Cwmamman United 0-3 Carmarthen Town
CARMARTHEN opened their pre-season programme against Welsh League side Cwmamman United with a squad that comprised almost all the regulars that appeared last season (only Lewis Harling was unavailable due to the injury problems that plagued him for much of the last term), while of course Mark Jones, Kyle Bassett and Declan Carroll have now left the Club.
In addition there were first appearances for new signings Kostya Georgievsky (who played for Aberystwyth against the Old Gold last season) and former Welsh League players Adam Jenkins (Port Talbot) and Kyle Williams (Risca and Goytre), while Scott Delaney (a triallist from Goodwick in the Pembrokeshire League) also appeared. And additionally there was a first outing for Town’s new vibrant blue and white striped away kit!
The opening stages of this game were fairly uninspiring and uneventful with the play largely confined to midfield exchanges and neither side looking able to penetrate the opposition defence. During this spell this resembled little more than an opportunity for some welcome passing practice after the players’ summer break.
But gradually the Old Gold, despite facing a strong wind down the length of the pitch, began showing more promise and adventure going forward and on 20 minutes they fashioned the first notable chance of the match when Rhodri Cole finished a decent run down the left-wing with an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Williams’ soft close-range header sadly presented ‘keeper Robert Jones with a comfortable save.
Meanwhile Town’s defence looked sound and secure in dealing with Cwmamman’s occasional attacking bursts ensuring that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested. In particular, young towering central defender Delaney displayed commendable confidence and composure, undoubtedly benefiting from the constant encouragement and guidance provided by experienced co-defenders Lee Surman, Craig Hanford and Dan Sheehan.
Then in the closing stages of the first-half Carmarthen increased the tempo of their game still more. After 39 minutes influential midfielder Kieran Lewis, from the right-wing, directed a long cross-field pass towards Cole on the far side of the penalty area but he saw his fierce angled strike fly just wide of the near post. Moments later Danny Thomas slid a fine ball through to Matthew Thomas on the edge of the penalty area only for Jones, with a smart save, to turn the young striker’s promising drive around the post.
However in the 43rd minute Town deservedly went ahead. Lewis launched a huge lofted pass from the half-way line that reached Matthew Thomas just inside the penalty area and he cleverly headed the ball over Jones, who had advanced well out of his goal, and into the unguarded net.
Straightaway the Old Gold poured forward once more and were close to increasing their lead when Danny Thomas neatly set up a chance for Lewis who released a sharp 20 yard effort that defeated Jones but slid narrowly wide of the post.
After the interval Town struck again within 60 seconds of the start. A woeful back-pass from a Cwmamman defender was easily intercepted by Liam Thomas, ever-alert to a scoring opportunity, and from 8 yards he clinically swept the ball past substitute ‘keeper Luke Harris and into the net.
The Old Gold continued in rampant attacking fashion with Luke Cummings and Georgievsky using their pace along the wings to stretch and harass the United defence. And on 51 minutes Cummings embarked on a typically surging run along the right flank before delivering a searching cross into the penalty area only for Georgievsky, from 10 yards, to volley the ball just over the bar.
Moments later a slick interchange of passes between Cummings and Liam Griffiths just outside the penalty area ended with the adventurous full-back dispatching a crisp angled drive that drew an impressive reflex save from Harris.
Yet despite Town’s predominance the Welsh League side still managed the occasional break forward, albeit usually comfortably suppressed by central defensive pairing Dwaine Bailey and Dave Vincent. But after 61 minutes United won a free-kick and from 25 yards Jordan Vickers struck a fierce shot which Idzi, with a flying full-length save, turned aside – his first serious activity of the match and, as it would transpire, his only such involvement as the Old Gold went on to control proceedings.
A further significant feature of Carmarthen’s second-half performance was the dominance of industrious midfielders Ceri Morgan and Jenkins who with timely interventions and lively challenges so often halted United’s progress and, in turn, launched Town’s immediate attacking response.
On 70 minutes Georgievsky was again influential when he played the ball neatly across to Griffiths who released a fierce 20 yard strike that Harris expertly forced beyond the post. Cummings sent the ensuing corner into the packed goalmouth where Bailey turned sharply and hit a sharp close-range shot that was blocked on the goal-line by Harris.
