Welcome back Sean

 

Carmarthen Town AFC are delighted to announce that Sean Cresser is to become our new Academy Director. Sean is to begin his role immediately, and over the next few weeks will be working on meeting his new staff before introducing himself to our players and parents. 

Jeff Thomas Club Director said “ Sean is a Carmarthen Town enthusiast through and through having played for the Club from the age of 11 years. He has previously coached at our Academy and honed his coaching experience as a successful manager of Haverfordwest’s 1st Team.
He will bring commitment and enthusiasm to the role and I’m confident that his personable manner will make it an enjoyable experience for all”

Sean commented  ‘Delighted to be back working at my home town club and looking forward to the opportunity of working alongside other talented staff at the academy, helping them to develop the fantastic local talent, that already exists at Carmarthen Town AFC.

Accompanying Sean will be our new Academy Administrator Rhian Jones. Rhian also brings many years of experience and will be an excellent addition to our club staff. 

 

Croeso ‘ nol i Sean Cresser

Mae CPD Caerfyrddin yn falch iawn i gyhoeddi bod Sean Cresser wedi cytuno i gymryd y rôl fel Cyfarwyddwr yr Academi'r clwb Bydd yn dechrau ar ei swydd yn syth ac yn ystod yr wythnosau nesaf yn cyfarwyddo ei hunan gyda’r staff cyn cyflwyno ei hun i'r chwaraewyr a’u rhieni.

Yn ôl Jeff Thomas, un o gyfarwyddwyr y clwb, ‘ un o fois CPD Caerfyrddin yw Sean ers iddo ddechrau chwarae i’r clwb yn 11 mlwydd oed. Mae eisoes wedi bod yn hyfforddi yn yr Academi ac wedi ehangu ei sgiliau a’i brofiadau fel rheolwr llwyddiannus Hwlffordd yn y Welsh League. Mae’n ddyn sy’n llawn brwdfrydedd am bêl-droed ac rwy’n hyderus bod ei natur ddymunol yn mynd sicrhau bod pawb yn mwynhau eu profiadau oddi fewn yr Academi.’ 

‘Rwy’n hapus iawn i ddychwelyd i Gaerfyrddin fel Cyfarwyddwr yr Academi ac yn awyddus i gyd weithio gyda’r staff ymroddedig sydd yma’n barod. Mae’n gyfle gwych i gael datblygu’r dalent sydd ym.’ oedd sylw Sean ar ôl ei benodi.

I’w gynorthwyo mae Rhian Jones, sy’n meddu ar brofiad helaeth mewn gweinyddu yn y byd pêl-droed, wedi ei phenodi fel Gweinyddwraig yr Academi. Croesi iddi hi hefyd i’w rôl newydd. 

 

WPL Matchday 22

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Connah’s Quay Nomads (12 January 2019)   

 

Carmarthen Town (3)  Connah’s Quay Nomads (2)   

Carmarthen turned the “form book” upside down with this sensational victory over a strong Connah’s Quay side that went into this match at the top of the Welsh Premier League, having won five of their last six matches and scoring 22 goals in the process – after this result they drop to third place.

And the Old Gold achieved this success the hard way, having twice come back from being a goal down and then scoring the winning goal in the 4thminute of added time at the end of the match.

Yet in the opening stages of the match the Nomads looked like a team that had spent all season at or close to the League summit as they largely monopolised possession and continually probed the Town defence with a series of well-crafted attacks.  However manager Neil Smothers had clearly planned for this eventuality by setting up a formidable five-man defence which, with frequent support from industrious midfielders Greg Walters and Ceri Morgan, initially dealt comfortably with that pressure.

Indeed it was not until the 7thminute that the visitors managed a scoring effort of any significance – following a corner-kick the ball reached Callum Morris who, from the edge of the penalty area, struck an angled drive that ‘keeper Lee Idzi carefully watched fly just wide of the near post. 

Gradually the Old Gold began showing a little more adventure with some occasional counter-attacks but all too often striker Luke Bowen was an isolated figure upfield and unable to make any real impression on the visitors’ defence – certainly no notable scoring opportunities emerged. 

Meanwhile Town’s defence was coming under increasing pressure as Connah's Quay continued with a series of penetrating attacks.  And, at last, in the 19thminute they took the lead when Michael Bakare, from wide on the right flank, fired a free-kick low into the packed goalmouth where Idzi and several defenders seemed slow to react to the danger and allowed the ball to slip into the goal at the near post. 

Then on 23 minutes the Nomads went close to increasing their lead when Rob Hughes, on the left-wing, sent an inviting cross into the crowded penalty area only for George Horan to direct his close-range header narrowly over the bar.

But shortly afterwards Carmarthen at long last managed a meaningful attack when a slick series of passes along the left flank finished with Aidan O’Kelly sprinting dangerously into the opposition penalty area and while that move eventually broke down, it heralded a spell of more positive attacking play from the hosts.

After 35 minutes Luke Cummings, from near the right touchline, delivered a free-kick into the goalmouth and although the ball was cleared by a defender, it went straight to Walters who instantly dispatched a smart 20 yard volley that ‘keeper John Danby was well-placed to claim.

Then on 41 minutes Cummings himself went close to scoring a remarkable goal – from deep inside his own half he burst forward beyond the half-way line then, noticing that Danby was standing well out of his goal area, Town’s adventurous defender launched an audacious 40 yard shot that sailed over the ‘keeper as he anxiously raced back towards his goal only for the ball to land on the roof of the net.

    

After the interval Connah's Quay once more took the early initiative and kept the home defence under pressure with a stream of rapid attacks – but on 54 minutes the Old Gold produced a delightful sweeping counter-attack that ended with an equalising goal.  The ball was cleared from the Town penalty area and reached Morgan who threaded a sublime pass through to Walters – he sprinted forward from the half-way line to reach the edge of the penalty area before finishing in clinical fashion with a rasping drive that flew past Danby and into the back of the net.

Yet, sadly, that recovery was fairly short-lived.  After 70 minutes Bakare, who throughout the match had been a constant threat with his strong running and smart footwork, raced powerfully along the left-wing then sent a searching cross into the into the goalmouth where Callum Morris stabbed the ball beyond Idzi’s reach and into the home goal.

But Carmarthen reacted positively to this crushing setback and once again counter-attacked with urgency and a refreshing freedom as they sought to get back on level terms.  Initially there was an evenly-balanced period of fast end-to-end play – but gradually, and for the first time in the match, the Nomads defence came under noticeable pressure as Town intensified their efforts.

And in the 83rdminute they deservedly achieved their aim.  Having won a free-kick just outside the penalty area, Cummings demonstrated impressive accuracy in firing the ball over the defensive ‘wall’ and into the corner of the net to leave Danby well beaten. 

Connah's Quay, stung by that setback, immediately swarmed upfield in search of the goal that would preserve their place at the top of the WPL.  Now the Old Gold defence was again under considerable pressure and their prospects of resisting that outcome were seriously weakened on 87 minutes when central defender Lewis Baldwin was sent-off after having been shown two yellow cards in the space of just 2 minutes.

Shortly after that incident the 4thOfficial indicated that 5 minutes of added time would be played – the home crowd almost certainly regarded that as a further setback to Town’s prospects of safeguarding the precious point they had worked hard to secure.

Their players, however, evidently held a different view – they saw it more as an opportunity.

In the 4thminute of added time, having been forced to defend deep inside their penalty area, Lee Surman’s headed clearance was claimed by Liam Thomas who sprinted forward to the half-way line, passing two opponents in the process, then played the ball on to Dwayne Coultress – he raced further onwards before sliding a delightful pass across the face of the penalty area where Thomas, typically alert to the unfolding scoring opportunity, had continued his run to make a timely arrival. He then moved into the penalty area and was promptly brought down by defender George Horan.

Town’s all-time top goal-scorer, almost certainly the only calm and confident person at Richmond Park at that particular moment, stepped up and with his usual accuracy drove the spot-kick past Danby and into the back of the net to secure a stunning victory over the WPL leaders.  Additionally, these vital three points take the Old Gold a little further away from the clubs currently occupying the relegation places.

This concludes the WPL first-phase programme.  The second-phase fixtures commence on the first week-end of February but in the meantime Carmarthen’s next fixture is a Welsh Cup tie at Richmond Park on Saturday January 26th(k/o 2.30pm) against Connah's Quay!  Town have no match next week-end.     

  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Lewis Baldwin;  Dave Vincent (sub Jay Woodford 68);  Lee Surman; Aidan O’Kelly (sub Craig Hanford 76); Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan;  Jordan Vickers (sub Dwayne Coultress 74);  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;  

                                                                                                                                          

Unused Subs:  Sean Hanbury;   Danny Thomas;

Goals:  Greg Walters (54);  Luke Cummings (83);  Liam Thomas (pen) (90+4);     

Cards:  (R)  Lewis Baldwin (87);  

             

(Y)  Greg Walters (45+1);  Dave Vincent (49);  Ceri Morgan (72);  

Liam Thomas (90+5);  Lee Idzi (90+6);            

 

 

 

WPL Matchday 21

Match Report – Caernarfon v Carmarthen Town (5 January 2019)   

 

Caernarfon (3)  Carmarthen Town (1)   

Any expectation, or even hope, that Carmarthen’s stunning display of attacking football in their last match against Llanelli would herald a welcome and dramatic improvement in their performances over the rest of this season were, sadly, soon dispelled by their largely disappointing play in this match – for having taken the lead through a Liam Thomas penalty midway during the first-half, they were soon overwhelmed by Caernarfon’s fast, incisive movement on and off the ball coupled with some clinical finishing.

Town fielded much the same starting line-up as appeared in that last match although notable absences were Dave Vincent (suspended) and Jordan Knott (injured), both of whom have been key performers in the defensive back-line this season.

In the opening stages the match was quite evenly balanced and confined essentially to midfield exchanges – both sides managed occasional bursts forward that tested, but failed to penetrate, the opposition defence in any meaningful way and neither goal-keeper was called into serious action.

For the Old Gold the well-established midfield trio of Mael Davies, Ceri Morgan and Greg Walters worked tirelessly to provide an additional valuable defensive shield just ahead of the back-line while, whenever possible, enthusiastically breaking quickly forward to initiate counter-attacks for principal strikers Liam Thomas and Luke Bowen to exploit – adventurous full-back Luke Cummings eagerly provided a further attacking outlet.

It was not until the 23rdminute that the first significant scoring opportunity arose.  Caernarfon’s Darren Thomas produced a swift break through the centre before sliding the ball across to Nathan Craig on the edge of the penalty area – he dispatched a powerful drive that Lee Surman blocked but the ball rebounded straight back to Craig who from 15 yards instantly fired another smart shot that went just wide of the post.

As the pace of the game began to quicken the Old Gold at last managed a serious goal threat on 25 minutes when Walters sent a delightful pass through to Davies who raced forward and took the ball into the penalty area where he was promptly tripped by Ryan Williams – top scorer Thomas stepped up and confidently drove the spot-kick past ‘keeper Alex Ramsay and into the back of the net.

The home side immediately poured upfield in search of an early equaliser and they dominated this period of play.  Yet they were simply unable to pierce the Town defence, which was being well-marshalled by the experienced Surman who was once again in commanding form.

Indeed it was the visitors, after 39 minutes, who created the next significant scoring chance from a rare counter-attack – Davies, who in his debut season has consistently been an impressive creative presence in Carmarthen’s midfield, threaded a neat pass through to Walters who took the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area then produced a promising curling shot that Ramsay, with a marvellous flying save, managed to turn narrowly beyond the post.

But in the 43rdminute Caernarfon’s sustained pressure was at last rewarded – Darren Thomas raced forward along the right flank, went past Craig Hanford and into the penalty area then drove the ball towards the goalmouth where Cai Jones slid it into the net.

After the interval the hosts straightaway put the Old Gold defence under renewed pressure.  Yet while a number of decent scoring chances emerged, initially none succeeded due to a combination of some resolute (and sometimes desperate) defending and, on several occasions, secure handling from the experienced Idzi in dealing with both shots and crosses.

However at last, on 69 minutes, Caernarfon justifiably took the lead when Craig, from 25 yards, dispatched a fiercely driven free-kick beyond Idzi’s reach and into the back of the net.

Perhaps shaken by that setback, Town’s performance seemed to deteriorate over the latter stages of the match.  Failings that appeared to have been eradicated with the remarkable victory over Llanelli on New Year’s Day sadly re-emerged – in particular, the ball was needlessly given away too often and too easily.

And in the 84thminute that led to the hosts putting the result beyond doubt with a third goal.  Substitute Jordan Vickers, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, lost possession deep inside his own half to Darren Thomas who then worked his way across the edge of the penalty area, with little resistance from other Town defenders, before releasing a stunning drive that flew past Idzi and into the corner of the net.

It was a long and miserable journey home from North Wales for the loyal group of supporters who had, on the basis of the Llanelli victory, hoped for a much better performance!        

Only one fixture now remains for Carmarthen in the Welsh Premier League first-phase programme – they face Connah's Quay, who have been at or close to the top of the League table all season, at Richmond Park next Saturday January 12thk/o 7.30pm.     

                                                       

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings (sub Jordan Vickers 81);  Lewis Baldwin;  Lee Surman;  Craig Hanford (sub Declan Carroll 72);  Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan;  Greg Walters;  Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;  Sean Hanbury (sub Aidan O’Kelly 62); 

Unused Subs:  Danny Thomas;  Neil Smothers;   

Goal:  Liam Thomas (pen) (26);     

Cards:  (Y)  Lewis Baldwin (39);  Mael Davies (80);  

WPL Matchday 20

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Llanelli (1 January 2019)  

 

Carmarthen Town (2)  Llanelli (0)    

What a difference a New Year makes – after Carmarthen’s deeply disappointing performance at Llanelli on Boxing Day, for this festive holiday reverse fixture they thrilled their supporters by producing a brand of possession football laced with exhilarating fast attacking play that has rarely been seen in recent seasons. 

The Old Gold took the initiative from the start with a series of rapid penetrating bursts from midfield that seriously tested the visitors’ defence.  And after 3 minutes a sequence of crisp passes across the field finished with Sean Hanbury firing a searching left-wing cross into the goalmouth where Greg Walters’ close-range shot was blocked in front of the goal before the ball was cleared safely away.

Then following a further spell of sustained pressure Town took the lead in the 8thminute with a well-executed set-piece finish – Hanbury delivered a fine corner-kick into the crowded penalty area and saw Luke Bowen, arriving with perfect timing to direct a delightful glancing header into the bottom corner of the net.

Carmarthen continued to dominate the play and remarkably it was only after the 19thminute that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was first called into any meaningful action when he easily claimed an over-hit cross.

However his opposite number, Llanelli’s Oliver Davies, was far busier as the Old Gold poured forward relentlessly.  On 22 minutes industrious midfielder Ceri Morgan won the ball off a defender near the corner of the penalty area then slid it forward to Walters – he instantly played it across to Bowen who from 15 yards struck a fierce angled drive that Davies resisted with a superb reflex save.

Moments later Luke Cummings, from the corner of the penalty area, curled a dangerous free-kick towards the far corner of the goal only for Davies to claw the ball away just as Dave Vincent seemed likely to tap it into the net.

With the significant business of the match being largely conducted in the visitors’ half, it was not until the 35thminute that they managed to get a shot on target – a cross from Chris Jones into the penalty area was cleared but the ball fell nicely for Jamie Owen who wasted the opportunity by directing a weak 20 yard effort straight at Idzi which he comfortably saved.

Shortly afterwards they forced Idzi into further action.  Jordan Follows sent a fine pass through to Michael George who raced free into the penalty area only for Town’s experienced ‘keeper to come quickly out of his goal and clear the danger.

Yet the final notable action of the first-half arose at the other end of the pitch.  On 44 minutes Bowen, on the right flank, neatly slid the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Walters dispatched a crisp angled strike that flew beyond Davies’ reach but slid narrowly wide of the far post.

After the interval the Old Gold again took the early initiative and went close to extending their lead on 52 minutes when a slick exchange of passes ended with Hanbury firing a cross into the goalmouth – while the ball was cleared by a defender, it was claimed by Walters who instantly released a stunning drive that defeated Davies only to fly marginally outside the post.

However moments later Town deservedly found success – from close to the half-way line Walters, an increasing influential presence in midfield, produced a remarkable long pass that set Bowen racing clear of defenders and into the penalty area where he cleverly “walked” the ball around the advancing Davies and fired it into the empty net.

Then after 68 minutes Mael Davies robbed a defender of the ball on the corner of the penalty area and swiftly fired it across the goalmouth to find Liam Thomas who struck a sharp close-range volley that drew an excellent point-blank save from Oliver Davies to turn the ball around the post.

And on 74 minutes the Old Gold continued their dominance of the proceedings when Vincent, on the half-way line, began a delightful six-man passing move that carved open the visitors’ defence and finished with Mael Davies crossing the ball into the goalmouth only for Thomas, arriving at speed, to narrowly fail to reach it for a simple tap-in chance.

