CARMARTHEN recognised the opening of their long-awaited new 3G surface at Richmond Park with this friendly fixture against Welsh League side Cwmamman United but overall it was hardly an exhibition of sparkling, celebration football befitting the occasion despite Town fielding a very strong side against a team that currently lies in the lower half of WL Division One.
However the Old Gold began promisingly as they enjoyed a lengthy spell of pressure, virtually camped in the visitors’ half albeit without managing any initial serious goal threat. Then at last, on 12 minutes, they went close to taking the lead – a Kieran Lewis corner found Liam Thomas who, from 15 yards, struck a fierce volley that ‘keeper Rob Jones turned away with a smart save.
Then after 18 minutes Lewis received the ball just inside the penalty area and dispatched a crisp angled drive that Jones kicked away to safety. Moments later another corner from Lewis was met by Thomas, rising high above defenders, but his header flew narrowly over the bar.
Almost immediately, Town’s influential midfielder set up another chance when he played a fine pass through to Thomas who raced into the penalty area then drove the ball across the face of the goal where Tyler Brock cleanly struck a close-range shot that was blocked on the goal-line by a defender. And to round off this frenetic sequence of goalmouth activity, on 25 minutes Thomas timed his run perfectly to reach yet another corner from Lewis only to see his 10 yard header graze the top of the bar and land safely behind.
Yet during that spell of Old Gold ascendancy Cwmamman had managed, with worrying ease, to pierce the home defence a couple of times with fast counter-attacks along the wings, spoilt only by poor finishing – and when the visitors broke forward again on 35 minutes Carmarthen were made to regret their own profligacy in front of goal. A slick passing move through the centre channel sliced open the Town defence and finished with Ryan Thomas running clear into the penalty area and from 6 yards he slid the ball past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.
The Old Gold, shaken by that setback, went in search of an equaliser and were close on 40 minutes when a neat interchange of passes between Lewis, Kyle Williams and Thomas finished with Brock releasing a close-range angled strike that Jones, with a fine reaction save, turned over the bar.
However in the 42nd minute Town eventually found success – but they needed significant help from the opposition defence to achieve it. A hopeless back-pass from a defender was easily intercepted by Kostya Georgievsky who raced forward to the edge of the penalty area then dispatched a rasping drive beyond the ‘keepers’ reach and into the back of the net.
After the interval Carmarthen wasted no time in taking the lead – within 90 seconds of the start they had forced a corner and from Lewis’ perfect delivery Lee Surman powered his header home from close range.
But rather than herald a period of dominance by the Old Gold, that goal served to inspire United into greater effort and urgency as they sought to restore parity.
Although for a lengthy spell the play was fairly evenly balanced with no serious goalmouth action at either end of the pitch, increasingly the WL side were stretching the home defence – and eventually on 66 minutes a piercing pass found Ryan Hurlow sprinting into the penalty area where he struck a 15 yard shot only to be denied by Idzi, racing quickly out of his goal, who produced a stunning reflex save.
Cwmamman continued to threaten with fast, determined breaks from midfield but without success until at last, in the 88th minute, Town’s defence was breached as they failed to deal with a left-wing cross deep into the goalmouth where Hurlow was well placed to stab the ball past substitute ‘keeper Stephen Hall and into the net – a just reward for the visitors’ spirit and persistence.
The Old Gold, however, were simply left to reflect on their failure to capitalise on their early pressure and scoring opportunities, due as much to poor finishing as outstanding defending by the WL side.
Carmarthen now look forward to their first competitive fixture on the new 3G surface next Saturday 30th September (k/o 2.30pm) when they face Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints, no strangers to such a surface – that should be a real test for the Old Gold.
Team: Lee Idzi (Stephen Hall 78), Dan Sheehan, Dave Vincent (Ryan Foschi 57), Lee Surman, Jordan Knott, Kieran Lewis, Lewis Harling, Kyle Williams, Tyler Brock, Liam Thomas, Kostya Georgievsky.
Goals: Kostya Georgievsky (42), Lee Surman (47).