SINCE these two teams have been sitting at opposite ends of the Welsh Premier League table all this season, Carmarthen can be satisfied with having shut-out free-scoring City to secure a welcome share of the points – but their current position, well adrift at the bottom of the League, means that only victories can really make a difference. And, sadly, at hardly any point during this contest did that seem to be a likely outcome.
From the start the visitors took the initiative, monopolising possession and keeping the Old Gold defence under pressure but despite constant probing, with experienced midfielder Gary Taylor-Fletcher usually at the heart of the action, they were unable to make an early breakthrough – central defenders Dave Vincent and Jordan Knott were looking particularly sound and secure, while ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested during this early spell.
In fact the first genuine scoring opportunity, on 11 minutes, arose at the other end of the pitch. Kyle Bassett’s corner into the packed goalmouth was met by Vincent rising highest amongst defenders but he saw his promising close-range header denied by ‘keeper Matthew Hall with a stunning reflex save.
It was not until the 20th minute that City managed to penetrate the home defence in any meaningful way – Taylor-Fletcher played a fine pass through to Braydon Shaw just inside the penalty area but his crisp 15 yard strike was expertly turned aside by Idzi.
Gradually the match began to open up with Carmarthen showing greater attacking intent with more frequent breaks out of defence – yet all too often Liam Thomas was an isolated figure upfield outnumbered by City defenders and, again, no realistic scoring chances emerged.
However after 34 minutes there was a welcome burst of goalmouth activity. Dean Rittenberg burst into the penalty area then struck a low drive that Idzi smartly blocked – the Bangor striker instantly hit a follow-up strike that Vincent steered behind the goal. Then moments later Rittenberg, from 30 yards, produced a marvellous curling shot that Town’s experienced ‘keeper resisted with a spectacular full-length save.
Yet the Old Gold responded quickly and on 38 minutes another Bassett corner reached Ceri Morgan who saw his ambitious diving header fly narrowly over the bar.
For a lengthy spell after the interval neither side was able to make any meaningful progress going forward as both defences comfortably resisted the intermittent pressure that they faced. Yet in the 67th minute City finally managed a scoring opportunity to liven up proceedings – Taylor-Fletcher, on the edge of the penalty area, sent a fine pass through to Luke Wall but with defenders nearby he wastefully stabbed the ball wide from close range.
Moments later Taylor-Fletcher was again involved when from the corner of the penalty area he struck a fierce drive that Idzi resisted with a smart reaction save. And this brief period of Bangor attacking activity ended on 72 minutes with Rittenberg playing the ball wide to Laurence Wilson who saw his sharp angled strike impressively turned aside by the ever reliable ‘keeper.
The Old Gold, to their credit, reacted positively after that spell under pressure and, albeit belatedly, spent the final stages of the match launching a series of raids in search of a late goal – in particular Bassett, with his searing pace and strength on the ball, produced several typically powerful runs from his own half to stretch the visitors’ defence but, disappointingly, there was no successful end product and the game finished goal-less.
Town now look forward to their attractive festive double-header against old rivals Aberystwyth with matches at Richmond Park on Boxing Day and at Park Avenue on New Year’s Day (both matches kick-off at 2.30pm). With the end of the WPL first-phase programme fast approaching, six points from these two games would be highly valuable if Carmarthen are to lift themselves out of the relegation zone before the end of the season.
Team: Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott; Dan Sheehan; Craig Hanford; Liam Walsh; Kieran Lewis; Ceri Morgan; Kyle Bassett; Liam Thomas;
Unused subs: Kostya Georgievsky; Tyler Brock; Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;
Cards: (Y) Kieran Lewis (82);