By now, however, Town seemed content to simply keep possession and slow down the pace of the game. Yet in the 82ndminute veteran central defender Lee Surman made a rare excursion upfield in open play when he took the ball forward from the half-way line then played it across to Walters who released a stunning 25 yard strike that drew another excellent flying save from Oliver Davies.

And soon afterwards Aidan O’Kelly, making a welcome return after four months out with a serious injury sustained in only the second match of the season, moved down the left wing then slipped the ball across to Mael Davies who struck a rasping 30 yard drive that Llanelli’s overworked ‘keeper claimed at the foot of the post.

This welcome result not only lifts the Old Gold nine points clear of the relegation places, but also takes them up to eighth position in the Welsh Premier League.

This was a refreshing and thoroughly entertaining performance from the Old Gold – one which hopefully will be often repeated over the rest of this season.  

      

Town’s next fixture is on Saturday January 5th(k/o 2.30pm) when must travel to Caernarfon for what will undoubtedly be a stern challenge – but they now go there with increased hope.

[Note: Liam Thomas has now reached a total of 184 WPL appearances for Carmarthen since his debut on 18thAugust 2012 against Aberystwyth and now moves up to 2ndplace in the all-time list of Town players, having overtaken David Barnhouse.  Only Paul Fowler is ahead of him with 199 appearances, a figure that Liam could possibly surpass, form and fitness permitting, early next season.]

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings (sub Jordan Vickers 88);  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman;  Jordan Knott (sub Craig Hanford 46);  Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan;  Greg Walters;  Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;  Sean Hanbury (sub Aidan O’Kelly 78); 

Unused Subs:  Declan Carroll;  Lewis Baldwin;   

Goals:   Luke Bowen (8, 54);  

Cards:  (Y)   Craig Hanford (84);

 

WPL Matchday 19

Match Report – Llanelli v Carmarthen Town (26 December 2018)  

 

Llanelli (1)  Carmarthen Town (1)   

Carmarthen travelled to near neighbours Llanelli to contest a WPL fixture for the first time since the 2012/13 season – and with the Old Gold going into this match six points above their opponents in the League table this presented a valuable opportunity to move even further away from the relegation zone.

But sadly, Town chose this occasion to produce one of their poorest performances of the season so far.

As early as the 1stminute Declan Carroll, well inside the Llanelli half, was easily robbed of possession by Joe Clarke and with two incisive passes the ball was fed through to James Loveridge on the left flank – he swiftly cut inside, went easily past Lewis Baldwin and Mael Davies, then from the edge of the penalty area released a crisp angled drive that went beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi but slid narrowly outside the far post.  And this set the tone for much of the rest of the match.

Then after 5 minutes a slick exchange of passes between Clarke and Chris Jones just outside the penalty area led to Michael George dispatching a smart curling shot that Idzi, with an excellent flying save, turned around the post. 

While Llanelli continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and pressed increasingly further upfield, the Old Gold struggled to make any noticeable impression going forward as all too often they gave the ball away under pressure or put it out of play with wayward or over ambitious passing.

Only once, in the 30thminute, were they able to seriously threaten the home defence.  Ceri Morgan, from the centre-circle, sent a fine pass forward to Carroll who then played the ball out to Davies on the wide edge of the penalty area – he, in turn, drove it into the crowded goalmouth where Sean Hanbury, from 6 yards and under no pressure from any defender, contrived to badly slice his shot well wide of the goal.

For the rest of the first-half Llanelli largely dominated the play but were unable again to find a way through Town’s defence at the heart of which the experienced Lee Surman was a towering presence – meanwhile Idzi, once more demonstrating assured handling whenever necessary, commanded his goal area to good effect.

After the interval, thankfully the Old Gold made a far better start as they pressed forward with more confidence and purpose – yet despite making more positive progress than earlier, they initially failed to seriously test the home defence.

However on 56 minutes they managed a genuine scoring effort – but it was wasted.  Carroll lifted a free-kick into the crowded goalmouth where it was headed clear by a defender and while the ball was claimed by Greg Walters, from 25 yards he sent it high over the bar.

After 61 minutes a further good chance was squandered.  Following smart build-up play Luke Bowen sent a decent pass across to Davies on the corner of the penalty area – he fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth but saw Liam Thomas, from a good position, plant his close-range header beyond the near post.  Moments later Walters, from wide on the right flank, delivered a fine cross into the goalmouth where Bowen, with a subtle glancing header, directed the ball narrowly over the bar.

And straightaway the visitors failed to capitalise on another golden opportunity.  Carroll sent a lofted cross deep into the penalty area where ‘keeper Oliver Davies, under pressure from Bowen, punched the ball away but only weakly – it dropped  nicely for Thomas yet Town’s all-time top scorer uncharacteristically struck his close-range angled volley well off-target. 

The Old Gold were soon made to regret their profligacy in front of goal because in the 68thminute Llanelli took the lead.  Carroll, near the right touchline, lost possession to Chris Jones who quickly slid the ball to Jordan Davies – he then delivered a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Michael George arrived with perfect timing to firmly head the ball into the roof of the net despite Idzi’s valiant attempt, at point-blank range, to turn it around the post.

On the balance of play since the start of the match, this was no more than the hosts deserved. 

And shortly afterwards they went close to extending their lead when Chris Jones moved in from the left-wing and from 25 yards struck a rasping angled drive that flew only narrowly wide of the post.

Yet on 78 minutes Carmarthen drew level thanks to an outstanding piece of clinical finishing. Thomas, from just inside the Llanelli half, sent a sublime long pass through to Bowen who was racing forward into the penalty area – the accomplished striker skilfully side-stepped defender Kurtis March and then similarly embarrassed Davies as he swiftly advanced from his goal, before sliding the ball into the empty net.

The hosts were quick to respond to this setback and moments later it seemed certain they would regain the lead.  From the wide edge of the penalty area Chris Jones fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth and saw Joe Clark produce a strong header only for Idzi, at point-blank range, to turn the ball safely over the bar with an astonishing reflex save.

Then after 84 minutes Town went close to snatching an unlikely late winning goal Luke Cummings neatly played the ball forward to Thomas who moved across the edge of the penalty area then struck a crisp drive that Davies resisted with a smart full-length save. 

While Carmarthen’s failure to win this match was disappointing, the single point secured from this result at least beneficially closes the gap, a bit, to the two teams directly ahead of them (Cefn Druids and Cardiff Met who both lost their Boxing Day fixtures) in the League table.

Hopefully the Old Gold will be on far better scoring form when they entertain Llanelli in the reverse fixture at Richmond Park on New Year’s Day (k/o 5.15pm).       

  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies; Lewis Baldwin;  Lee Surman;  Jordan Knott; Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan;  Declan Carroll (sub Jordan Vickers 83);  Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;  Sean Hanbury (sub Luke Cummings 65); 

Unused Subs:  Craig Hanford;   Jay Woodford;  Danny Thomas; 

Goal:   Luke Bowen (78);  

Cards:  (Y)   Mael Davies (43); Ceri Morgan (67);  Declan Carroll (74);  Greg Walters (85);  

WPL Matchday 18

Match Report – Newtown v Carmarthen Town (22 December 2018)  

 

Newtown (1)  Carmarthen Town (1)   

Carmarthen, anxiously hoping for a decent points return from their remaining five WPL first-phase fixtures, faced a tough encounter at Newtown who began the match in fourth place in the League, having lost just twice in their last eleven fixtures – but the Old Gold deservedly claimed a valuable share of the points after a determined and disciplined performance particularly in defence. 

In the early stages the play switched quickly from end to end – however with both defences looking quite comfortable under the intermittent pressure no notable scoring chances emerged at either end of the pitch. 

Yet gradually, as the pace of the game quickened, Newtown began to enjoy the greater share of possession and put increasing pressure on the visitors’ defence.  But they were still unable to produce any meaningful scoring opportunities largely due to the collective commanding performance of Town’s experienced and well-established back-line of Lee Surman, Dave Vincent and Jordan Knott, while directly ahead of them, industrious midfielders Mael Davies, Greg Walters, Ceri Morgan and Declan Carroll eagerly provided a further valuable layer of defensive support.  Meanwhile ‘keeper Lee Idzi confidently dominated his goal area, demonstrating safe and assured handling whenever necessary.  

During that spell the Old Gold managed several spirited counter-attacks and, in the 30th minute, following one rapid break they surprisingly took the lead.  Having forced a corner-kick, Carroll fired the ball into the packed penalty area to reach Luke Bowen who was immediately tripped by a defender– Liam Thomas stepped forward and comfortably converted the spot-kick.

Spurred by this successCarmarthen soon went close to increasing their lead with a flurry of chances.  On 37 minutes Walters, from well inside his own half, sent a fine long pass through to Bowen who swiftly moved to the corner of the penalty area then neatly slipped past his marker before dispatching a stunning volley that ‘keeper Dave Jones diverted past the post with superb reflex save.

From the resulting corner-kick Carroll’s cross into the goalmouth was met perfectly by Vincent who produced a smart close-range header that was turned over the bar by Jones with another impressive save.  Then moments later, following another corner-kick from Carroll, Thomas reacted quickest amongst a crowd of players to reach the ball only to see his promising header blocked on the goal-line by a defender.     

Having survived that further brief period of Carmarthen pressure, the Robins soon resumed their earlier territorial ascendancy with a series of probing attacks and in the 42ndminute they drew level – Callum Roberts cut inside from the left touchline then fired the ball into the penalty area where Nick Rushton reacted far quicker than any Town defender and from 6 yards produced a subtle glancing header that flew across the face of the goal, beyond Idzi’s reach, and into the far corner of the net.

Moments later Rushton once more found a worrying amount of space inside the penalty area but from 15 yards he dragged his shot just wide of the post.

After the interval the hosts again took the early initiative and went close to taking the lead on 51 minutes when from a quick break along the left flank the ball was played across to Steve Leslie on the edge of the penalty area but he saw his angled drive resisted by Idzi with an impressive full-length save.  

Shortly afterwards Alex Fletcher sent a long pass through to Rushton near the corner of the penalty area – the lively striker turned past Surman then released a rasping strike that crashed against the bar before the ball bounced safely away.

Newtown continued with a series of penetrating attacks which put the Old Gold defence under prolonged pressure.  After 63 minutes Luke Boundford received the ball on the edge of the penalty area and instantly dispatched a powerful shot that defeated Idzi’s dive but struck the foot of the post before Vincent was able to clear the danger.

Moments later Joe Kenton sent a right-wing cross into the goalmouth but saw Rushton plant his close-range header just wide of the post.  And on 73 minutes another cross from Kenton reached Neil Mitchell and he neatly set the ball up for Leslie who hit a fierce 20 yard drive that Idzi turned aside with an outstanding flying save.      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then, having spent most of the second-half inside their own half, the Old Gold went close to snatching a winning goal in the closing minutes of the game.  In the 84thminute Carroll, from near the right touchline, fired a searching free-kick into the crowded penalty area where Surman sent a close-range volley just over the bar – then, in added time, a free-kick from Carroll led to a frantic goalmouth scramble for the ball which was eventually cleared off the goal-line by a Robins’ defender. 

Overall, while Carmarthen had some decent chances to score further goals, they can be satisfied with this result which fairly reflects the overall balance of play – and crucially, this precious WPL point puts Town further ahead of the two teams, Llandudno and Llanelli who both lost their matches this day, occupying the relegation places.

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies; Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman;  Jordan Knott; Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan;  Declan Carroll;  Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;  Sean Hanbury (sub Craig Hanford 71); 

Unused Subs:  Jordan Vickers;  Lewis Baldwin;  Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas;  

Goal:  Liam Thomas (pen) (30);  

Cards:  (Y)   Greg Walters (39);  Lewis Baldwin (87);     

WPL Matchday 17 

Match Report – Carmarthen Town  v Barry Town United (14 December 2018)

Carmarthen Town (2)  Barry Town United (3)

 

Following their welcome success at Goytre in the Welsh Cup last week, Carmarthen returned to the perhaps more pressing matter of making Welsh Premier League progress as they faced a tough fixture against Barry Town United who currently occupy second place in the League table – but after 90 minutes of exhilarating end-to-end football the Old Gold suffered a narrow defeat, having been shown by the visitors the valuable lesson of clinical finishing.

From the outset the game was conducted at a frantic pace with Barry, initially, enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage – yet they were unable to penetrate the Town defence in any meaningful way and, less still, force ‘keeper Lee Idzi into serious action.

It was not until the 13thminute that United managed their first notable scoring opportunity when Troy Greening made progress along the left flank then slid a fine pass through to Chris Hugh on the corner of the penalty area – he instantly released a smart drive but saw it fly just wide of the post.

During that opening spell the Old Gold were only able to break forward on the counter-attack on a few occasions and each time they failed to trouble the visitors’ defence. But eventually after 19 minutes they went close to scoring when Declan Carroll played the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Luke Cummings neatly chipped it on towards the far post only for Sean Hanbury, from a good position, to send his close-range header wide of the goal.

From there on, while the visitors continued to generally dominate possession, Town were looking far more competitive as they frequently swarmed upfield with a series of rapid counter-attacks.  And on 22 minutes they fashioned another decent chance when Cummings delivered an inviting corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where Liam Thomas, from 10 yards, produced a promising header but saw the ball blocked on the goal-line by a defender.   

While the fast-paced, end-to-end pattern of the game continued for the rest of the first-half, the Old Gold were creating the better scoring opportunities.  After 33 minutes another Cummings corner-kick was cleared but the ball went straight to Carroll who from just outside the penalty area dispatched a fierce, angled drive that went beyond the reach of ‘keeper Mike Lewis yet slid narrowly wide of the post.

Then in the 41stminute Hanbury threaded a fine pass through to Greg Walters on the corner of the penalty area and he instantly released a rasping strike that defeated Lewis but flew just marginally beyond the far post.

And moments later Town again threatened United’s goal – Carroll’s searching corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth was met by Luke Bowen who produced a promising header only for a defender to clear the ball off the goal-line.

After the interval any disappointment that Carmarthen might have felt about their failure to convert any of their earlier chances was soon dispelled when only 2 minutes into the second-half they took the lead – a fast raid along the left touchline finished with Carroll, just inside the penalty area, firing the ball towards the goalmouth where Mael Davies arrived with perfect timing and neatly slid it across to Liam Thomas who, with his customary composure, completed this well-worked chance with a simple tap-in.

But sadly, that lead was short-lived.  On 53 minutes Jonathan Hood made a determined run along the left flank before cutting infield and, with the aid of the Town defenders’ failure to intercept, he reached the edge of the penalty area then powered a stunning drive into the back of the net leaving Idzi well beaten. 

Spurred by that success Barry swarmed forward in search of another goal and after 61 minutes they duly went ahead – a slick passing movement between Momodou Touray, Greening and Hugh just inside the penalty area opened up the Old Gold defence and finished with the lively full-back rifling a fierce shot past Idzi and into the far corner of the goal.

United immediately put the home defence under even greater pressure with a relentless series of raids that, for a spell, led to a succession of corner-kicks but, thankfully, nothing more damaging.  

Carmarthen were able to respond on only rare occasions during this period but on 81 minutes they squandered an excellent chance to draw level.   Cummings, with a fine pass, set Jordan Vickers sprinting along the right touchline – after outpacing defenders he fired an inviting cross deep into the goalmouth only to see Hanbury, from point-blank range, plant his header over the bar.

But any prospects of a recovery vanished in the 86thminute when a Barry attack was abruptly finished by Jordan Knott tripping Touray inside the penalty area – the inevitable spot-kick was comfortably dispatched by Kane McLaggon.

The Old Gold, to their credit, continued to press forward in the dying stages of the match and well into added time they managed to reduce the deficit when Vickers once again surged along the right-wing before firing a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where United defender Luke Cooper, in attempting to clear the ball, succeeded only in heading it into his own net.

But this was too little, too late and Town were left to reflect on their failure to convert any of the decent scoring chances that they had created in the first-half.

[Note:  Since Barry were promoted into the WPL last season, Carmarthen have played them on six occasions and have been defeated each time, all but once by a single-goal margin – and in the 2016/17 season we lost to them (1-0!) in the League Cup semi-final.  Thankfully it seems unlikely that we will face them again this season]

The Old Gold now have only five more fixtures before the end of the WPL first-phase programme and it has to be hoped that a reasonable points return can be secured by that stage if they are to stay well clear of the relegation places.  For their next match they travel to Newtown on Saturday December 22nd(k/o 2.30pm).       