Then in the 78th minute Cummings, from another corner-kick, played the ball short to Georgievsky – he instantly crossed it into the goalmouth to find Liam Thomas who, rising high above defenders, planted his header firmly past Harris into the roof of the net. Town’s record WPL goalscorer is straight back to doing what he does best!
While this was hardly the sternest of challenges for the Old Gold, it served to ease the players back into the routine and discipline of match play while giving their faithful band of travelling supporters a taste of things to come in the season ahead.
Team (effectively two different sides for each half):
[first-half]: Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan; Lee Surman; Scott Delaney; Craig Hanford; Jordan Ellis; Kieran Lewis; Kyle Williams; Danny Thomas; Matthew Thomas; Rhodri Cole;
[second-half]: Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Dwaine Bailey; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott; Ceri Morgan; Adam Jenkins; Kyle Williams (sub Rhodri Cole 69); Liam Griffiths; Liam Thomas; Kostya Georgievsky;
Goals: Matthew Thomas 43; Liam Thomas 46, 78;
Cambrian & Clydach 1-4 Carmarthen Town 5 July 2017
Carmarthen continued their pre-season programme with a competitive, entertaining match against Welsh League side Cambrian & Clydach that finished with a comfortable victory for the Old Gold thanks largely to a couple of late goals as they dominated the closing stages with some adventurous attacking play.
Yet the opening period was much more sedate and uneventful as the play swung back and forth although neither side looked capable of breaching the opposition defence – Town, in particular, were often guilty of spoiling some attractive approach work with a poor “final ball”.
However after 17 minutes the game sprang into life. Striker Liam Griffiths raced deep into the penalty area to reach a long through ball only for his close-range shot to be turned aside by ‘keeper Leighton James. Kieran Lewis drove the ensuing corner-kick low towards the near post where Griffiths deftly stabbed the ball home from close range.
Town immediately began to press forward with more freedom and purpose, driven largely by the energy and vision of midfielders Luke Cummings, Ceri Morgan and Lewis. On 26 minutes Jordan Knott, after a determined run along the left flank, sent a searching cross into the penalty area and while this was blocked by a defender, the ball went straight to Kostya Georgievsky who instantly struck a 20 yard drive only narrowly wide of the post.
Then in the 36th minute Dan Sheehan, from the right touchline, lifted an inviting cross deep into the penalty area where Griffiths headed the ball to Lewis but from 15 yards, and under pressure from defenders, he volleyed just over the bar.
After the interval Carmarthen took the early initiative and increased their lead in the 49th minute when Lewis, with another corner-kick, floated the ball high into the penalty area where Dwaine Bailey rose above a crowd of defenders and from 10 yards planted his firm header into the roof of the net leaving substitute ‘keeper Morgan Davies well beaten.
Moments later Cummings launched a huge cross-field pass towards Georgievsky on the far side of the penalty area – he slipped the ball across to Danny Thomas who set it up nicely for Kyle Williams but his 12 yard strike flew marginally too high. Then on 52 minutes Lewis followed a strong run along the left touchline with a fine cross into the penalty area where Danny Thomas saw his 15 yard effort rise narrowly over the bar.
For over an hour Cambrian & Clydach had competed well and enjoyed a fair amount of attacking football without noticeably troubling the Old Gold defence. But after 64 minutes they at last forced Lee Idzi into meaningful action when Chris McDonald struck a fierce 35 yard free-kick that the experienced ‘keeper turned over the bar.
Then on 68 minutes they reduced the deficit when Eliajah Chilewka’s surging run into the penalty area was halted by Knott with a challenge which the referee decided to penalise - Richard French drove the spot-kick firmly beyond Idzi’s reach.
Yet Town responded to this setback positively and they immediately embarked on a period of sustained pressure. In the 83rd minute Williams produced a dazzling 30 yard run down the right flank to reach the edge of the penalty area before releasing a rasping drive which Davies, at full length, punched away.
And on 85 minutes Craig Hanford’s searching cross into the penalty area found Matthew Thomas who turned sharply past his marker and from 15 yards fired a low drive that took a deflection which sent the ball looping over Davies and into the back of the net.
Moments later the home side went close to scoring again after a rare break forward when Chilewka raced into the penalty area but he was denied a scoring opportunity when Idzi dived bravely down at the winger’s feet and claimed the ball.
