded a spot-kick which Pritchard comfortably converted.
After the interval the game soon became more open and entertaining than earlier as both sides enthusiastically attacked with greater urgency and purpose.And Cefn were soon rewarded with a goal on 54 minutes when from Naim Arsan’s corner the ball fell nicely for Matthew Eckersley who from 10 yards fired it through a pack of players past the unsighted Idzi and into the back of the net.
Moments later Jordan Harper went close to extending that lead with an audacious long-range shot from the left touchline that sailed over Idzi but landed on top of the net.
Then remarkably, just as the Old Gold had done in squandering their advantage before half-time, Druids lost their lead within three minutes by conceding a penalty.A searching long pass from Lewis deep inside his own half set Jones racing clear and into the penalty area only to be tripped by Eckersley – Jones exacted revenge by drilling his spot-kick past Cook and into the back of the net.
The play continued to flow seamlessly from end to end but neither side was able to secure a crucial third goal principally due to some resolute defiance by both defences – but additionally, in Town’s case their occasional lack of conviction in front of goal or a poor ‘final ball’ in and around the penalty area meant potentially decent scoring opportunities were wasted.
Indeed, the only notable chance during the latter stages arose in the 83rd minute when Lewis Harling cut inside from the left flank and held off his marker to reach the corner of the penalty area and then struck a smart angled drive that took a deflection off a defender which sent the ball just marginally beyond the far post.
Carmarthen will no doubt regard this result against one of the clubs in the lower reaches of the WPL as two points lost, especially since they must now face perennial champions and current runaway League leaders TNS next Friday (17th November k/o 7.30pm) at Richmond Park – simply avoiding defeat on that occasion would be a massive achievement.
Lee Idzi, Dan Sheehan, Dave Vincent, Lee Surman, Craig Hanford, Declan Carroll (Kyle Bassett 55), Keiran Lewis, Ceri Morgan, Danny Thomas (Lewis Harling 60), Matthew Thomas, Mark Jones.
Unused Subs: Neil Smothers, Iwan Roberts, Rhodri Cole.
Cards: (Y) Ceri Morgan (68).
Goals: Mark Jones 44, 57 (pen).