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies;  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott;  Luke Cummings;  Greg Walters; Declan Carroll (sub Jordan Vickers 73); Liam Thomas;  Luke Bowen;  Sean Hanbury (sub Lewis Baldwin 86);   

Unused Subs:  Craig Hanford;  Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers; 

Goals:  Liam Thomas (48);  Luke Cooper (OG)(90+2) 

Cards:  (Y)  Greg Walters (45);  Declan Carroll (64);  Lee Surman (79);  Dave Vincent (85);                                              

 

Welsh Cup Round 3

Match Report – Goytre United v Carmarthen Town (8 December 2018)

Goytre United (0)  Carmarthen Town (3) – Welsh Cup (R3)

 

Carmarthen progressed to the Fourth Round of the Welsh Cup with an ultimately comfortable victory over Goytre United – but they were made to work hard for that achievement by the competitive Welsh League side and only secured success thanks to three moments of clinical finishing by experienced strikers Luke Bowen and Liam Thomas.

Yet United almost took an early lead when after only 4 minutes Joe Hopkins produced a speculative long-range shot that skidded unpredictably off the saturated turf, catching Lee Idzi by surprise and forcing the experienced ‘keeper to bundle the ball clumsily around the post.

From thereon the match quickly developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair although, with both defences looking quite secure, no further early scoring chances arose until the 16thminute when the Old Gold went ahead after a brief spell of pressure. Luke Cummings fired a searching corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Bowen arrived with perfect timing to plant his close-range header past ‘keeper Luke Martin and into the back of the net.

Goytre immediately responded with a series of spirited counter-attacks but Town’s experienced and well-established back-line of Lee Surman, Dave Vincent and Jordan Knott were, as so often in recent games, in commanding form and capably resisted any serious threat to their goal – and directly ahead of them, industrious midfielders Mael Davies, Greg Walters, Cummings and Declan Carroll eagerly provided a further valuable layer of defensive support whenever necessary.  Consequently, Idzi was never really tested again during this period.

Meanwhile Carmarthen’s strikers were always an available outlet, willingly using their pace and mobility to keep the home defenders fully occupied – and on 35 minutes they went close to extending their lead when, after a slick interchange of passes with Bowen on the edge of the penalty area, Sean Hanbury released a rasping strike that Martin, diving swiftly down at full length, resisted.

Yet in the 41stminute the Old Gold were successful.  Cummings, an increasingly influential figure in midfield, surged forward from the centre-circle before producing a sublime pass that set Thomas racing towards the penalty area and Town’s all-time top scorer completed this incisive move with his customary composure, smartly driving the ball beyond Martin’s reach and into the corner of the net.

After the interval the same pattern of end-to-end football soon emerged but the pace of the game had noticeably quickened with United pouring forward at every opportunity, clearly intent on reducing the deficit.  However the Old Gold defence again comfortably withstood that early pressure – moreover, from those positions, deep inside their own half, they were frequently able to launch rapid counter-attacks.

And on 74 minutes Carmarthen further increased their lead in just that fashion.  The ball was played out of defence to Hanbury who moved forward along the left flank before firing a long cross deep into the penalty area where Bowen, with impressive anticipation of the scoring opportunity,  created the time and space to power another close-range header into the net leaving Martin well beaten.  

Goytre, stung by that further setback, immediately swarmed upfield and soon went close to reducing the deficit when Hopkins, from 25 yards, struck a promising drive that drew a fine save from Idzi, diving low at full stretch to turn the ball around the post.

Then on 77 minutes Rhodri Cole, from near the left touchline, delivered an inviting free-kick into the packed goalmouth but saw Adam Jenkins direct his close-range header just wide of the goal.

Yet the Old Gold, with some rapid counter-attacking, were still posing a serious threat at the other end of the pitch.  After 81 minutes Walters moved in from the left-wing and, from the corner of the penalty area, released a stunning angled volley that Martin, with a spectacular flying save, turned past the far post.

And the exhilarating end-to-end pattern of play continued to the end of the match.  In the 89thminute Hanbury, enjoying possibly his best performance for Town since he joined the club at the start of this season, made ground along the left touchline then lifted a huge cross-field pass that reached Bowen on the right-wing – he, in turn, fired the ball across the goalmouth where Hanbury, having enthusiastically continued his run, sadly managed only a weak shot that Martin easily gathered.  

Then in added time at the end of 90 minutes a corner from United substitute Zac Brown reached Thomas Doidge in the goalmouth but from a good position he wastefully sent his looping header over the bar. 

This was a highly satisfactory performance by Carmarthen playing away from home against a very capable Welsh League side (that included several former WPL players in its squad), and on a pitch made increasingly difficult by poor weather conditions which was in complete contrast to the 3G surfaces which they have regularly encountered so far this season – all the ingredients for a typical Cup upset were there but, thankfully, overcome by the Old Gold.

For their next fixture Town return to League action when they entertain Barry Town United at Richmond Park on Friday December 14thk/o 7.30pm.          

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies;  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott;  Luke Cummings;  Greg Walters; Declan Carroll (sub Jay Woodford 69); Sean Hanbury;  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas (sub Jordan Vickers 78);  

Unused Subs:  Craig Hanford;  Lewis Baldwin;  Danny Thomas; 

Goals:  Luke Bowen (16, 74);  Liam Thomas (41);  

Cards:  (Y)   Sean Hanbury (90+3);    

 

 

WPL Matchday 16 

Match Report – Aberystwyth v Carmarthen Town (30 November 2018)

Aberystwyth (1)  Carmarthen Town (1)  

Having at last managed their first away victory this season at Llandudno two weeks ago, Carmarthen travelled to Aberystwyth hoping to secure three more valuable points

that would keep them clear of the Welsh Premier League relegation zone. 

But after a thoroughly entertaining display of fast-paced football these old rivals deservedly shared the points – just as they had done at Richmond Park back in September. 

Yet the Old Gold produced a remarkable opening spell of incisive attacking football and twice went close to taking an early lead.  After only 2 minutes a long pass was played forward out of defence and reached Luke Bowen beyond the centre-circle – he headed the ball on towards Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area where it was cleared by a defender but only as far as Luke Cummings who struck a stunning 20 yard drive that ‘keeper Terry McCormick, with an impressive full-length save, turned around the post. 

Then on 5 minutes Cummings was again involved when he won possession in midfield – Declan Carroll took the ball forward then fired a delightful pass into the penalty area to find Jordan Vickers who neatly side-stepped his marker before dispatching a powerful shot that McCormick punched clear with a smart reflex save.

But, having survived that early pressure, the Seasiders soon began to demonstrate why they  were the WPL’s ‘form team’, having won all of their last five matches – they soon began to dominate the midfield play and in the 10thminute they took the lead.  Following a quick break along the right flank Wes Baynes sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Declan Walker arrived with perfect timing to plant his close-range header firmly past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.

And after 20 minutes they went close to extending that lead when Ashley Ruane capitalised on Dave Vincent’s uncharacteristic hesitancy on the ball at the edge of the penalty area – the lively striker claimed possession and from 6 yards dispatched a crisp volley only to see Idzi produce a remarkable point-blank reaction save.

Aberystwyth continued to control the midfield and put the visitors’ defence under significant pressure. Yet the Old Gold’s experienced and well-established back-line of Lee Surman, Vincent and Jordan Knott were looking sound and secure and capably resisted any serious threat to their goal ensuring that Idzi was never really tested again during this spell.

While the hosts fashioned further scoring chances on only two occasions, each time they were squandered. On 23 minutes Alan Goodall claimed the ball on the edge of the penalty area but saw his fierce volley fly wide of the goal.

Then in the 30thminute Baynes, from the right touchline, sent an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Paolo Mendes, finding a worrying amount of time and space, put his close-range header over the bar.

Whatever instructions Neil Smothers gave to his players at half-time, it certainly made a huge difference since after the interval the balance of play changed significantly as the Old Gold quickly began to dominate proceedings.

On 51 minutes following a corner-kick the ball was returned to Cummings on the wide edge of the penalty area and he instantly struck a smart angled drive that flew across the packed goalmouth but went just narrowly beyond the far post.

However in the 55thminute they levelled the score.  Mael Davies made progress along the left flank before sliding a neat pass across to Carroll who quickly sent the ball on to Sean Hanbury just inside the penalty area – his attempted shot was deflected towards the far side of the goalmouth where Luke Bowen hit a promising close-range volley which was blocked by Aber defender Stefan Edwards but the referee straightaway awarded a penalty having evidently deemed that the ball had been handled.

Town top scorer Liam Thomas stepped forward and confidently drove the spot-kick into the corner of the net leaving McCormick well beaten.

Spurred by that success, the visitors poured upfield with even greater purpose and enthusiasm, driven to a notable extent by the energy and vision of midfielders Davies, Cummings and Carroll.  Yet with the Seasiders defending soundly, no clear scoring chances emerged until the 66thminute when Knott fired a long cross into the penalty area where Bowen, in space, struck a powerful volley narrowly over the bar.

The match continued in that fairly uneventful fashion with the Old Gold frequently driving forward in search of a winning goal but failing to again penetrate the resolute home defence in any meaningful way.  Meanwhile Aber managed a few occasional counter-attacks, none of which gave Carmarthen’s defence any real cause for concern.

Indeed, the only notable scoring opportunity during the closing stages arose in the 89thminute – after Carroll had launched a prodigious long throw into the crowded goalmouth the ball was played back to him and from the corner of the penalty area he immediately dispatched a stunning angled drive that McCormick, at full length, superbly turned around the post.   

So, at the end of the match both teams had to settle for just a point which, on the overall balance of play, was a fair reflection of the fluctuating nature this contest.

The Old Gold can now, temporarily, put aside their concerns about their WPL position and concentrate instead on progress in the Welsh Cup since for their next fixture on Saturday December 8th(k/o 2.30pm) they travel to Welsh League side Goytre United.

Curiously, the only other time that Carmarthen have travelled to Goytre for a competitive fixture was in the 2010/11 season, once again for a Welsh Cup Round 3 tie – Town won that match 3-2 with goals from Nick Harrhy, Darren Griffiths and Keiran Howard.  A similar result next Saturday (preferably by a more comfortable margin!) would be very welcome.   

  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies;  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott;  Declan Carroll;  Luke Cummings;  Ceri Morgan (sub Sean Hanbury 46);  Jordan Vickers (sub Craig Hanford 75);  Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;  

Unused Subs:  Lewis Baldwin;  Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas;

Goal:  Liam Thomas (pen) (55);  

Cards:  (Y)   Mael Davies (60);  

WPL Matchday 15

Match Report – Llandudno v Carmarthen Town (17 November 2018)

Llandudno (1) Carmarthen Town (2) 

Carmarthen went into this match desperately needing to take three points in order to arrest their dreadful away form this season and, at the same time, lift themselves further away from the Welsh Premier League relegation zone.  And after an impressively determined and disciplined defensive performance, frequently interspersed with moments of attacking flair, they achieved that objective.  

Yet in the initial stages the game was a decidedly scrappy affair, confined largely to unproductive midfield exchanges with neither side seemingly able to create any positive attacking momentum.

However on 6 minutes the match eventually burst into life when Luke Bowen raced forward to the wide edge of the penalty area then produced a searching cross that found Declan Carroll beyond the far post – he instantly turned past his marker and produced a sharp angled drive that was diverted past the post by a defender.  

Carroll fired the ensuing corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where the ball was cleared but only as far as Greg Walters who from 10 yards instantly struck a fierce shot that was blocked on the goal-line then safely cleared.

Llandudno soon responded with several lively attacks that put pressure on the visitors’ defence – but Town’s experienced and well-established back-line of Lee Surman, Dave Vincent and Jordan Knott were looking sound and secure and capably resisted any serious threat to their goal ensuring that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never really tested during this early spell.  Meanwhile on the right flank the more adventurous Mael Davies, alongside his defensive duties, frequently broke forward to launch incisive counter-attacks.

This period of play, absent of any notable goalmouth activity, at last abruptly ended after 22 minutes when Walters, from out wide on the left flank, fired a long-range shot that forced ‘keeper Shaun Pearson to hurriedly turn the ball over the bar. 

Yet moments later, in the 24thminute, the lively Carmarthen midfielder was far more successful – Carroll won possession off an opponent in midfield then slid a smart pass across to Bowen who straightaway set the ball up nicely for Walters and he gratefully released a stunning 25 yard drive that flew into the top corner of the net leaving Pearson well beaten.

But that advantage was sadly short-lived.  On 29 minutes, with the Old Gold defence once more under pressure, a corner was fired into their crowded penalty area where Mike Pearson sent a firm header towards the goal only for the referee to stop play and award Llandudno a penalty having harshly decided that Bowen had handled the ball when it appeared to have hit his shoulder.  Gary Taylor-Fletcher comfortably converted the spot-kick.

Spurred by that success the hosts swarmed forward with a series of attacks that stretched, but again failed to penetrate, Town’s well-organised defence.  Only once, after 42 minutes, did they fashion a decent scoring opportunity when Matty Williams sent a corner-kick into the packed goalmouth only to see Danny Hughes head the ball narrowly wide of the goal. 

After the interval Llandudno began brightly and created an early chance on 51 minutes when Toby Jones raced forward from the centre-circle then released a powerful long-range shot which Idzi, with a smart full-length save, managed to turn past the post.

The Old Gold responded positively and moments later they went close to restoring their lead when Davies fired a free-kick towards the edge of the penalty area where Jordan Vickers produced a rasping drive that flew just narrowly wide of the goal.

But increasingly Llandudno held the initiative and were looking the more likely side to score as they began to largely dominate the midfield exchanges and ensured that the game was effectively conducted in Carmarthen’s half of the field.  Town, by contrast were limited to only rare counter-attacks none of which in this spell resulted in any notable scoring threat, often due to their carelessness in giving the ball away to the opposition all too easily.

Yet the hosts were never able to capitalise on those advantages as they struggled to penetrate the Old Gold defence in any meaningful way and failed, very often due to their own poor finishing, to get a decent shot on target.  

And they were eventually made to regret those failings when in the 81stminute Carmarthen restored their lead.  Luke Cummings delivered a searching corner-kick towards the far side of the penalty area where Bowen claimed the ball then deftly chipped it back into the packed goalmouth and saw Ceri Morgan, arriving with perfect timing, joyfully plant his close-range header into the back of the net.

Llandudno urgently poured forward and put the Town defence under intense pressure in the closing minutes of the match.  On 84 minutes, following a corner-kick, a close-range shot from Jones was blocked on the goal-line by Knott and moments later a left-wing cross was met at the far post by Taylor-Fletcher but the experienced striker wastefully sent his header over the bar.  And straightaway the hosts threatened again when Jones raced to the by-line then sent an inviting cross into the crowded goalmouth where Kai Edwards, from 6 yards, blazed the ball high over the bar. 

More frantic goalmouth action ensued but the Old Gold, through further determined and sometimes desperate defending, survived to capture three valuable points which, importantly, keep them firmly in touch with the teams just ahead of them in the League table.

As there are no WPL fixtures scheduled for next week-end Carmarthen’s next match is on Friday 30thNovember (k/o 7.45pm) when they make the relatively short journey to Aberystwyth.

   

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies;  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott;  Declan Carroll (sub Luke Cummings 57);  Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan; Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 76); Liam Thomas;  Luke Bowen;  

Unused Subs:  Craig Hanford;  Jay Woodford; Neil Smothers;

Goals:  Greg Walters (24);  Ceri Morgan (81);         

Cards:  (Y)   Declan Carroll (11);  Dave Vincent (73);    

WPL Matchday 14

Match Report - Carmarthen Town v Cefn Druids (10 November 2018)    

 

Carmarthen Town (2)  Cefn Druids (3)    

After last week’s thrilling victory over Caernarfon had lifted Carmarthen out of the WPL relegation zone, this match provided Town with the perfect opportunity to rise one place further up the League table above Cefn Druids and keep in touch with the other teams ahead of them in the current ‘bottom six’ of the League.  

Yet from the start it was the visitors who took the initiative, putting the Old Gold defence under sustained pressure with a series of fast, penetrating raids.  And they went close to opening the scoring after only 2 minutes when Matty Owen sent a searching corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Arkadiusz Piskorski produced a smart close-range header that ‘keeper Lee Idzi, with a sharp reflex save, blocked on the goal-line before the ball was cleared safely away. 

Shortly afterwards the home goal was again under threat when a corner from the other flank by Ryan Kershaw landed dangerously in the goalmouth and another close-range effort was turned over the bar by Idzi with an impressive full-length save.

Town’s defenders, marshalled by the experienced Lee Surman, were generally struggling to contain the Druids’ strike-force and they needed the presence of combative midfielders Ceri Morgan and Greg Walters just ahead of them to provide a valuable extra defensive shield.

But gradually, with Carmarthen beginning to break forward from deep positions more often and with greater purpose, the game began to open up – and in the 12thminute the hosts took the lead, albeit with considerable help from the opposition.

Liam Thomas, from well inside his own half, embarked on a surging run along the right touchline before firing the ball deep into the goalmouth where Owen, with Tyrrell Webbe close-by, attempted to clear the ball to safety but, to his dismay and the Old Gold’s delight, he succeeded only in sending it firmly into the roof of the net. 