However the Old Gold were able to add a further gloss to the score-line in the 90th minute when Dan Sheehan’s well-flighted right-wing cross into the penalty area reached Danny Thomas who from 12 yards struck a sublime volley past Davies and into the roof of the net.
Team (effectively two different sides for each half):
[first-half]: Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan; Lee Surman; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott; Luke Cummings; Kieran Lewis; Ceri Morgan; Liam Griffiths; Liam Thomas; Kostya Georgievsky;
[second-half]: Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings (sub Jordan Knott 55, sub Dan Sheehan 76); Scott Delaney; Dwaine Bailey; Craig Hanford; Kyle Williams; Adam Jenkins; Kieran Lewis (sub Ceri Morgan 69); Danny Thomas; Matthew Thomas; Kostya Georgievsky (sub Liam Griffiths 69);
Goals: Liam Griffiths (17); Dwaine Bailey (49); Matthew Thomas (85); Danny Thomas (90);
STM Sports 1-3 Carmarthen Town 8 July 2017
Carmarthen returned to STM Sports for the third successive year as they continued their pre-season programme but unlike those previous encounters when they overwhelmed their opponents (winning convincingly 9-0 and 7-1) this time Town faced a more challenging test from the spirited Welsh League Division Two side.
Yet the Old Gold made a positive start as they launched a series of swift attacks that kept the home defence under early pressure – while a couple of chances were squandered with shots off target, they went close to taking the lead after 6 minutes when Kieran Lewis rolled a short corner-kick to Dan Sheehan who lifted the ball invitingly into the packed goalmouth where Jordan Knott hit a crisp close-range volley that ‘keeper James Packham managed to block on the goal-line.
But on 8 minutes Town went ahead. While two STM defenders in the centre-circle hesitated over dealing with a long clearance out of the visitors’ defence, Matthew Thomas got behind them and pounced on the loose ball then raced forward to the edge of the penalty area where, with great composure, he slipped neatly around the onrushing Packham and confidently drove the ball into the unguarded net.
Spurred by that success, the Old Gold continued to pour forward at every opportunity and in the 12th minute they were twice close to extending their advantage. First, Lewis curled a delightful 20 yard free-kick around the defensive ‘wall’ only to see Packham produce a superb flying save to turn the ball around the post. Then from the ensuing corner Lewis sent the ball into the crowded penalty area where Lee Surman rose high above defenders but planted his glancing header narrowly beyond the far post.
On 20 minutes Sheehan surged down the right flank before sliding the ball through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but he saw his crisp angled drive deflected marginally wide of the goal by a defender.
Throughout this spell of Town pressure STM were enjoying their fair share of possession – and winger Lamin Conteh in particular, with his pace and movement, was a frequent outlet for them on the counter-attack. However they were unable to make any serious impression on the visitors’ defence, featuring Dave Vincent, Dwaine Bailey and Surman, which looked secure and disciplined. And behind them Lee Idzi was never really tested.
Carmarthen again threatened after 25 minutes when Ceri Morgan sent a left-wing cross deep to the far side of the penalty area to find Sheehan who headed the ball back into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas released a smart close-range strike that Packham turned around the post.
Then on 34 minutes Knott delivered a long cross-field pass to Lewis who instantly played the ball across the edge of the penalty area enabling Morgan to fire a stunning volley that flew narrowly too high. Moments later the industrious Lewis again was involved, sending a fine ball through to Liam Thomas who turned sharply past his marker and from 10 yards hit a fierce drive that Packham resisted with a marvellous reflex save.
Town’s sustained first-half pressure presented a severe test for the Welsh League side’s defence and on the balance of play they really should have been more than just one goal ahead after 45 minutes.
After the interval the Old Gold started with a much-changed line-up – but this formation too immediately began with positive intent and within five minutes of the restart had increased their slender first-half lead. Kyle Williams made a determined run along the right touchline then crossed towards the goalmouth where Luke Cummings dispatched an angled shot that, despite the intervention of substitute ‘keeper Chris Golton, finished in the back of the net.
Sadly, Carmarthen were unable to enjoy the comfort of a two-goal advantage for long. STM increased the tempo of their game and, playing with impressive spirit and adventure, stretched the visitors’ defence with several penetrating attacks.