Stung by that setback Cefn again began to dominate the play, putting the home goal under threat with a series of crosses and corner-kicks – but through a combination of determined, and sometimes desperate, defending the Old Gold survived that spell with Idzi never being seriously tested.   

Then, as earlier, Carmarthen relieved that pressure by launching a swift counter-attack and scoring a second goal.  On 41 minutes Luke Bowen received the ball from Idzi’s huge clearance and sent it forward to Webbe who burst into the penalty area before attempting to slide a short pass across to Thomas – while that was blocked by a defender, the loose ball was claimed by Bowen and from 15 yards he struck a fierce volley past ‘keeper Michael Jones and into the back of the net.

After the interval the play was initially quite evenly balanced and uneventful.  However in the 55thminute the Old Gold managed the first notable scoring chance when Morgan fired a long ball forward to Webbe who slipped past his marker and from 20 yards dispatched a rasping strike that flew just narrowly wide of the post.

But moments later the visitors reduced the deficit with a goal that owed much to a defensive error. Alec Mudimu made a determined run forward from midfield then released a speculative 30 yard drive that Idzi badly misjudged, allowing the ball to bounce into the net.

Town responded well and straightaway went in search of a goal to restore their advantage.  On 64 minutes Thomas, near the corner flag, won the ball off a defender then swiftly sent a fine cross to Mael Davies, who was unmarked just inside the penalty area, only for the influential midfielder to drill his shot wide of the far post.

Then shortly afterwards Declan Carroll played the ball neatly through to Walters who, from the wide edge of the penalty area, dispatched a crisp angled drive that was expertly resisted by Jones.

While the match had quickly developed into a fast-paced end-to-end affair, the Old Gold were creating the better scoring opportunities.  And after 73 minutes Walters produced a delightful cross-field pass that sent Jordan Knott racing forward along the left touchline – he then threaded the ball across to Bowen who, from the edge of the penalty area, instantly struck a powerful shot that Jones turned aside with a flying full-length save.

Then in the 84thminute, just as it seemed that Town would be able to preserve their single goal advantage, the Druids snatched an equaliser – James Davies, on the left flank, fired the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Owen struck a superb drive beyond Idzi’s reach and into the top corner of the net.

And for the Old Gold much worse was soon to follow.  On 86 minutes, as the hosts were swarming upfield in search of the goal that would restore their lead, Cefn launched a rapid counter-attack – a long pass was sent forward to James Davies who sprinted beyond Mael Davies, the last defender, and reached the edge of the penalty area before clinically firing the ball beyond Idzi’s reach and into the back of the net.

Once again Town’s apparent inability to stop the opposition scoring goals has proved costly.  In the 14 WPL matches so far this season they have kept a ‘clean sheet’ only three times – and none at all in the last nine matches.  And their current total of 30 goals conceded is significantly higher than any other team apart from Llanelli who are rooted at the bottom of the League.  This failing surely has to be remedied if results are to improve, which they must do, over the rest of this season if Town are to avoid the anxieties encountered in the latter stages of 2017/18.

Carmarthen’s next fixture is on Saturday 17thNovember (k/o 2.30pm) when they make the long journey up to Llandudno (who, perhaps helpfully, are currently the lowest scoring team in the WPL). 

  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies;  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott (sub Sean Hanbury 90); Declan Carroll;  Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan; Liam Thomas;  Luke Bowen;  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Jordan Vickers 85);   

Unused Subs:  Craig Hanford;  Lewis Baldwin;  Jay Woodford;

Goals:  Matty Owen (OG)(12);  Luke Bowen (43);         

Cards:  (Y)   Greg Walters (85);  

WPL Matchday 13

Match Report – Carmarthen Town  v Caernarfon (3 November 2018)

Carmarthen Town (4)  Caernarfon (3)

 

After a series of disappointing results Carmarthen, refreshingly, produced an exciting performance laced with four stunning goals to justifiably secure their first victory in eight matches since early September against a spirited Caernarfon side that played their full part in this thrilling non-stop, end-to-end contest.

In the early stages the pattern of play set the tone for the rest of the match with both sides eagerly counter-attacking at every opportunity – but initially, with the defences coping well with the intermittent pressure, no serious scoring opportunities emerged.

However in the 10thminute the visitors took the lead, though not from open play.  Nathan Craig struck a fierce 25 yard free-kick around the ‘defensive wall’ and although ‘keeper Lee Idzi was down quickly to block the ball, he uncharacteristically failed to gather it cleanly allowing it to bounce into the net.

Town responded well to that setback and went close to snatching an early equaliser on 14 minutes in similar fashion – from just outside the penalty area Declan Carroll dispatched a rasping free-kick that left ‘keeper Alex Ramsay well-beaten but the ball crashed against the underside of the bar then bounced safely away.

Moments later Mael Davies directed another free-kick into the crowded penalty area and while that was cleared, the ball landed nicely for Greg Walters who instantly fired a crisp 15 yard volley that flew just narrowly too high.

Yet this spell of pressure was eventually rewarded in the 17thminute when Davies, from the left-wing, delivered a searching free-kick deep into the penalty area where Lee Surman, beyond the far post, hooked the ball back towards the packed goalmouth and saw Liam Thomas plant a smart close-range header into the roof of the net. 

The pace of the match soon increased with both teams counter-attacking briskly from deep positions – and on 20 minutes Caernarfon went close to restoring their lead when Craig sent a left-wing cross into the goalmouth to find Darren Thomas who struck a close-range shot that Idzi, atoning for his earlier costly error, resisted with an astonishing reflex save.

Then after 33 minutes Craig again fired the ball into the penalty area where Jamie Breese hit a crisp angled drive across the face of the goal but marginally beyond the far post.

Yet the Old Gold were still stretching the visitors’ defence with frequent rapid breaks spearheaded by Thomas, Webbe and Luke Bowen and in first-half added time they snatched a late goal.  Carroll launched a huge throw-in that reached Thomas inside the crowded goalmouth – Town’s all-time top scorer turned sharply to evade his marker then from close range drilled the ball past Ramsay and into the corner of the net.

After the interval Carmarthen took the early initiative forcing the visitors back on defence with a spell of incisive attacking football.  And they soon stretched their lead when in the 54thminute Webbe embarked on a surging run through the centre to reach the edge of the penalty area before attempting a pass which was blocked by a defender – but the ball rebounded straight to Carroll who immediately returned it with a stunning 20 yard volley that flew beyond Ramsay’s reach and into the top corner of the net.

Immediately Caernarfon fought back and the earlier pattern of fast-paced, end-to-end football once more emerged.  And on 65 minutes they went close to reducing the deficit when after some good approach play Craig, from just outside the penalty area, dispatched a smart shot that Idzi turned aside with a flying full-length save.

But shortly afterwards they were successful when following a goalmouth scramble the referee, to the surprise and dismay of Old Gold defenders, awarded the visitors a penalty after Caernarfon’s Rhys Roberts had fallen to the ground under Bowen’s mild challenge – Craig stepped forward and comfortably converted the spot-kick.

Straightaway Town were forced back to defend in depth as the visitors pressed forward in search of an equaliser but they were still able to launch several lively counter-attacks – and soon, in the 73rdminute, they regained their two-goal advantage. 

Davies, from the centre-circle, fired a dangerous free-kick into the packed penalty area where Dave Vincent’s subtle header set Bowen free and from close range he confidently slotted the ball past Ramsay and into the back of the net.

Immediately the Old Gold, through substitutions, reorganised their formation to bolster their defence at the cost of weakening their counter-attacking options which had hitherto proved so successful.  

Yet despite that change, Caernarfon managed to reduce the deficit on 88 minutes when they were awarded a second penalty after an infringement inside the packed goalmouth.  Again Craig converted to complete a remarkable hat-trick for the defender, none being from open play.

The visitors, unsurprisingly, poured forward in the closing stages in search of an equaliser while Carmarthen were pinned back in determined defence of their goal – a task made even more difficult by the referee when he indicated there would be five minutes of  additional time!

But they survived to secure a valuable, and overall well-deserved, three points which lift them out of the Welsh Premier League relegation zone.  And since Town’s next two fixtures are against the teams now directly above and below them in the League table, there is every prospect of further points that would elevate them to an even healthier position.

Next Saturday (10thNovember k/o 2.30pm) Cefn Druids visit Richmond Park when the Old Gold will be looking to avenge the four-goal thrashing they suffered at The Rock in September. 

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Jordan Vickers (sub Ceri Morgan 46);  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman;  Jordan Knott; Mael Davies;  Declan Carroll;  Greg Walters; Liam Thomas (sub Lewis Baldwin 89); Luke Bowen;  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Craig Hanford 75);  

Unused Subs:  Sean Hanbury; Jay Woodford;

Goals:  Liam Thomas (17, 45+1);  Declan Carroll (54);  Luke Bowen (73);         

Cards:  (Y)   Mael Davies (60);  Ceri Morgan (85);  Greg Walters (85);  Lee Idzi (90);  Lewis                                    Baldwin (90+4);              

WPL Matchday 12

Match Report – Cardiff Met v Carmarthen Town (28 October 2018)

 

Cardiff Met (1)  Carmarthen Town (1)   

Carmarthen avoided defeat in an away match for the first time this season with a disciplined and determined performance against Cardiff Met – a result that fairly reflected the evenly-balanced pattern of the game throughout most of the match.

In the early stages the play switched quickly from end-to-end but, with both defences looking secure, no scoring chances emerged.  The Old Gold, for the first time this season, fielded their most accomplished back-four and, under Lee Surman’s direction, they comfortably contained the lively Met forwards and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never tested.    

Yet on 15 minutes the home side should have taken the lead – after a quick break forward along the right flank Dylan Rees sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth only to see Will Evans, from a good position, wastefully send his close-range header wide of the goal.

During this initial spell Carmarthen were making no tangible impression on the well-drilled Met defence. With a strike-force comprising Tyrrell Webbe and Jordan Vickers, both of whom were playing as full-backs in the last match against Bala, there was a noticeable lack of goal-poaching experience spearheading Town’s attacks which Luke Bowen (suspended) and all-time top goal-scorer Liam Thomas (deployed in midfield in this match) normally provide.

However with Mael Davies and Declan Carroll prominent in midfeld the Old Gold were not short of creativity when going forward and in the 18thminute they opened the scoring after their first serious attacking threat.  Davies made a strong run into the penalty area but was brought down by Kyle McCarthy – Liam Thomas stepped forward and confidently drove the spot-kick into the corner of the net leaving ‘keeper Alex Lang well beaten.

The first-half continued in that same fashion with the Carmarthen defence capably resisting the hosts’ persistent probing and they were well supported by Idzi who, with his customary safe and assured handling, dealt comfortably with a number of crosses. 

After the interval Cardiff again took the initiative and launched a series of penetrating attacks but they were still unable to make any meaningful progress as the Old Gold continued their well-organised and highly-effective defending inside and around their own penalty area, often leaving only Webbe as a lone striker upfield. 

However gradually the Met were building pressure and, with the play now largely concentrated deep inside the visitors’ half, they were managing to get even more crosses into an increasingly congested goalmouth – ‘keeper Lee Idzi was busier than at any earlier stage.

Yet Town, with some well-organised and occasionally desperate defending in depth, continued to successfully protect their fragile lead – but only until the 72ndminute when the hosts snatched an equaliser with a well-crafted goal.  Rees from the right-wing sent a searching cross into the penalty area where Chris Baker skilfully chested the ball down for Eliot Evans who, finding space amongst the crowd of defenders,  hit a stunning 15 yard volley past Idzi and into the net.

Spurred by that success the Met continued to press forward in search of a late winning goal but, despite a scare on 90 minutes when Evans was again presented with a clear scoring opportunity well inside the penalty area only to fire the ball just over the bar, the Old Gold survived to deservedly finish on level terms. 

Given their poor away form so far this season, Town might reasonably be satisfied with this result but if they are to climb away from the foot of the WPL table any time soon they must set their sights on winning matches because if that does not happen they will be facing the worrying prospect of a repeat of the struggles that blighted them last season.

Carmarthen’s next match is on Saturday 3rdNovember (k/o 2.30pm) when they entertain Caernarfon Town at Richmond Park.

  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings (sub Craig Hanford 72);  Dave Vincent;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott;  Declan Carroll;  Mael Davies; Greg Walters;  Liam Thomas;  Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 90);  Tyrrell Webbe;

Goal:  Liam Thomas (18 pen);    

Cards:  (Y)  Declan Carroll (54);  Jordan Knott (88);  Jordan Vickers (90);          

WPL Matchday 11 - Bala Town

Match Report – Carmarthen Town  v Bala (20 October 2018)

Carmarthen Town (1)  Bala (2)

 

Carmarthen concluded a gruelling run of four fixtures against the current top four teams in the Welsh Premier League with, almost predictably, yet another defeat – and while the score-line replicated the narrow defeat which they suffered in this season’s exciting opening fixture at Bala, sadly Town’s performance here was a distinct contrast.

Even before the start they were disadvantaged by the absence of key players Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Luke Cummings, although better news was return after injury of current top scorer Luke Bowen. 

And as the opening stages of the match unfolded Bala progressively dominated the play, monopolising possession and launching a series of attacks that kept the hosts largely pinned back deep inside their own half – without the combative presence of Morgan and Walters in particular, Town’s midfield struggled to provide an effective robust shield ahead of the defensive back-line.  Yet the back four, well-marshalled by Dave Vincent, initially coped well while behind them goalkeeper Lee Idzi again demonstrated his customary safe and assured handling whenever necessary.

It was not until the 6thminute that the visitors managed their first serious scoring chance when Steven Tames threaded the ball across to Henry Jones near the corner of the penalty area and he struck a fierce drive that Idzi resisted with a smart full-length save.

Bala continued their relentless pressure on the home goal, but once more they were frustrated by some further determined defensive work – and on several occasions poor finishing spoiled their good approach play.  Yet, almost inevitably, they at last went ahead when on 17 minutes Ian Sheridan, on the right flank, fired a dangerous cross towards the far post where Tames leapt high above defenders and planted a firm header past Idzi and into the roof of the net.

Until then the Old Gold as an attacking force were almost non-existent, being barely able to get the ball beyond the half-way line in any meaningful way – but, refreshingly, that goal seemed to galvanise them into far more positive action with several spirited counter-attacks that, at last, gave the visitors’ some serious defensive work to do.

After 27 minutes Bowen embarked on a powerful run from the centre-circle before sending a neat pass across to Mael Davies – he instantly slid the ball forward to Tyrrell Webbe who drove a searching cross into the goalmouth only to see defender Stuart Jones clear the danger just as Bowen and Liam Thomas were closing in for a simple scoring chance.

Then an even better opportunity was squandered on 34 minutes when Carroll’s prodigious throw-in reached deep into the goalmouth only for Thomas, normally so clinical in front of goal, to fire his close-range volley wastefully high over the bar.

The Old Gold were now looking increasingly likely to secure an equaliser and moments later at the end of another promising attack the ball reached Carroll on the edge of the penalty area – with a typically bewildering show of dazzling footwork he slipped easily past two defenders then dispatched a sharp 15 yard drive that flew just narrowly past the post.

But Bala were still a threat on the counter-attack and after 38 minutes they were close to increasing their lead.  Sean Smith sent a routine left-wing cross into the goalmouth where Webbe, under no pressure, badly miscued his attempted clearance to present Chris Venables with a clear scoring chance – but while the one-time top WPL marksman’s close-range header went beyond Idzi’s reach, it also comfortably cleared the bar.

Then on 40 minutes Town were back on level terms.  Webbe, atoning for his defensive lapse, finished a surging run along the left touchline with a searching cross towards the goalmouth where a poor clearance by Smith was pounced on by Carroll who from the edge of the penalty area released a rasping strike that hit the back of the net before ‘keeper Ashley Morris could react.

After the interval the game meandered along without any notable incident until the 67thminute when Bowen, having been shown a yellow card for a foul tackle only a few minutes beforehand, inexplicably decided to handle the ball which unsurprisingly led to a second yellow and, inevitably, he was sent off.

Immediately Bala took full advantage of their numerical superiority and resumed their earlier domination of the play, while the Old Gold were again forced largely back on defence with only Thomas up front effectively operating as a lone spearhead. 

On 69 minutes the visitors went close to retaking the lead when Kieran Smith cut inside from the left-wing then from 20 yards dispatched a fine curling shot that Idzi, at full length, claimed at the far post.  Moments later Town’s goal was again under threat when Nathan Burke sent a dangerous cross into the packed goalmouth where Jones saw his close-range header resisted by Idzi with a spectacular flying save.

As Bala’s attacking momentum intensified, the home defence became increasingly stretched and in the 74thminute it was opened up by a swift incisive move – Jordan Vickers was unable to prevent Venables’ lofted cross-field pass reaching Kieran Smith who was free to race forward and into the penalty area before turning neatly past Lewis Baldwin and sliding the ball beyond Idzi’s reach and into the corner of the net.

The Old Gold immediately responded by sending further players forward to boost their attacking prospects but while this strategy led to greater pressure on the visitors’ defence, only one significant scoring opportunity emerged.  On 84 minutes Morris, attempting a headed clearance from the edge of the penalty area, sent the ball straight to Webbe who, from 20 yards, immediately returned it with a scorching angled volley that, agonisingly, flew just wide of the far post. 

So, at this half-way point of the WPL first-phase programme Carmarthen occupy a relegation place – just as they did at this time last season.  Then, however, they had a much worse points return.  And, significantly, of the eleven remaining first-phase fixtures most (seven) are against current bottom-six teams.  Hopefully a decent points return will be forthcoming.

Town’s next fixture is on Sunday 28thOctober (k/o 2.30pm) when they travel to Cardiff Met.

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Jordan Vickers;  Lewis Baldwin (sub Lee Surman 77);  Dave Vincent; Tyrrell Webbe;  Mael Davies;  Declan Carroll; Jordan Knott;  Sean Hanbury (sub Craig Hanford 75);  Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;  

Unused subs:  Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas;  Neil Smothers;

Cards:  (R) Luke Bowen (2xY 60+67); 

(Y)  Lewis Baldwin (67);  Dave Vincent (72);  Jordan Vickers (83);  

WPL Matchday 10

Carmarthen Town v Barry Town (13 October 2018)

WPL Matchday 9

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v The New Saints (6 October 2018)

Carmarthen Town (0)  The New Saints (3)

Carmarthen produced a commendably determined and disciplined performance against Welsh Premier League Champions The New Saints but ultimately slumped to disappointing defeat due, largely, to uncharacteristic defensive errors that virtually gifted the visitors two goals in the second-half.

From the outset the Saints slipped straight into their familiar game pattern, dominating possession and patiently building pressure before incisively probing the Old Gold defence. But it immediately became clear that Town were set up to counter that approach by defending deeply and packing the midfield with a five-man unit that had the energy and vision not only to provide a further defensive shield but also to launch promising counter-attacks whenever the opportunity arose – consequently Sean Hanbury, in the unfortunate absence due to injury of current top scorer Luke Bowen, was left to operate as the solitary nominal striker.

And this strategy worked – initially.  In fact Carmarthen fashioned the first notable scoring chance when on 5 minutes Luke Cummings surged forward along the right flank before sending a cross into the Saints’ penalty area where a poor clearance was gathered by Greg Walters who from 25 yards struck a fierce drive that ‘keeper Paul Harrison was well placed to claim.

Yet the wave of attacks launched by TNS seemed relentless.  A series of crosses were projected into the goalmouth, while on several occasions swift and direct passing moves reached deep inside the penalty area – but, through a combination of resolute Town defending and sometimes poor Saints finishing, there was rarely any serious scoring threat.  And when called upon experienced ‘keeper Lee Idzi each time displayed his customary safe and assured handling in dealing with testing crosses and any other likely risk to his goal.

Accordingly, it was not until the 26thminute that the Saints looked likely to score. Jamie Mullan, a constant worry for the Town defence with his strong running and perceptive distribution, raced forward to the by-line then delivered an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Aeron Edwards directed a promising header beyond Idzi’s reach and towards the far corner of the goal – but Liam Thomas arrived to make a timely intervention and block the ball on the goal-line allowing the grateful ‘keeper to take possession.

Yet the Old Gold carved the next significant opening on 28 minutes.  Ceri Morgan sent the ball forward to Thomas just outside the penalty area and he instantly played it neatly across to Walters – the lively midfielder turned sharply past Simon Spender then dispatched a rasping strike but saw Harrison deny him for the second time with a smart save.    

The visitors continued to look the more likely to score but, as before, Town comfortably resisted their progress with some sound defending in and around their often highly-populated penalty area.

After the interval the same pattern of play soon emerged – but very quickly the outcome was completely different.  In the 49thminute Jon Routledge fired a deep cross towards the far post where Tyrrell Webbe inexplicably headed the ball back into the goalmouth where Mullan reacted quickly to stab it home from close range.

This spurred the Saints into raising the pace and intensity of their attacking momentum and on 56 minutes they went close to extending their lead – a slick passing move from the half-way line led to Greg Draper bursting into the penalty area only to waste the opportunity by striking his 15 yard shot just wide of the post.

Then after 60 minutes Mullan hit a promising 20 yard free-kick that Idzi, with a spectacular flying save, turned aside.  Moments later Mullan sent a dangerous right-wing cross into the goalmouth only for Draper to direct his close-range glancing header narrowly beyond the far post. And this spell of intense TNS activity finished with Tom Holland, from inside his own half, releasing a long through-ball that set Draper racing clear into the penalty area but the prolific striker failed again when he saw his angled volley turned aside by Idzi with another superb full-length save.

Carmarthen at last got some relief from that onslaught in the 70thminute when Webbe made a determined run along the left-wing before delivering a searching cross into the goalmouth where Hanbury managed a subtle close-range header that Harrison resisted with an impressive reflex save.

However any thoughts the Old Gold might have had about staging a recovery were soon extinguished following another poor defensive error.  On 75 minutes Lewis Baldwin, some distance from his goal, produced a weak back-pass that Draper easily intercepted – in clear space he then raced forward and into the penalty area before fiercely driving the ball past Idzi and into the back of the net.

Two unforced errors, two goals, game over – as if TNS ever needed help in scoring!

A late flurry of substitutions for Town made little difference and, although some welcome attacking pressure ensued, they were unable to forge any decent scoring opportunities in the closing stages of the match despite the continuing tireless efforts of Mael Davies, Morgan and Walters who had been, throughout, the stand-out performers for the Old Gold.  

Indeed, the only such action arose at the other end of the pitch.  On 89 minutes Holland played a fine cross-field pass out to Spender on the right flank and he cut swiftly into the penalty area before releasing a powerful shot that crashed against the near post then rebounded safely away.

Then in the second minute of added time TNS finished the match with a third goal – Holland sent a sublime pass through to Kurtis Byrne who moved into the penalty area and dispatched an angled strike that flew beyond Idzi’s reach and into the far corner of the net.

With this defeat the Old Gold now, worryingly, slip into the relegation places at the base of the WPL, a location with which they became all too familiar during the whole of last season – it has to be hoped that this season their tenancy here will be much more brief.

Carmarthen’s next fixture is on Saturday 13thOctober (k/o 2.30pm) when they travel to Barry Town United who currently occupy a top-six position in the League.

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies; Lewis Baldwin;  Dave Vincent;  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Jordan Vickers 78);  Luke Cummings (sub Declan Carroll 84);  Ceri Morgan; Greg Walters;  Jordan Knott;  Liam Thomas;  Sean Hanbury (sub Jay Woodford 78);        

Unused subs:  Craig Hanford;  Danny Thomas;

Cards:  (Y)  Luke Cummings (25);  Liam Thomas (33);  Dave Vincent (51);  Greg Walters (53);  Jordan Knott (70);  

WPL Matchday 8 

Match Report – Connah’s Quay v Carmarthen Town (29 September 2018)

Connah’s Quay (3)  Carmarthen Town (1)  

Yet another trip to North Wales for the Old Gold this season has led to a disappointing performance and, eventually, conclusive defeat – and, worryingly, at no time during this match did it seem likely that, despite considerable effort and commitment, they would be able to avoid that outcome.

From the start the Nomads took the initiative with a series of penetrating attacks that kept the Town defence fully occupied but, despite a fair amount of goalmouth activity, no real scoring chances emerged – crosses were frequently over-hit or comfortably cleared while the visitors’ back-four, performing as a unit for the first time in the League this season, was working well under pressure.

And directly ahead of them the now familiar midfield trio of Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Mael Davies eagerly provided a further valuable layer of defensive support whenever necessary.

Then at last, after 14 minutes, the hosts fashioned a decent scoring opportunity.  From the half-way line Andrew Owens fired a lofted pass forward to Ryan Wignall who was in the clear – as Lee Idzi advanced out of his goal towards the edge of his penalty area to challenge him, the experienced striker attempted to chip the ball high into the net but the effort was poor allowing the ‘keeper to claim possession.

During this early spell Town’s attacking opportunities were confined to a few occasional, and ultimately unsuccessful, counter-attacks spearheaded by main strikers Liam Thomas and Luke Bowen.  Their best chance arose on 23 minutes when Bowen swept forward with the ball then played it neatly through to Thomas who took it into the penalty area then dispatched a fierce 15 yard strike that ‘keeper Jon Rushton, diving smartly down, forced away – Walters, following up, narrowly failed to claim the loose ball.

After 27 minutes the hosts were again denied by some smart defending. Wignall sprinted down the left-wing, holding off Tyrrell Webbe, and from wide in the penalty area he fired the ball across the goalmouth where Dave Vincent, facing his own goal, skilfully managed to head it beyond the far post thereby denying Michael Wilde a simple tap-in opportunity.

But again the visitors soon went close to taking the lead.  On 37 minutes Webbe, from close to the right touchline, lifted a searching free-kick into the packed penalty area where Thomas headed the ball across to Bowen who released a stunning angled drive that defeated Rushton but crashed against the post and rebounded safely away.

Yet in the final minute of the first-half Connah's Quay took the lead when Rushton fired a long clearance upfield and into the penalty area where Idzi’s weak attempt to punch the ball away went straight to James Owen who had the simple task of chipping it back over a crowd of players and into the net.        

After the interval the hosts again took the initiative and, putting early pressure on the Town defence, they went close to extending their lead on 51 minutes. Rob Hughes sent a long cross-field pass to the corner of the penalty area which was met by Andrew Owens who struck a crisp volley that Idzi, with an impressive flying save, turned aside. And moments later Hughes delivered an inviting corner into the packed goalmouth where Jonny Spittle put his close-range glancing header just wide of the post.

The Nomads had dominated the opening stages of the second-half during which the Old Gold, defending deeply, had barely been able to venture beyond the half-way line.  But all that changed in the 56thminute when Bowen, now mostly isolated as a lone spearhead, embarked on a determined run along the left flank before holding off his marker and reaching the corner of the penalty area then drilled an angled shot across the face of the goal – Davies chased the loose ball out towards the corner flag and smartly fired it back into the goalmouth where Thomas, reacting quicker than several defenders, smartly volleyed the ball into the roof of the net. 

Stung by that setback the hosts quickly resumed their dominance of the play and they went close to re-taking the lead on 75 minutes when Hughes sent a corner-kick into the crowded penalty area and saw Danny Harrison’s smart header cleared off the goal-line by Walters’ well-judged intervention.

Yet after 82 minutes the Nomads got their reward.  Substitute Nathan Woolfe fired a corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where the visitors somehow failed to clear the danger and allowed the ball to reach Owens who confidently planted his close-range header into the back of net.

Just moments later they were near to increasing their advantage when more slack defending gave Hughes the time and opportunity to turn sharply on the edge of the penalty area and strike a rasping volley that Idzi, producing a spectacular full-length save, turned over the bar.

Then Carmarthen went close to snatching a late equaliser in the 90thminute – Luke Cummings fired a dangerous free-kick into a congested penalty area and found Walters who directed a subtle glancing header towards the goal where Vincent, agonisingly, saw his close-range effort cleared off the line by a defender.

But then, deep into added time, the Nomads put the result beyond doubt with a third breakaway goal – from deep inside his own half Hughes surged upfield then played the ball across to Wignall who from just inside the penalty area dispatched a crisp drive that Idzi was powerless to resist.

Town’s away form is worrying – four straight defeats and fifteen goals conceded.  And while admittedly three of those matches have been against strong sides that have held top four League places for several seasons, the other was a heavy loss to a side currently residing in the relegation zone.  This is not an unfamiliar situation – last season they also began with four losses away from home.  It has to be hoped that the struggles which were then subsequently encountered do not once more materialise this time.      

Thankfully, home matches this term have generally, so far, been more rewarding but the Old Gold face a stern test next week-end at Richmond Park when they entertain The New Saints on Saturday October 6th(k/o 2.30pm).    

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Tyrrell Webbe;  Lewis Baldwin;  Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott (sub Sean Hanbury 89); Mael Davies;  Ceri Morgan;  Greg Walters; Jordan Vickers (sub Luke Cummings 61); Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;       

Unused subs:  Craig Hanford;  Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas; 

Goal:  Liam Thomas (56);  

Cards:  (Y)  Jordan Knott (70);  

MG NATHANIEL CUP ROUND 2

 

Match Report – Cardiff Met v Carmarthen Town  (25 September 2018)

Cardiff Met (3)  Carmarthen Town (1)   Nathanial MG League Cup R2

Carmarthen deservedly crashed out of the League Cup after a very disappointing performance that was a complete contrast to their impressive display of attacking football which earned them a comfortable victory in the WPL match between these sides at Richmond Park only three weeks ago.  

The early stages of this match were decidedly uneventful with the play being largely confined to unproductive midfield exchanges as both sides squandered possession all too easily.

But all that changed after 8 minutes when Mael Davies initiated a slick move that carved open the Met defence.  Town’s stylish midfielder, from the centre-circle, threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas who, with a slick pass, instantly set Luke Bowen sprinting forward to the edge of the penalty area where the experienced on-form striker dispatched a fierce angled drive that flew past ‘keeper Max Manson and into the far corner of the net – that was his fifth goal in the last six matches.

Yet that simply prompted the hosts to enliven their performance and they began to monopolise possession, methodically building attacks from deep positions and increasingly probing the Old Gold defence.  And on 14 minutes they drew level.  Will Evans on the left flank fired a huge cross to the far side of the penalty area where Dylan Rees struck a low angled shot that was smartly blocked by ‘keeper Lee Idzi – however the ball fell nicely for Rhys Thomas who had the simple task of stabbing it into the net from close-range.

The Met continued to dictate the pattern and pace of the game with the play largely confined to the visitors’ half.  Yet for a spell they were unable to again pierce the Town defence very much due to the assured performance of Dave Vincent, making a rare start this season, while alongside him Lewis Baldwin impressed on his Carmarthen debut looking strong, mobile and composed under pressure.

Town could make only rare progress with occasional counter-attacks.  But in the 32ndminute they went close to regaining the lead – Tyrrell Webbe, from the half-way line, made a powerful run along the left touchline before sending an inviting cross into the penalty area where Bowen struck a stunning volley that was resisted by Manson, turning the ball away with an excellent flying save.

After 38 minutes the hosts were similarly denied a goal.  Chris Baker played the ball across the edge of the penalty area to Eliot Evans who dispatched a rasping strike that drew a smart save from Idzi.

But in the final minute of the first-half the Met went ahead very much due to a mix-up in the Old Gold defence.  Joel Edwards, from the left-wing, sent a deep cross into the goalmouth where Idzi and Declan Carroll both fatally hesitated in clearing the danger which allowed Baker the time and space to dart in and stab the ball home from close-range. 

After the interval the game became more open and fast-paced as the play switched quickly from end to end although neither side could make any real impression on the opposition defence and no early scoring chances emerged.

For Carmarthen the principal architect of their midfield progress was Mael Davies, forever looking calm and confident in possession as well as accurate and penetrative with his distribution – but with his usual midfield partners, Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Luke Cummings, all on the subs bench for this cup-tie he was often short of effective help in that area.

Yet both sides were unable to make much progress and it was not until the 71stminute that any decent scoring opportunity arose – and that was due to a defensive error. Vincent, on the edge of his own penalty area, allowed Tim Parker to rob him of the ball and the tall striker instantly struck a crisp shot that Idzi, stretching high, just managed to claim.

Remarkably, Town’s only notable scoring effort in a very uninspiring second-half came in the 81stminute when Bowen broke clear of the Met back-line and raced into the penalty area before releasing a fierce angled drive that Manson blocked with a smart save – the loose ball rebounded out to Carroll and he sent it across to Sean Hanbury who saw his promising strike turned past the post by Manson diving quickly down at full length. 

However the hosts finished the match as the more determined and stronger side.  On 86 minutes Adam Roscrow sprinted along the left touchline to reach the by-line then delivered a cross into the goalmouth where Will Evans, with time and space, wastefully fired the ball over the bar.

But moments afterwards any chance that the Old Gold might possibly stage a late recovery was effectively extinguished.  Following a Cardiff Met corner Lee Surman (who had only been on the field as a substitute for 8 minutes) was sent-off, evidently for an “off-the-ball incident” involving Parker.  While the resulting penalty was squandered by Roscrow, blasting the ball high over the bar, it was not too long before he helped to make victory secure by setting up a third goal.

In the second minute of added time, with Town pressing upfield in the faint hope of snatching a late equaliser, Roscrow broke free along the left-wing and into the penalty area – as Idzi advanced to challenge him he slid the ball across to Parker, completely alone, who had the simple task of firing it into the unguarded net.        

A miserable finish to a generally miserable match – it seems to be a very long time ago since the Old Gold were dominating this League Cup competition, winning the trophy twice in successive seasons!!