And in the 55th minute they reduced the deficit when a long cross-field pass from the half-way line reached the lively Conteh who had raced clear beyond Town’s back-line – he took the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area and swerved neatly past Idzi, who was well out of his goal, before firing into the empty net.
Yet while the second-half continued to be a more evenly-balanced affair, the Old Gold were still creating the better scoring chances. On 72 minutes Williams finished another strong burst along the right-wing with a searching cross into the goalmouth where Liam Griffiths, under pressure from a defender, volleyed the ball just over the bar.
Shortly afterwards a promising break through the centre by Danny Thomas was halted by a defender on the edge of the penalty area only for the loose ball to run straight to Cummings who released a fierce 20 yard drive that drew an impressive save from Golton.
Then in the 86th minute Sheehan surged forward down the right flank before firing the ball into the goalmouth, finding Griffiths who saw his firm glancing header well held by Golton at full stretch.
But in the closing seconds Carmarthen extended their lead to better reflect the overall balance of play during this match – Lewis threaded a fine pass through to Williams on the wide edge of the penalty area and the young winger crowned a productive 45 minutes by driving the ball into the far corner of the net from the tightest of angles.
Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan (sub Kyle Williams 46); Dave Vincent (sub Lee Surman 71); Dwaine Bailey (sub Luke Cummings 46); Lee Surman (sub Craig Hanford 46); Jordan Knott (sub Dan Sheehan 80); Kieran Lewis (sub Danny Thomas 46); Adam Jenkins; Ceri Morgan (sub Kieran Lewis 80); Liam Thomas (sub Liam Griffiths 46); Matthew Thomas (sub Kostya Georgievsky 46);
Goals: Matthew Thomas (8); Luke Cummings (51); Kyle Williams (90);
Goytre United 1-4 Carmarthen Town 15 July 2017
Carmarthen produced another encouraging performance as they continued their winning sequence in this latest pre-season fixture against Welsh League side Goytre United who presented a stern challenge in this entertaining encounter.
Town began brightly, forcing the home side back on defence with a series of spirited attacks. And after just 4 minutes they took the lead following a sweeping move instigated by Jordan Knott who finished a determined run along the left flank with a neat pass through to Liam Thomas – he instantly played the ball into the path of Danny Thomas who from 20 yards released a fierce low drive into the far corner of the net to leave ‘keeper Luke Martin well beaten.
Then on 9 minutes Dan Sheehan, from the half-way line, threaded a precise long pass through to Liam Thomas who turned sharply past his marker before hitting a 25 yard shot that Martin claimed with an impressive save.
But moments later the Old Gold capitalised on this early spell of pressure by extending their advantage – a poor back-pass from a United defender was easily intercepted by the ever-alert Matthew Thomas who resisted another defender’s challenge and then raced forward into the penalty area where he cleverly slotted the ball past Martin and into the back of the net.
Yet gradually Goytre were becoming more competitive, enjoying a decent share of possession and counter-attacking with some freedom as the game developed into a fast-paced end-to-end affair. Yet while Carmarthen were looking quite sharp, decisive and penetrative going forward, the Welsh League side were unable to breach the visitors’ well-drilled defence behind which ‘keeper Lee Idzi remained relatively untested.
However after 19 minutes the home side at last went close to reducing the deficit – following a corner there was an anxious scramble for the ball in the crowded goalmouth that finished with Sheehan hooking it to safety off the goal-line.
But United were successful in the 21st minute when a long ball from the half-way line found Jamal Roberts racing clear beyond the Town back-line and as Idzi charged well out of his goal to challenge him the lively striker calmly lifted the ball over the stranded ‘keeper and into the unguarded net.
Stung by that setback the Old Gold quickly resumed their assault on the home goal. On 26 minutes Matthew Thomas won possession off a defender then sped into the penalty area only to see his crisp angled strike fly narrowly too high. Then after 33 minutes Liam Thomas, with a precision pass from midfield, created a fine opening for Kyle Williams but his smart 25 yard drive slid just wide of the post.
However in the 41st minute Town restored their two-goal advantage – substitute Liam Griffiths took the ball off a hesitant defender and instantly dispatched a spectacular 30 yard shot that left the net bulging and Martin floundering.