Town must now very quickly recover and regroup since their next two matches can hardly be more challenging – on Saturday (September 29thk/o 2.30pm) they visit Connah's Quay who currently lie second in the WPL, while the following week-end (October 6thk/o 2.30pm) they entertain perpetual League Champions and current leaders TNS.  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Jordan Vickers (sub Jordan Knott sub 66);  Lewis Baldwin;  Dave Vincent (sub Lee Surman 79);  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Greg Walters 66);  Jay Woodford; Mael Davies;  Declan Carroll;  Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen;  Sean Hanbury; 

Unused subs:  Luke Cummings;  Ceri Morgan;     

Goal:  Luke Bowen (8);    

Cards:  (R) Lee Surman (87);      

WPL Matchday 7

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Aberystwyth (22 September 2018)

Carmarthen Town (2)  Aberystwyth (2)  

Never has the expression “a game of two halves” been more relevant – while the Old Gold overwhelmed the visitors during the first 45 minutes and should really have secured more than the two-goal advantage which they actually managed, after the interval the Seasiders struck back and virtually dominated the game just as emphatically.

Town made a refreshingly positive start, controlling the midfield and launching a series of rapid, penetrating attacks that kept the visitors’ defence fully occupied. Briefly Aberystwyth withstood that pressure but soon a stream of scoring chances emerged.  

On 5 minutes Sean Hanbury, from close to the corner of the penalty area, struck a fierce free-kick that flew narrowly over the bar.  Moments later Liam Thomas threaded a short pass through to Ceri Morgan who raced towards the by-line then fired a deep cross to beyond the far post where Luke Bowen planted a close-range header just wide of the goal.

Then in the 10thminute the Old Gold, with a move begun from deep inside their own half, deservedly took the lead.  Morgan fired a long pass forward which Bowen, with defender Lee Jenkin close-by, pursued into the penalty area – the Aber player woefully under-hit an attempted back-pass to his goalkeeper which Town’s experienced striker intercepted and he instantly drilled a smart drive into the back of the net.

Encouraged by that success Carmarthen intensified their attacking momentum, driven to a notable extent by the energy and vision of central midfielders Ceri Morgan and Greg Walters.  On 16 minutes a free-kick from Declan Carroll was punched away by ‘keeper Leigh Jenkins then cleared by a defender but the ball fell nicely for Tyrrell Webbe who struck a stunning 40 yard shot which the surprised ‘keeper, well off his goal-line, just managed to turn over the bar.

After 22 minutes the hosts again went close when Thomas sent a lofted pass through to Bowen who, from deep inside the penalty area, released a crisp strike that was blocked in front of goal by a defender.

Throughout this opening period Aberystwyth had been barely able to get across the half-way line – and it was only when they won two consecutive corner-kicks after 30 minutes that the Old Gold defence suffered any noticeable element of pressure and concern.

Indeed, the only worry for Carmarthen supporters was the failure of their team to convert any more than just a single goal from the many scoring opportunities that they had created – but that was remedied in the 38thminute.

From the centre-circle Walters sent the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area where Bowen played it back to Thomas who from 20 yards clinically converted the chance by firing a smart volley past Jenkins and into the back of the net.

And shortly afterwards the referee blew the whistle to conclude undoubtedly the most exhilarating 45 minutes of attractive attacking football that the Old Gold have produced in a very long time.

After the interval a similar pattern of play soon emerged – but this time it was Aberystwyth, now showing far more urgency and purpose, who took charge of the game with the hosts being forced back on defence as they attempted to protect their lead.

And on 50 minutes they went close to reducing the deficit when, following a corner-kick, Wes Baynes drove the ball into the packed penalty area – a defensive clearance went straight to Joe Phillips but he saw his 20 yard strike slide just beyond the far post.  Then moments later Matthew Jones fired a right-wing cross into the goalmouth where Ryan Edwards, with time and space, produced a close-range header that Lee Idzi was well-placed to claim safely.

The Seasiders were enjoying more and more possession, while the Town defence looked increasingly stretched under pressure.  A series of crosses from both sides of the pitch flew into the home penalty area but due to some solid, albeit occasionally desperate, defending under the guidance of experienced centre-back Lee Surman, coupled with a few moments of good fortune, Idzi’s goal remained unblemished.

However eventually in the 64thminute the visitors, almost predictably, snatched a goal. After some good approach work Edwards, on the left flank, crossed the ball into the crowded goalmouth where Ashley Ruane forced a close-range header over the goal-line.

While Aber continued to dominate possession and also enjoyed significant territorial advantage, the Old Gold were occasionally managing to relieve the pressure with a few spirited counter-attacks – and after 66 minutes they fashioned a decent scoring chance. Mael Davies embarked on a powerful run along the right-wing before slipping the ball forward to Walters who fired it into the penalty area where Bowen evaded his marker then hit an angled drive that defeated Jenkins but was diverted outside the far post by a defender.

A further period of pressure from the Seasiders was successfully negotiated by the overworked home defence but eventually, in the 78thminute, they were undone by an excellent strike from Declan Walker – he received the ball just outside the penalty area from Baynes’ free-kick then turned sharply past Webbe before releasing a powerful strike that defeated Idzi and left the back of the net bulging.

Having now got back on level terms, the visitors poured forward with even greater intensity as they sensed the opportunity for snatching a late winning goal while Town, only recently seeming to be cruising towards a comfortable victory, were being forced to anxiously defend in depth in order to safeguard their single point. And despite a couple of late goalmouth scares they achieved that distinctly modest aim.

Carmarthen’s next WPL fixture is on Saturday 29thSeptember (k/o 2.30pm) when they make the long trip up to North Wales to face Connah’s Quay who currently lie second in the League table.   

     

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Mael Davies; Jordan Knott;  Lee Surman;  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Jordan Vickers 81); Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan;  Declan Carroll;  Sean Hanbury (sub Craig Hanford 70);  Luke Bowen; Liam Thomas;

Unused subs:  Luke Cummings;  Dave Vincent; Jay Woodford; 

Goals:  Luke Bowen (10);  Liam Thomas (38);  

Cards:  (Y)  Mael Davies (43);  Lee Surman (77);      

 

WPL Matchday 6

 

Match Report – Cefn Druids v Carmarthen Town (15 September 2018)

Cefn Druids (4)  Carmarthen Town (0)  

After two successive entertaining and convincing victories at Richmond Park had given Carmarthen supporters good reason to believe that performances would continue to improve, this very disappointing defeat at Cefn (bottom of the League table before this match) clearly demonstrated that life away from home, at least, will be much more testing.

And this victory for the Druids, and the goal margin, was entirely merited.  From the outset they put the Old Gold defence under severe pressure with a series of penetrating attacks.  Straightaway, in quick succession three dangerous crosses were fired into the goalmouth but were cleared by the visitors before the first notable scoring chance arose on 4 minutes – Arkadiusz Piskorski took the ball forward along the right touchline to reach the by-line then sent an inviting cross towards the near post where Dean Rittenberg planted his close-range glancing header narrowly over the bar.

However moments later Cefn took the lead.  Ryan Kershaw was allowed the space to run forward from the centre-circle and claim the ball before dispatching a rasping 20 yard drive that flew beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.

Worse was soon to follow for Town – and for Idzi in particular.  In the 8thminute Matty Owen delivered a routine corner-kick into the goalmouth where the experienced ‘keeper leapt high to gather the ball but, under no real pressure from any opponent, he uncharacteristically failed to handle it cleanly – as the ball ran loose, Druids defender Nathan Peate was quickest to react and had the simple task of heading it into the empty net from close range.

So, alarmingly, with the match still in its earliest stages the Old Gold found themselves two goals behind having had barely any meaningful possession of the ball during this time.

Then on 14 minutes Cefn looked certain to increase that lead and it was only due to Idzi, atoning for his earlier expensive error in the most remarkable fashion, that they failed. Another dangerous cross into the goalmouth reached Rittenberg who saw his smart close-range header forced against the bar by the ‘keeper with an astonishing reflex save – then as the ball bounced dangerously free in front of the unguarded goal Idzi swiftly recovered to punch it clear as Jordan Evans pounced for an easy tap-in chance.

However from that point Town, belatedly, began to show more intent and competitiveness – passing the ball around productively, they were now enjoying their fair share of possession and beginning to put pressure on the home defence, albeit without yet managing a serious scoring opportunity.

But then, just as it seemed that their prospects for the rest of the match were improving, in the space of just ten minutes the Old Gold suffered the loss, through injuries in separate incidents, of two highly influential players – Ceri Morgan and Luke Cummings.     

For the remainder of the first-half the play was fairly evenly-balanced with both defences looking comfortable under intermittent pressure and, consequently, very few scoring chances emerged.  It was not until deep into added time that Town at last had a shot on target when Declan Carroll drifted in from the left flank to reach the corner of the penalty area then dispatched a speculative drive that ‘keeper Michael Jones gathered quite comfortably.

After the interval the visitors began brightly and immediately put pressure on the Druids defence. And inside the first minute of play they went close to scoring.  Jordan Knott began the move, threading a delightful pass through to Jordan Vickers just inside the penalty area – he instantly slid the ball across to Luke Bowen who dispatched a fierce 15 yard drive that struck the underside of the bar but the ball bounced away from the goal before being cleared to safety by a defender.

The match soon developed into a fast-paced end-to-end affair and on 57 minutes Town forged another decent chance when Sean Hanbury, near the left touchline, delivered another searching cross deep into the penalty area where Bowen, from 8 yards, produced a promising looping header that Jones, at full-stretch, just managed to turn over the bar.

However, as the Old Gold increasingly swept forward in search of goals they began to leave themselves vulnerable to Druids’ counter-attacks.

After 61 minutes Jordan Evans found plenty of space to run free from the centre-circle to reach the edge of the penalty area before striking a smart drive that Idzi turned aside with an impressive full-length save.  Then on 66 minutes Mudimu sent a fine long pass from the half-way line through to Piskorski who sprinted beyond Town defenders and into the penalty area only to be robbed of the ball by Idzi with an immaculately timed challenge.

Moments later Piskorski fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Rittenberg struck a sharp close-range shot that Carmarthen’s increasingly busy ‘keeper resisted with a stunning reflex save.

But in the 82ndminute the Druids increased their lead when Evans was allowed the time and space by the opposition defenders to move infield from the left touchline then forward to the edge of the penalty area before dispatching a rasping drive that flew past Idzi and into the far corner of the net.

During this spell the Old Gold were still launching attacks in an effort to make the score-line more respectable and on 85 minutes they went close to capturing a consolation goal – following a free-kick Mael Davies played a short pass to Bowen on the left flank and he immediately fired the ball into the packed goalmouth where it eventually reached Liam Thomas who hit a crisp close-range volley that Jones, with a smart save, turned around the post.

Yet there was still time in the closing minutes for another goal – but unfortunately at the other end of the pitch.  Piskorski, who had been a persistent threat to the visitors’ defence virtually throughout the match, raced forward along the right wing to reach the by-line then crossed the ball into the goalmouth where Rittenberg easily swept it into the back of the net.

That was a disappointing end to a disappointing match for Town who, worryingly, have now lost all three of their WPL away fixtures and conceded 12 goals in the process. Thankfully, by contrast their home form is far better – and their next match on Saturday 22ndSeptember (k/o 2.30pm) is at Richmond Park when they entertain old rivals Aberystwyth Town.    

     

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings (sub Dave Vincent 26);  Jordan Knott; Lee Surman;  Sean Hanbury;  Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan (sub Declan Carroll 16); Greg Walters;  Jordan Vickers (sub Jay Woodford 85);  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;

Unused subs:  Craig Hanford;  Danny Thomas; 

Cards:  (Y)   Declan Carroll (51);  Luke Bowen (89);      

 

 

WPL Matchday 5

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Newtown (8 September 2018)

Carmarthen Town (3) Newtown (0)  

Carmarthen continued their promising start to the Welsh Premier League season with this thrilling performance against Newtown which featured three clinically well-taken goals that earned them a richly-deserved victory. 

The Old Gold began positively, launching a series of attacks that kept the visitors pinned back deep inside their own half – several dangerous crosses were fired into the penalty area but due to a combination of some poor finishing, alongside sound defending by the opposition, Robins ‘keeper Dave Jones was never seriously tested.

It was fully 8 minutes before Newtown were able to produce a worthwhile attack and get into Town’s penalty area only for Ethan Jones to waste a decent chance by heading the ball wide from a good position.

However after their explosive early spell the quality of Carmarthen’s build-up play began to slip with several passes going astray and players too easily dispossessed – the visitors capitalised on this, increasing pressure on the home defence and on 13 minutes they went close to taking the lead.  Steve Leslie played a neat pass across to Jones who moved swiftly towards the corner of the penalty area then released a crisp strike that defeated ‘keeper Lee Idzi but the ball crashed against the foot of the post before cleared safely away.

For a while the play remained more evenly-balanced and after 24 minutes the Robins fashioned another scoring opportunity – Joe Kenton made ground along the right-wing before crossing the ball into the penalty area where Jones, from 15 yards, fired a smart volley just over the bar.

But that close escape seemed to galvanize the Old Gold into greater effort since straightaway they began forcing the visitors back on defence with another period of attacking play reminiscent of their opening spell – but this time with much better quality finishing.

On 31 minutes Greg Walters produced a sublime lofted pass that sent Jordan Vickers racing forward into the penalty area – while his smart 12 yard shot was blocked on the goal-line by defender Kieran Mills-Evans, the ball rebounded out wide where Vickers claimed it again and fired it back into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas pounced to produce a close-range header that Dave Jones just managed to block.   

Yet with Carmarthen now once again dominating the attacking play they at last took the lead, on 35 minutes, by a more straightforward route.  Sean Hanbury, out wide on the left flank, lifted a huge cross deep into the goalmouth where Luke Bowen arrived with perfect timing to plant his firm close-range header past Jones and into the roof of the net.

After the interval Newtown began brightly, clearly intent on claiming an early equaliser as they put the home defence under sustained pressure.  And on 53 minutes they were close to achieving that aim – Nick Rushton set up a decent chance for Alex Fletcher who struck a fierce 15 yard drive on target but saw Town substitute Dave Vincent make a timely intervention to clear the ball in front of the goal.

The Robins continued to press forward and from one of their attacks, in the 62ndminute, a simple three-man move finished with the ball in the net – but this was their own net at the other end of the pitch to put Carmarthen two goals ahead!

Idzi claimed the ball inside his own penalty area and immediately rolled it out to Vickers who embarked on a sensational 90 yard sprint upfield along the right touchline, comfortably outpacing several opponents at various stages, to reach the by-line – from there he fired the ball invitingly across the goalmouth where Bowen, with another excellent piece of goal-poaching anticipation and execution, powered it from 10 yards past the helpless Jones and into the back of the net.

This remarkable goal, due to its nature and timing, left the visitors shaken and the Old Gold elated. And soon afterwards, on 67 minutes, the hosts went close to extending their lead.  Walters, who along with Mael Davies, Ceri Morgan and Cummings had been the driving midfield force behind Town’s adventurous attacking play, threaded a fine pass forward to Thomas who slipped neatly around a defender and from the corner of the penalty area dispatched a rasping drive that flew narrowly wide of the far post.

The tempo of the game quickened as the play swung from end to end with Carmarthen looking to secure an emphatic victory, while the Robins no doubt believed that a point at least was still achievable.

And after 71 minutes they looked certain to narrow the deficit – Rushton split the home defence with a fine pass that found Callum Roberts racing free into the penalty area only to be denied a certain scoring opportunity by Lee Surman who produced a remarkable recovering tackle to claim the ball and clear the danger.

Then in the 71stminute the Old Gold put the result beyond all doubt with a clinically executed third goal – Cummings produced yet another strong run along the right flank before delivering a perfectly-weighted cross deep into the goalmouth where Thomas rose high above defenders and forced his close-range header into the far corner of the net leaving Jones well beaten.

Newtown continued to seek some form of consolation and on 89 minutes they created, and squandered, their best chance of the match – Roberts burst into the penalty area and from the by-line sent an inviting cross towards the goalmouth where Luke Boundford, in clear space, somehow contrived to slice the ball well wide of the goal.

With two successive well-deserved victories, both without conceding a goal and in each case playing a refreshing brand of football, Carmarthen supporters are, justifiably, beginning to believe (despite the not unexpected TNS defeat) that this season might well be much more enjoyable, and hopefully successful, than the last.

At the very least they can look forward to the next match on Saturday 15thSeptember (k/o 2.30pm) when Town travel to Cefn Druids who currently lie at the foot of the WPL table.     

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Jordan Knott (sub Dave Vincent 46);  Lee Surman; Sean Hanbury;  Mael Davies (sub Jay Woodford 84);  Ceri Morgan;  Greg Walters; Jordan Vickers (sub Craig Hanford 77); Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;

Unused sub:  Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;  

Goals:  Luke Bowen (35, 62);  Liam Thomas (77);  

Cards:  (Y)   Liam Thomas (37);    

 

WPL Matchday 4

 

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Cardiff Met (1 September 2018)

Carmarthen Town (2) Cardiff Met (0)  

Carmarthen deservedly secured their first win of the season thanks to a well-balanced display of resolute, stubborn defending coupled with frequent rapid and clinical counter-attacking – not only was this enough to comfortably subdue the  Met’s normally sharp attacking play, but on occasions their defence was made to look unusually fragile.

Yet the visitors began the match in their customary fashion, enjoying the greater share of possession and methodically making progress upfield.  However they were unable to make any serious early impression on the Town defence which, being well marshalled by the towering Lee Surman, remained disciplined and secure.

Despite that initial pressure, it was not until the 9thminute that the Met managed their first scoring effort when Dan Spencer, on the right flank, crossed the ball into the crowded penalty area where Sam Snaith hit a smart 15 yard volley that ‘keeper Lee Idzi carefully watched fly safely over the bar.

The Old Gold meanwhile were frequently able to break forward from deep positions inside their own half and on 13 minutes they fashioned a decent chance when Luke Cummings surged forward along the right-wing before delivering a searching cross deep into the penalty area where Greg Walters produced a close-range header that ‘keeper Esa Aalto was well-placed to gather safely.

And Town, usually through the craft and determination of Mael Davies, Walters, Ceri Morgan and Cummings, continued to launch penetrating counter-attacks which frontmen Luke Bowen, Liam Thomas and Jordan Vickers eagerly pursued.

While several broke down in the face of some solid Met defending, eventually the Old Gold took the lead in the 35thminute through a smart piece of goal-poaching by Liam Thomas – from the right-wing Cummings sent another fine cross into the penalty area where Town’s all-time top scorer neatly stole the ball off a hesitant defender then from close-range instantly struck an angled volley past Aalto and into the far corner of the net.

Stung by that setback, the visitors were quick to respond – on 37 minutes Spencer raced forward from midfield then struck a rasping 20 yard drive that Idzi, with an impressive full-length save, turned against the top of the post before the ball bounced safely away.

And in the closing moments of the first-half Spencer again surged upfield to reach the by-line then fired an inviting cross towards the far post but saw Snaith wastefully plant his close-range header wide of the goal.

After the interval the Met immediately pressed forward in search of an early equaliser – but through a combination of weak finishing and, more particularly, determined (occasionally desperate) Old Gold defending the home goal was never under serious threat during this spell.  The only notable effort arose on 64 minutes when Will Evans released a speculative long-range strike that Idzi, at full length, turned aside.

However the visitors’ commitment to scoring left them vulnerable to counter-attacks which Town, primarily through the pace and mobility of strikers Thomas and Bowen, were well equipped to exploit.  And in the 64thminute they fully capitalised on this in clinical fashion.

With Carmarthen breaking swiftly out of defence, Walters headed the ball forward to Thomas who sprinted determindely into the penalty area then, after shrugging off a defender, he struck a fierce angled drive that Aalto could only manage to force against the bar – as the ball fell loose Davies was the quickest to react and from close-range he gratefully stabbed it into the unguarded net.

The Met once more launched a series of attacks which, as before, the Old Gold defence successfully withstood – and just ahead of them the industrious midfield unit willingly dropped back to provide a further valuable layer of defensive cover whenever necessary.  As a result, only rarely was Idzi seriously tested and on each occasion the experienced ‘keeper, displaying his customary safe and assured handling, confidently resisted any threat to his goal.

While the play in the closing stages was largely confined to Carmarthen’s end of the pitch, they did produce one notable late counter-attack when on 80 minutes the ball reached Walters just outside the penalty area but he saw his smart 20 yard volley fly narrowly outside the post.

However Town’s primary concern was to protect their lead and secure three valuable points which they comfortably managed.  And it has to be hoped that this encouraging performance, against one of the stronger teams in the WPL, can be repeated and ideally improved on in forthcoming fixtures as Neil Smothers’ new-look side further settles and progresses.

Carmarthen’s next fixture is on Saturday September 8th(k/o 2.30pm) when Newtown visit Richmond Park.

          

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Lee Surman; Jordan Knott;  Sean Hanbury (sub Dave Vincent 71);  Jordan Vickers (sub Declan Carroll 68);  Greg Walters;  Ceri Morgan; Mael Davies (sub Craig Hanford 87); Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;

Unused sub:  Jay Woodford; 

Goals:  Liam Thomas (35);  Mael Davies (64);  

Cards:  (Y)   Greg Walters (43);  Lee Surman (60);    

 

 

 

MG NATHANIEL CUP ROUND 1

 

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Goytre (28 August 2018)

Carmarthen Town (5) Goytre (0)  Nathanial MG League Cup R1

Carmarthen progressed to the second round of the League Cup with this fairly comfortable victory over Welsh League Division One side Goytre who, despite the score-line, provided stern opposition particularly throughout the second-half.

Town made a refreshingly positive start, dominating the midfield and launching a series of rapid, penetrating attacks that kept the visitors’ defence fully occupied. Initially, often due to a poor ‘final pass’, several of those attacks broke down before any scoring opportunities arose yet eventually, after 10 minutes, the hosts went close to taking the lead.  

Luke Cummings directed a long pass through to Luke Bowen just inside the penalty area but from a wide position and with a defender close-by the experienced striker fired the ball narrowly outside the post and into the side netting.

The Old Gold continued to dictate the game with midfielders Mael Davies and Greg Walters, with their pace and vision, particularly influential.  And on 18 minutes a delightful flowing move from the half-way line tore open the Goytre defence.  Possession passed rapidly from Jay Woodford through Walters and out to Cummings on the right-wing – he surged forward then delivered a fine cross into the goalmouth where Bowen saw his powerful close-range header turned aside by ‘keeper Joseph Massaro with a smart reflex save.

It seemed unlikely that the visitors’ goal would survive much longer and, predictably, in the 22ndminute Town went ahead with another sublime, incisive move. From the half-way line Liam Thomas threaded a long pass through to Bowen who raced forward into the penalty area then, unselfishly, set up a fine chance for Walters – he struck a powerful drive that took a huge deflection off a defender but as the ball looped high close to the goal Jordan Vickers, alert to the opportunity, headed it firmly into the roof of the net.  Moments later, after another surging run along the right-wing, Cummings played the ball forward to Thomas just inside the penalty area – he turned sharply past a defender then released a rasping angled shot that Massaro resisted with an impressive point-blank save.

Throughout this spell Goytre, with commendable effort and determination, began to make progress upfield – but they were simply unable to pierce the Old Gold defence in any meaningful way and ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously troubled.

And it was from a huge clearance out of defence that Town extended their lead after 32 minutes – the ball reached Bowen who burst forward along the left flank before sending a precision pass across the edge of the penalty area where Walters arrived with perfect timing and dispatched a stunning drive that left Massaro floundering and the net bulging.

Shortly afterwards the hosts went further ahead.  Thomas, with a masterful pass that split the opposition defence wide open, set Davies racing into the penalty area – he cleverly side-stepped a defender then crisply drilled the ball beyond Massaro’s reach and into the far corner of the goal.

Straightaway Carmarthen, and Davies in particular, were back on the attack – the young midfielder, from the right touchline dispatched a perfectly measured cross into the goalmouth where Bowen, rising high above his marker, sent his close-range header just wide of the post.

By now the Old Gold, displaying irresistible pace and penetration, were in virtually complete command of the game.  And in the 39thminute they added a fourth goal.  Cummings fired a corner-kick deep into the packed goalmouth where Bowen made a timely arrival to rise above defenders and head the ball past Massaro and into the roof of the net.

Then on 43 minutes Cummings again surged forward along the right flank before producing a well-judged cross that reached Thomas, in clear space inside the penalty area, but Town’s top scorer struck his angled volley marginally wide of the goal.

After the interval Carmarthen resumed their domination of the game.  In the 50thminute Davies cut inside from the left flank, effortlessly slipped past a defender then released a smart angled drive that Massaro turned aside with an impressive full-length save. 

The Old Gold continued to press forward and threatened to create scoring chances but they seemed now to have lost their sharpness and confidence in and around the penalty area which had served them well beforehand – slack passing and wasteful finishing led to frustration and disappointment on and off the field.

On 67 minutes a fine pass from Vickers set Woodford racing forward to the edge of the penalty area but his crisp strike flew just wide of the post.  Straightaway Cummings fired a right-wing cross low into the goalmouth only for Bowen to shoot wide from a good position.

Yet in the 75thminute Town did manage to extend their lead – from Declan Carroll’s corner-kick into the packed goalmouth Dave Vincent leapt high above defenders at the far post and planted his close-range header into the roof of the net.

Yet more wayward passing ensued and the urgency and positivity of the Old Gold’s refreshing first-half performance was clearly missing.  Further scoring chances that would quite likely have been converted earlier were now being squandered.

This lacklustre period allowed Goytre the opportunity to press forward much more often, albeit with no evident likelihood of penetrating the home defence – and scoring even a late consolation goal seemed out of the question.

And Lee Idzi?  After being kept fully occupied by TNS throughout the League match on Saturday, he was probably grateful for the chance of a rest this evening!

[Note:   This is the first time in twelve seasons since five different Carmarthen players have scored in a match – the last occasion when this occurred was on April 28th2007 in a WPL fixture at Caernarfon when Town won 5-3 with one of the goals being scored by a certain Danny Thomas!  

 

And the last (possibly only) time that goal-scoring feat was bettered was on October 1st2005 in a Welsh Cup tie at Cardiff Corinthians when Town demolished the home side 11-0 with no less than seven players on the scoresheet two of whom, Mattie Davies and Gary Lloyd, scored hat-tricks – and in two other League matches that season five different players had scored. But that season was notable for something even more significant in Carmarthen’s history – the memorable UEFA Cup matches against Longford Town.    Happy Times!!]

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott (sub Craig Hanford 63); Sean Hanbury;  Greg Walters (sub Declan Carroll 63);  Mael Davies;  Jay Woodford; Jordan Vickers;  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;

Unused subs:  Lee Surman; Ceri Morgan;  

Goals:  Jordan Vickers (22);  Greg Walters (32);  Mael Davies (35);  Luke Bowen (39);                    Dave Vincent (75);            

Cards:  (Y)   Liam Thomas (65); 

 

WPL Matchday 3

 

Match Report – The New Saints v Carmarthen Town (25 August 2018)

The New Saints (6)  Carmarthen Town (0)  

In most recent seasons, while Carmarthen have travelled to The New Saints and suffered defeat they have at least performed creditably enough to keep the score-line respectable – sadly, this was not one of those days.

From the outset the League Champions slipped straight into their familiar game pattern, dominating possession and patiently building pressure before incisively probing the Old Gold defence.  Yet for a while they faced disciplined resistance from the visitors – notably, the central defensive pairing of Lee Surman and Dave Vincent were performing particularly soundly, while behind them ‘keeper Lee Idzi, as usual, demonstrated safe and secure handling whenever necessary.

For those reasons it was not until the 15thminute that the hosts managed their first serious scoring chance – Simon Spender, from wide on the right flank, sent an inviting cross into the crowded goalmouth where Dean Ebbe produced a sharp, close-range header that Idzi, showing remarkable reflexes, punched away.  

The ball was cleared yet fell nicely for Tom Holland – he instantly threaded an excellent pass through to Jamie Mullan who was in clear space inside the penalty area but Idzi was quickly out of his goal to bravely claim the ball at the winger’s feet.

Shortly afterwards the Old Gold fashioned a promising counter-attack which finished with Liam Thomas, on the left flank, firing the ball across the edge of the penalty area to find Declan Carroll who turned smartly past his marker then released a fierce angled volley that flew narrowly beyond the far post.

But that was a fairly isolated moment of Town adventure and it was soon followed by the Saints taking the lead.  On 23 minutes Spender once more burst down the right-wing then delivered the ball into the goalmouth and saw Redmond, completely unmarked, send a powerful header past Idzi and into the roof of the net.

Moments later Mullan, who would continue to torment the visitors’ defence during the rest of the match, sent a neat pass across to Aeron Edwards who hit a stunning 20 yard volley that Idzi, at full-stretch, smartly turned over the bar.

Yet after 29 minutes the Old Gold once more went close to scoring – arising from a rare excursion into the home penalty area the ball was cleared though only as far as Carroll who instantly released a rasping drive that slid just wide of the post.

But once again a Carmarthen opportunity was soon followed by a TNS goal.  On 34 minutes an excellent pass from Daniel Redmond sent Mullan racing free beyond the last defender and into the penalty area – as Idzi advanced from his goal he neatly side-stepped the stranded ‘keeper and, from a very tight angle, cleverly fired the ball into the empty net.

Then as the first-half stretched into added time the hosts went further ahead.  From the half-way line Adrian Cieslewicz fired a long pass forward to Ebbe who sprinted beyond Town’s defensive line to reach the corner of the penalty area – Idzi again was left isolated and, as he advanced, the lively striker lobbed the ball neatly into the unguarded net.

After the interval the earlier pattern of play quickly resumed with the Saints enjoying both the greater share of possession and territorial advantage.  And if the Old Gold had harboured any thoughts of getting back into the game with a quick goal, they were soon dispelled when on 54 minutes TNS went further ahead in clinical fashion.

The visitors’ defence was simply carved wide open when Redmond sent a fine pass forward to Chris Marriott who raced on towards the by-line before delivering a searching cross into the goalmouth where Greg Draper rose high at the far post to head the ball firmly into the roof of the net – opposition players were helpless to intervene.

With another smart passing move after 68 minutes the hosts went close to scoring again – and once more Redmond was involved when he played the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Draper released a fierce volley which Idzi, with a smart save, turned over the bar.

Throughout, Town’s players could not be faulted for their effort and commitment – commendably, they displayed that in abundance.  But that was simply not enough.  All too often their only outlet was to fire the ball upfield towards Luke Bowen who for long spells was operating as a lone striker (since Liam Thomas frequently and necessarily dropped back to assist with defensive duties) but on the few occasions that it reached him, he was easily contained by the Saints’ impressive defenders. 

And the Old Gold went further behind on 71 minutes following yet another incisive raid.  A well-judged, long-range pass from Kurtis Byrne set Mullan racing free along the right touchline – he then fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Cieslewicz, completely unhindered by any defender, had the time and space to easily head the ball past Idzi and into the back of the net.

Then on 79 minutes Town’s defence was again equally accommodating as TNS secured their sixth goal – the ball was fed through to Mullan on the right-wing and he surged forward before lifting an inviting cross deep into the goalmouth to find Draper who, with plenty of time and space, comfortably converted his close-range header.

Thankfully Carmarthen will not have to face teams as strong as the League Champions too often but, having scored just one goal in 270 minutes of football so far this season, it is abundantly clear that this aspect of their game has to be improved – and soon. 

Whether this can be rectified in their next WPL match on Saturday September 1st(k/o 2.30pm) at Richmond Park remains to be seen but, unhelpfully, this is against Cardiff Metropolitan University who currently occupy third place in the League table.  Worryingly, in the only three previous home League fixtures between these teams the Old Gold have failed to score on each occasion!        

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Dave Vincent; Lee Surman;  Sean Hanbury;  Declan Carroll (sub Jordan Vickers 73);  Greg Walters (sub Jay Woodford 78);  Ceri Morgan; Mael Davies;  Luke Bowen (sub Craig Hanford 89);  Liam Thomas;

Unused subs:  Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;  

Cards:  (Y)  Craig Hanford (90+2); 

 

WPL Matchday 2

 

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Llandudno (18 August 2018)

Carmarthen Town (0)  Llandudno (0)

Carmarthen’s first Welsh Premier League match of the season at Richmond Park may have finished goal-less but it more than compensated for that failing by providing a highly entertaining display of attacking football between two well-matched sides that  produced plenty of goalmouth action and a host of scoring chances.    

From the outset the match quickly developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair with both sides looking to break forward at every opportunity.  And after only 3 minutes the visitors managed the first scoring chance when a poor clearance out of the Town defence went straight to Leo Smith who struck a sharp 20 yard drive which flew narrowly over the bar.

But Town responded positively with a series of penetrating counter-attacks, the most promising arising on 7 minutes when Greg Walters initiated a swift, incisive move from the half-way line – having won possession, he played a fine pass through to Luke Bowen who sent the ball out to Jordan Vickers and he raced forward along the right-wing before firing a searching cross deep into the goalmouth where Llandudno defender Ieuan Hewitt, under serious pressure from Bowen, headed the ball just marginally over his own bar to safety.

While the match continued to flow from end to end, for a spell the hosts created the better scoring opportunities largely due to the energy and vision of the midfield quartet Vickers, Mael Davies, Ceri Morgan and Declan Carroll – and they received valuable support from full-backs Luke Cummings and Aidan O’Kelly who eagerly broke forward along the flanks whenever possible.