After the interval, at which time Town fans saw new signing Liam Walsh (from Wrexham) making his first appearance, the same open pattern of play soon resumed with both sides seeking to break forward at every opportunity. The first notable chance arose on 52 minutes when Idzi’s huge clearance reached Liam Thomas and he headed the ball on to Kostya Georgievsky who raced clear into the penalty area – but Martin was quickly down to smother the winger’s 10 yard effort.
Goytre responded immediately with Tom Walters gathering a long through ball then hitting a powerful angled drive that Idzi resisted with a marvellous reflex save. Yet the Old Gold soon increased their lead when in the 57th minute Georgievsky once more broke through the home defence and into the penalty area only to fall under Martin’s challenge – from the resultant spot-kick Liam Thomas confidently drove the ball into the corner of the net.
Thomas was again involved on 60 minutes when he neatly side-stepped two defenders before firing the ball across the goalmouth where Georgievsky stabbed it marginally wide of the post. Then after 75 minutes Williams made a lightning break along the right-wing before crossing the ball into the penalty area – while this was blocked by a defender, the ball fell nicely for Griffiths who struck a 20 yard shot that Martin claimed with a smart full-length save.
Moments later Liam Thomas, enjoying a particularly productive match, cut inside from the left-wing and from the corner of the penalty area released a fierce angled drive that a defender managed to deflect just past the post. From the ensuing corner Williams found Luke Cummings in the packed goalmouth but his close-range header went fractionally too high.
However the final notable action of the game, on 87 minutes, saw United striker Jandir Zola produce a powerful 30 yard strike that defeated Idzi’s flying save but flew narrowly wide of the target.
Given that missing today from Town’s squad were four key players (Lee Surman, Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan and Lewis Harling) who undoubtedly/hopefully will play a significant role in the season ahead, this was a very encouraging performance against a strong Welsh League side.
Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan; Dave Vincent; Craig Hanford; Jordan Knott; Kyle Williams (sub Danny Thomas 88); Luke Cummings; Danny Thomas (Liam Walsh 46); Kostya Georgievsky; Liam Thomas; Matthew Thomas (sub Liam Griffiths 35);
Goals: Danny Thomas (4); Matthew Thomas (10); Liam Griffiths (41); Liam Thomas (57);
Afan Lido 1-3 Carmarthen Town 26 July 2017
Carmarthen secured their fifth victory from five pre-season fixtures in this entertaining and competitive encounter with Welsh League side Afan Lido who presented the Old Gold with their sternest challenge so far – and they managed this without their two most prolific goal-scorers of this programme, Matthew and Liam Thomas.
Under the sole guidance of manager and coach for the night, Craig Hanford, Town made a promising start and fashioned the first notable chance after only 3 minutes when Liam Griffiths, inside the centre-circle, intercepted a defender’s weak pass and swiftly took the ball forward before releasing a fierce 30 yard drive that flew just narrowly over the bar.
But the fierce blustery wind that was sweeping down the length of the pitch in the home side’s favour soon proved beneficial – after 9 minutes a long clearance out of their defence was carried beyond the Old Gold’s back-line leaving Josh Webber free to race forward to the corner of the penalty area and as ‘keeper Lee Idzi rushed forward in an ambitious attempt to claim the ball the winger cleverly fired it past him and into the empty net.
Moments later a similar scenario arose when Luke Cummings’ poor back-pass was chased by Webber towards the edge of the penalty area but this time Idzi was out of his goal quickly enough to clear the danger.
For a spell Carmarthen were struggling to make any significant progress against both the elements and a capable and uncompromising home defence – other than to deal with occasional crosses into the goalmouth, ‘keeper Stephen Hall was not seriously tested during this time.
Yet gradually the Old Gold began pressing forward with more purpose and invention, driven noticeably by the industry and vision of midfielders Ceri Morgan and Kieran Lewis – Cummings, Liam Walsh and Dan Sheehan were also influential figures in Town’s progress, while ahead of them Griffiths, Kostya Georgievsky and Tyler Brock (impressing on his first appearance after recently signing from Pontardawe Town) willingly pursued every potential scoring opportunity.
And on 32 minutes they got back on level terms – Walsh fed the ball along the right touchline to Cummings who finished a typically determined run with a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Georgievsky, arriving with perfect timing, planted his close-range header past Hall and into the roof of the net.
After the interval Carmarthen’s fans were delighted to witness the return, following a lengthy absence due to injury, of key midfielder Lewis Harling.
But it was the Welsh League side that managed the first scoring chance after just 47 minutes when former Town favourite Sacha Walters delivered a deep right-wing cross towards the far post where Webber, unmarked and from close-range, stabbed the ball over the bar.
Then in the space of just 90 seconds the Old Gold turned the game around in their favour. Now with the benefit of the strong wind behind them, Town poured forward and put the home defence under sustained pressure. And in the 51st minute they took the lead when Lewis, from the half-way line, fired the ball towards the edge of the penalty area where Griffiths controlled it well and instantly turned sharply past two defenders before lifting it over Hall and into the top corner of the net.
Then moments later another searching pass through the centre found Lewis who finished in style by dispatching a stunning 25 yard drive that flew beyond Hall’s reach and into the back of the net.
The Old Gold continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and largely dominate the midfield but they were finding it difficult to again penetrate the Afan Lido defence. Indeed the best scoring opportunity during this phase of the game arose at the other end of the pitch when on 69 minutes the hosts won a free-kick just outside the penalty area. Walters fired the ball neatly around the defensive ‘wall’ but saw Idzi produce an impressive full-length dive to turn it against the post – while Webber was quick to reach the loose ball and from close-range stab it goalwards, Town’s experienced ‘keeper managed to recover instinctively and complete a remarkable double-save by punching the ball safely away.
Town responded immediately with Cummings embarking on another surging run along the right flank to the corner of the penalty area before he drove the ball into the goalmouth where Griffiths crisply struck a close-range shot that Hall denied with a flying save.
The Old Gold, still making good use of the following wind, repeatedly poured upfield in search of more goals and they went close again after 83 minutes when Walsh saw his right-wing cross drift goalwards, defeating Hall, only to clip the bar and fall safely behind.
And finally, in the 89th minute Harling, from just outside the penalty area, rolled the ball invitingly across to Lewis who released a powerful strike that flew narrowly past the post with Hall well beaten.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Lee Surman; Dave Vincent; Dan Sheehan; Liam Walsh (sub Kyle Williams 59, sub Liam Walsh 77); Kieran Lewis; Ceri Morgan (sub Lewis Harling 46); Kostya Georgievsky (sub Ceri Morgan 81); Liam Griffiths; Tyler Brock;
Goals: Kostya Georgievsky (32); Liam Griffiths (51); Kieran Lewis (53);
Port Talbot 2-5 Carmarthen Town 29 July 2017
Carmarthen continued their successful pre-season campaign in the best possible manner, a five-goal demolition of old WPL rivals Port Talbot who, of course, are now operating in the Welsh League.
But Town, worryingly, suffered a serious setback even before the start with star goalkeeper Lee Idzi sustaining a knee injury during the pre-match warm-up and he played no part in the game. [Remarkably, this ended an 83 match unbroken sequence of appearances by Idzi in all fixtures, competitive and PSFs, since he stood down to allow James Kirkwood to make his debut in a League Cup match against Briton Ferry on September 8th 2015 – every minute of every match (including extra-time in two League Cup ties) amounting to125½ hours of football, either catching or kicking a ball or simply watching the game go by as his colleagues expended lots of energy in front of him!]
Despite its nominal title of “a pre-season friendly” fixture this match quickly developed into a typically fiercely contested local derby. And it was the Old Gold who took the early initiative with a series of sweeping attacks that kept the home defence under pressure.
Yet their first notable scoring opportunity did not arise until the 7th minute when Kieran Lewis fired a corner-kick low into the packed penalty area where Liam Thomas slid the ball across the face of the goal to find Liam Griffiths who saw his close-range effort blocked on the goal-line by ‘keeper Rory McCreesh.
For a spell the Steelmen were able to contain Town’s probing attacks at the heart of which the familiar midfield trio of Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan and Lewis Harling featured prominently – but after 19 minutes Lee Surman, one of five former Port Talbot players in Carmarthen’s team, launched a long free-kick from the half-way line deep into the penalty area to reach Griffiths and he headed the ball across to Dan Sheehan who instantly struck a fierce 15 yard drive that flew narrowly past the post.
While the Old Gold continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, the hosts were able to threaten with occasional counter-attacks usually spearheaded by former Town player Cortez Belle – Surman generally came off best in their “eagerly contested” encounters while, commendably, the defensive unit as a whole provided stand-in goalkeeper Luke Cummings with considerable protection.
Then in the 37th minute Carmarthen at last made the anticipated breakthrough which their first-half pressure had warranted. Lewis sent a corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where Tyler Brock pounced on the loose ball and stabbed it home from close-range.
Moments later they doubled their lead. A huge clearance from Cummings found Griffiths inside the centre-circle and he headed the ball on to Liam Thomas who outpaced two defenders to reach the penalty area – then from 15 yards, with his customary composure, he slid the ball neatly past McCreesh and into the corner of the net.
And in a final flourish of goal-scoring activity they effectively won the game before half-time. Morgan dispatched a long cross-field pass to the far side of the goalmouth where Brock, with some dazzling footwork, defeated his marker and then slid the ball across the face of the goal to find Griffiths who from 6 yards gratefully fired it into the net.
After the interval the Welsh League side began with more purpose and following a short spell of pressure they reduced the deficit on 48 minutes – from a corner-kick the ball reached Jack Hurley who drilled a 12 yard shot through a crowd of players and beyond the reach of the undoubtedly unsighted Cummings.
The Old Gold reacted positively and immediately swept forward as Liam Thomas raced down the left-wing then played the ball on to Harling who from the by-line fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Griffiths set up a fine chance for Lewis but he saw his crisp 15 yard drive blocked on the goal-line by McCreesh.
Soon the match developed into a far more open and evenly-balanced affair than before. Port Talbot were pressing forward more often although without making meaningful progress against the visitors’ resilient and well-organised defence – while Cummings was called on to deal with a few crosses, he accomplished that with ease and also confidently produced a couple of routine saves.
But midway through this half the Old Gold again began to dominate proceedings. After long-range shots by Liam Thomas and Griffiths had both been deflected narrowly wide of the goal by defenders, Liam Walsh, on 75 minutes, finished a determined run along the right flank before delivering a deep cross to the far post where Matthew Thomas rose high above his marker only to see his looping header clip the bar and finish on the roof of the net.
Shortly afterwards, Cummings drove a long clearance beyond the half-way line where Griffiths deftly headed the ball on to Matthew Thomas who released a stunning 25 yard volley that McCreesh, with a flying save, turned over the bar. From the ensuing corner Lewis sent the ball into the packed goalmouth where Liam Thomas directed his close-range header narrowly too high.
Yet on 79 minutes Town secured the goal they had been threatening. Cummings began a sweeping move from one end of the pitch to the other when he threw the ball out to Sheehan who fired it long towards Matthew Thomas on the edge of the penalty area – he immediately slid a fine pass across to Griffiths (who has become increasingly productive during this pre-season programme) and he struck a 15 yard drive that left McCreesh well beaten.
And moments later the Old Gold went further ahead. Brock, looking particularly comfortable and assured on the ball in only his second appearance, produced a searching cross from the right touchline that found Matthew Thomas who, in an instant, controlled the ball and swept it home from close-range.
Still the visitors pressed forward and in the 85th minute Surman, from the half-way line, threaded the ball through to Matthew Thomas on the edge of the penalty area and he in turn played it across to namesake Liam who saw his fierce strike fly marginally outside the post.
But in the final minute the home side managed to reduce the deficit, but only with help from the unfortunate Surman. Clearly tiring, he lost possession near the centre-circle to allow Sean James to race forward and, noticing Cummings out of his goal, from 30 yards he cleverly lobbed the ball over the stranded stand-in ‘keeper and into the roof of the net.
Luke Cummings; Dan Sheehan; Lee Surman; Craig Hanford; Jordan Knott (sub Tyler Brock 76); Lewis Harling (sub Liam Walsh 62); Ceri Morgan: Kieran Lewis; Tyler Brock (sub Matthew Thomas 62, sub Jordan Knott 87); Liam Thomas; Liam Griffiths;
Goals: Tyler Brock (37); Liam Thomas (38); Liam Griffiths (45, 81); Matthew Thomas (83);
Cardiff Met 0-0 Carmarthen Town 5 August 2017
Carmarthen concluded their pre-season programme with this visit to Welsh Premier League rivals Cardiff Met for what proved to be a competitive, but mostly rather lacklustre, game of few decent scoring chances between two quite evenly-matched sides.
Last season there was virtually nothing to choose between these two teams – after their 32 match Welsh Premier League schedule they were separated by only three points, while in their four fixtures together they each secured five points. And on the evidence of this pre-season friendly little, if anything, has changed.
During the early stages the play was largely confined to the midfield area with both sides enjoying their fair share of possession but failing to make any meaningful forward progress or, in particular, seriously trouble the opposing defence.
For the Old Gold the now well-established central defensive pairing of Lee Surman and Dave Vincent were in commanding form, while versatile full-backs Dan Sheehan and Jordan Knott gave them valuable support on the flanks. And directly ahead of them, industrious midfielders Luke Cummings, Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan and Lewis Harling eagerly provided a further beneficial layer of defensive support whenever necessary.
However at last, after 22 minutes, Town fashioned the first notable scoring chance of the match. Knott delivered a long throw into the crowded penalty area and found Liam Thomas who turned sharply past his marker then struck a 15 yard volley that flew narrowly over the bar.
Then following another spell of midfield attrition the Met finally got a sight of the visitors’ goal on 38 minutes – Josh Barnett took the ball forward from the centre-circle before firing a speculative 30 yard shot that Scott Coughlan, deputising in goal for Lee Idzi who was still absent following last week’s injury, gathered comfortably.
And in the 45th minute the closing action of a relatively barren first-half arose when Cummings made a typically determined run along the right-wing before driving a low cross into the penalty area where Liam Griffiths, under pressure from defenders, steered the ball just wide of the post.
By contrast, after the interval there was early goalmouth action from both sides. On 47 minutes, following a corner-kick, Eliot Evans fired a right-wing cross into the packed goalmouth where Coughlan went down bravely amongst opponents’ feet and managed to kick the ball clear from directly in front of his goal.
The Old Gold soon responded when on 51 minutes Sheehan produced a long throw into the penalty area and while the ball was cleared, it fell nicely for Lewis who from 20 yards hit a crisp angled drive that went marginally too high.
Moments later the hosts once more posed a threat when Joel Edwards finished a strong run down the left-wing with a searching cross into the goalmouth only for Kyle McCarthy to stab the ball wide of the post.
Belatedly, by the mid-point of the second-half the game began opening up with both sides playing with more pace and purpose, and with a much more competitive edge, as the play switched quickly from end-to-end. But still Town were creating the better scoring chances and in the 63rd minute they went close to taking the lead. Harling threaded a fine ball through to Cummings just inside the penalty area and he, in turn, slid a short angled pass across to substitute Tyler Brock who saw his smart close-range effort deflected narrowly outside the post by a defender.
Then on 75 minutes Cummings sent a corner into the congested goalmouth where Vincent rose high above surrounding defenders but directed his close-range header just over the bar. Soon afterwards the Old Gold threatened again with Sheehan firing a right-wing cross deep into the penalty area but saw Brock, from 8 yards, send his looping header marginally off-target.
The Met managed a late response after 86 minutes when Harry Owen embarked on a powerful run down the left wing then neatly cut inside evading two challenges to reach the corner of the penalty area but spoilt his good work by firing the ball wide of the goal from a good position.
Yet in the 90th minute Town had an even better opportunity to snatch victory. Coughlan launched a huge clearance upfield which Kostya Georgievsky, in plenty of space, enthusiastically chased – he took the ball forward into the penalty area only to be tripped by a defender resulting in the referee immediately awarding a spot-kick. With Carmarthen’s regular penalty-taker, top goalscorer Liam Thomas, sitting in the dug-out having been substituted at half-time, Cummings (either through choice or coercion!) stepped up but while he drove the ball beyond the ‘keeper’s reach, sadly it slid wide of the post.
The Old Gold now turn to the very much more important business of the WPL – their first fixture is next Saturday (August 12th k/o 2.30pm) when they make the long journey up to Llandudno where last season they suffered a disappointing defeat.
Scott Coughlan; Dan Sheehan (sub Liam Walsh 82); Lee Surman; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott; Luke Cummings; Ceri Morgan; Kieran Lewis (sub Kyle Williams 72); Lewis Harling; Liam Griffiths (sub Tyler Brock 60); Liam Thomas (sub Kostya Georgievsky 46);