And it was Davies, hugely impressing on his debut in the Old Gold colours, who engineered another fine chance in the 19thminute.  He took the ball off an opponent near the centre-circle then slipped a neat pass out to Bowen on the right-wing who delivered a measured cross into the penalty area where Liam Thomas released a smart curling shot that went around a defender but slid just wide of the far post.

Although the play remained quite evenly-balanced, Town again went close to taking the lead on 32 minutes when Walters, from well inside his own half, produced a sublime defence-splitting pass that sent Bowen surging towards the penalty area - having outpaced a defender, he struck a fierce drive beyond the reach of ‘keeper Shaun Pearson but saw the ball fly narrowly wide of the goal.

During this time Llandudno had continued to pose a threat with frequent penetrative raids and after 38 minutes they went close to taking the lead.  Following a corner-kick into the packed penalty area the ball reached Hewitt who produced a firm close-range header that defeated ‘keeper Lee Idzi but struck the foot of the post before Thomas, well-placed on the goal-line, cleared the danger. 

Yet the Old Gold produced the final chance of the first-half in the 43rdminute when Lee Surman began a fine sweeping move from deep in defence by firing the ball forward to O’Kelly – he, in turn, sent it neatly across to Thomas, just outside the penalty area, who hit a rasping strike that took a slight deflection off a defender, enough to send the ball marginally wide of the goal.

After the interval the opening period was fairly quiet and uneventful with the play confined to the midfield.  But the game came to life once more when on 60 minutes a superbly measured long pass from Carroll set Bowen racing clear into the penalty area who was denied only by Pearson’s sharp reactions, diving quickly down to claim the ball at the striker’s feet. 

Shortly afterwards, Cummings sent a long cross-field pass to Carroll and he instantly set up a fine chance for Davies who from 20 yards dispatched a stunning angled drive that flew just narrowly beyond the far post.

Immediately Llandudno responded – Hewitt broke forward into the penalty area and hit a fierce shot that took a deflection off a defender which Idzi, demonstrating impressive reflexes, turned aside at full length.

But then in the 79thminute the game, which had been competitive but nothing worse or unusual, suddenly erupted when a confrontation involving several players from both sides arose.  Once that had calmed down, there was a further delay while O’Kelly, prostrate on the ground with a seemingly bad injury, received lengthy treatment before being helped off the field.

The closing stages of the match were, by contrast, fairly uneventful.  While both sides pressed forward in search of a late winning goal, the only decent chance arose on 86 minutes when Walters embarked on a strong run from the half-way line before playing the ball out wide to Carroll – he sent an inviting cross into the crowded goalmouth only to see Pearson smartly punch the ball clear to deny strikers Thomas and Bowen, both close by, a golden scoring opportunity. 

So the Old Gold, while certainly showing distinct improvement in terms of their overall performances, are still searching for that elusive victory to help boost their prospects for a better and more productive opening period of the WPL programme than they experienced last year.  Their next match on Saturday 25thAugust (k/o 2.30pm) would be a good, if unlikely, time to start – they visit perpetual League champions The New Saints.

Then on the following Tuesday (28thAugust k/o 7.45pm) at Richmond Park they entertain Welsh League side Goytre in the Nathaniel MG League Cup 1stRound.                       

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Greg Walters; Lee Surman;  Aidan O’Kelly (sub Jay Woodford 85);  Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 71);  Mael Davies;  Ceri Morgan; Declan Carroll;  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;

Unused subs:  Dave Vincent; Craig Hanford;  

Cards:  (Y)  Luke Cummings (85);  Aidan O’Kelly (85); 

 

 

 

WPL Matchday 1

 

 

Match Report – Bala v Carmarthen Town (10 August 2018)

Bala (2) Carmarthen Town (1)

 

Carmarthen began the new Welsh Premier League season with a very tough encounter against Bala who only a few weeks ago were playing in the Europa League, having finished fourth in the WPL last season – and, in addition, over the summer they have strengthened their squad by signing several experienced players.

From the outset the match soon developed into a fast-paced, end-to-end affair although, with both defences looking quite secure, no serious early scoring chances arose.  Bala were clearly enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage but the Old Gold were quick to launch a series of counter-attacks, exploiting the pace and mobility of strikers Luke Bowen and Liam Thomas.

And it was the visitors, on 12 minutes, who first went close when Aidan O’Kelly played the ball across to Thomas who sent an inviting cross towards the far side of the goalmouth where Jordan Vickers, from a difficult angle, volleyed into the side-netting.

However the hosts straightaway responded with a spell of sustained pressure and after 19 minutes Henry Jones fired a long free-kick into the crowded penalty area only to see Anthony Miley, from a good position, direct his close-range header over the bar.

But in open play Carmarthen’s defence, and in particular the central pairing of Lee Surman and Greg Walters, presented stern resistance and ensured that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested during this spell.

And once again, they were near to opening the scoring when on 25 minutes, from a swift counter-attack led by Luke Cummings, they won a free-kick by the right touchline – Tyrrell Webbe’s searching delivery reached Thomas, rising high above defenders, but from close-range he sent his glancing header just wide of the post.

The earlier pattern of play continued with Bala, despite their possession and attacking flair, looking unlikely to score - meanwhile Town, with a series of counter-attacks, were sadly not sufficiently clinical when opportunities arose.

It seemed that the game needed a moment of something special to break the deadlock and bring it to life – and in the 36thminute Henry Jones provided just that.  He raced into the penalty area, slipped effortlessly past O’Kelly then from close to the by-line produced a remarkable piece of footwork to cross the ball to the far post where Steven Tames arrived, completely unmarked, to send his close-range header into the roof of the net.

The only other notable scoring chance in the first-half arose on 44 minutes when Jones struck a fierce long-range free-kick that Idzi carefully watched slide just outside the post.

After the interval Bala began confidently – but despite enjoying spells of possession, they achieved very little due to the continuing determined resistance of the Old Gold defence.  Town, meanwhile, once more relied on swift, incisive counter-attacking and they went close to snatching an equaliser in the 66thminute when Vickers broke away from the midfield before sending a fine pass through to Bowen who took the ball into the penalty area then struck a rasping angled drive that flew narrowly wide of the post.

Shortly afterwards, the visitors again threatened the Lakesiders’ goal.  From the centre-circle Thomas began a delightful sweeping move when he sent the ball across to Ceri Morgan who in turn slid it out to Webbe as he surged along the left-wing – he then fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Bowen planted his close-range header just beyond the far post.

However that brief spell of Carmarthen pressure was abruptly terminated on 67 minutes when Tames won possession of the ball well outside the penalty area then raced forward and released a smart 20 yard shot that went beyond Idzi’s reach and into the corner of the net.

Stung by that further setback the Old Gold straightaway pressed forward with greater frequency and intensity with influential midfielder Morgan, at his competitive best, always at the heart of the action.

After 69 minutes Bowen surged forward, shrugging off his marker, to reach the penalty area then struck a stunning drive that ‘keeper Ashley Morris resisted with a sharp, reflex save.

Yet with the visitors now pouring upfield more often, their defence began to look more vulnerable – a situation that Bala sought to exploit with occasional counter-attacks.  And on 80 minutes they should have gone further ahead. Kieran Smith took possession off Walters near to the by-line then slid the ball invitingly across the face of the goal where Tames, just two yards out and completely alone, contrived to stab it wide.

That seemed to spur the Old Gold into even greater efforts in their search for a goal – and in the 84thminute their persistence was rewarded.  Bowen played a wonderful pass through to Thomas who raced forward into the penalty area – then as Morris came out of his goal to challenge him, Town’s top scorer neatly threaded the ball across to Sean Hanbury who had the simple task of tapping it into the back of the empty net.

Now, for the first time in the match, Bala were pinned back on defence in a desperate effort to protect their slender lead as Carmarthen swept forward relentlessly.  And on 87 minutes they were close to conceding a second goal.  Webbe raced along the left flank then sent the ball forward to Bowen who fired a dangerous cross deep into the packed goalmouth, eventually reaching Thomas who, sadly, saw his close-range effort cleared off the goal-line by a defender.

But that was the final thrilling moment of an entertaining match – and despite this defeat the Old Gold can be satisfied with their overall performance against a strong, experienced side that will surely be again challenging for honours this season, just as they have done over recent seasons.

Town’s next match is at Richmond Park on Saturday 18thAugust (k/o 2.30pm) when Llandudno make the long journey south for a WPL fixture.      

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Greg Walters; Lee Surman;  Tyrrell Webbe;  Jordan Vickers (sub Sean Hanbury 73);  Declan Carroll;  Ceri Morgan; Aidan O’Kelly;  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;

Unused subs:  Dave Vincent; Craig Hanford;  Jay Woodford;       

Cards:  (Y) Greg Walters (7); 

Goal:  Sean Hanbury (84); 

The Carmarthen Town Training Centre for Girls will now be every Friday on the first class 3G surface at Richmond Park. All girls who want more training, more practice, who want to be the best they can and who love playing football, register now and join us every Friday.
U10s/U12s 5.45pm to 7pm
U14s/U16s 7pm to 8.30pn

If you haven’t already registered follow the link below and complete the form:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeFZ3Bp5wFG72ruyCsHU0Qxz1ihysa_hmQSaEA9D-bImLgY5A/viewform?usp=sf_link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MATCH 6

 

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Llanelli (4 August 2018)

Carmarthen Town (1)  Llanelli (1)

Carmarthen completed their pre-season schedule with this attractive fixture against local rivals Llanelli, the Welsh League champions who are back in the Welsh Premier League for the first time since 2012/13.

In the early stages the visitors enjoyed a significant amount of possession but without making any meaningful forward progress, seemingly content to play simple passes across the field mostly inside their own half.  

The Old Gold, by contrast, showed clear attacking intent on the few occasions that they had the ball and on 4 minutes they produced the first scoring chance of the match.  A swift counter-attack along the right flank finished with Luke Cummings delivering a searching cross deep into the goalmouth where Luke Bowen rose above his marker but saw his firm header crash against the bar before bouncing safely away.

After that brief but welcome moment of excitement the game continued to meander along with the teams largely cancelling each other out in midfield and creating nothing in open play that would stretch the opposition defence – or arouse the crowd.

And, almost inevitably, it was from a set piece that the next chance arose – after 19 minutes Joe Clarke, an increasingly influential figure in Llanelli’s midfield, struck a fierce 25 yard free-kick that ‘keeper Lee Idzi, diving swiftly down at full-length, impressively turned around the post.

Yet it was the Old Gold that eventually took the lead – in the 23rdminute Jordan Vickers delivered a dangerous free-kick into the goalmouth where Greg Walters, rising highest amongst a pack of players, produced a smart header that hit ‘keeper Oliver Davies on the goal-line only for top marksman Liam Thomas, typically alert to a scoring opportunity, to pounce on the rebound and stab the ball into the net.

But even that failed to lift the tempo and pattern of the game which continued to flow back and forth with very few scoring chances emerging.  The visitors were still enjoying the greater share of possession yet, equally, still failing to make much productive use of it.

On 35 minutes Clarke hit a stunning long-range drive that Idzi resisted but failed to claim – yet while the ball rebounded nicely for the unmarked Jordan Follows, from 12 yards he badly squandered the inviting scoring chance.

Then again, in the 43rdminute, another long-range effort from Clarke was blocked by Idzi – this time the rebound went straight to Ross Jones who from 15 yards dispatched a rasping strike that Town’s experienced ‘keeper, recovering swiftly, managed to turn safely aside.

After the interval Llanelli again quickly began to dominate possession – but in contrast to the first-half they showed far more urgency and positive intent and were soon threatening the home goal.  On 48 minutes Chris Jones slid a fine pass through to Kurtis March who burst into the penalty area and slipped neatly past two defenders only to spoil this incisive move by wastefully firing the ball well over the bar from 15 yards.

Moments later Jones, set up another decent scoring opportunity, this time for Follows who had broken clear into the penalty area – but the former Carmarthen striker was denied by Idzi who dived smartly down to smother his angled shot.

During this spell the Old Gold were struggling to get beyond the half-way line in any meaningful way but in the 55thminute they at last managed a scoring effort when Declan Carroll’s long throw-in set Bowen racing forward along the right-wing – he then played the ball inside to Vickers who from the edge of the penalty area dispatched a crisp drive that flew just wide of the post.

But Llanelli’s pressure was close to relentless and they kept the hosts pinned back on defence for significant periods.  On 59 minutes Ross Jones sent a right-wing cross deep into the crowded goalmouth and while the ball was cleared, it went straight to March who again was woefully off-target from 20 yards.

Then after 67 minutes Chris Jones, on the right flank, directed a dangerous free-kick towards the far post to find Clarke rising high above defenders at the far post – he produced a strong close-range header which Idzi resisted with a remarkable reflex save before the ball was cleared to safety.    

  

With Town being forced to defend in depth in the face of such sustained pressure, it seemed improbable that they could contain the visitors much longer – and in the 84thminute Llanelli at last secured a well-deserved equaliser.  James Loveridge, with a fine pass, set Jamie Owen racing clear beyond the defensive line and into the penalty area before neatly slotting the ball beyond Idzi’s reach and into the corner of the net.

The Old Gold, stung by that setback, launched an immediate response – Jay Woodford surged forward along the left-wing then played the ball invitingly across the edge of the penalty area only to see Vickers, from a good position, fire well off-target.

Then deep into added time Aidan O’Kelly’s measured pass sent Cummings charging upfield before he crossed the ball inside to Bowen – he then cleverly side-stepped a defender and set up a wonderful chance for Vickers who released a fierce angled drive that substitute ‘keeper Scott McCoughlin, with a smart full-length save, turned over the bar.              

Carmarthen’s awakening and more urgent, positive play was too little, too late – adopting that approach much earlier in the match might well have resulted in a more favourable outcome.  When valuable points are at stake in the forthcoming Welsh Premier League fixtures this will be crucial.

And the Old Gold’s first WPL fixture is next Friday (10thAugust k/o 7.45pm) when they travel to Bala Town.   

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Greg Walters (sub Jordan Knott 81);   Lee Surman;  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Craig Hanford 81);  Jordan Vickers;  Declan Carroll (sub Jay Woodford 81);  Ceri Morgan; Aidan O’Kelly;  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas (sub Sean Hanbury 54);       

Goal:  Liam Thomas 23;  

 

MATCH 5

 

Match Report – Cinderford v Carmarthen Town (28 July 2018)

Cinderford (1)  Carmarthen Town (1)

Carmarthen returned to Cwmbran Stadium for the second time in this pre-season programme but on this occasion they faced Cinderford from the Southern League Division One (South) - the fourth tier of the English Non-League system.

Only three days beforehand Town supporters had been treated to an entertaining goal-laden performance at a delightfully sunny Richmond Park – however any prospect of that being repeated was soon dispelled.  

The match began in miserable weather conditions with a fierce, swirling wind making ball control, and anything beyond the shortest of passing moves, distinctly challenging – occasional downpours, particularly in the second-half, served to make circumstances even more difficult for both sets of players and much less attractive for the few spectators who had misguidedly imagined that this would be a match worth watching.

The opening stages of this contest were quiet, scrappy and uneventful with the play largely confined to midfield exchanges – there was minimal goalmouth action and neither goalkeeper was seriously tested during this spell.  In fact, Lee Idzi had to wait until the 14thminute for his first meaningful touch of the ball when he had to deal with a rather wayward back-pass from Jordan Knott.  

But just moments later Cinderford took a surprise lead – Old Gold defenders failed to deal with what seemed to be a fairly routine cross from the right-wing and allowed Matt McDonald to reach the ball and fire a close-range angled drive past Idzi and into the back of the net.  And worryingly, that would prove to be the first of several occasions during this match when opposing players would be allowed time and space inside Town’s penalty area. 

However it was not long before Carmarthen were back on level terms.  On 25 minutes, after Luke Cummings was brought down just outside the penalty area, Tyrrell Webbe stepped up to fire an impressive 20 yard free-kick over the defensive ‘wall’ and into the top corner of the net to leave ‘keeper Alex Harris well-beaten.

Yet the hosts soon responded and went close to regaining the lead when after 31 minutes another deep cross into the goalmouth was met by McDonald but this time his smart close-range shot was cleared off the goal-line by Jordan Vickers, intervening with sharp anticipation.

By now the pattern of play had become quite settled with Cinderford managing, despite the conditions, to pass the ball around with more accuracy and purpose, while the Old Gold seemed more disjointed and laboured and lacking invention.

Also, the flow of the game was interrupted, all too often, by an over-fussy referee who even saw fit to show yellow cards to four players for relatively minor infringements – in a pre-season friendly!!

In the second-half very little changed, other than a worsening of the weather conditions.

Cinderford, enlivened by the energy and commitment of six early substitutions, were increasingly enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage – and they were putting noticeable pressure on the Old Gold defence which frequently looked overstretched.

Yet occasional relief was secured through some determined counter-attacking.  On 74 minutes Vickers, from deep inside his own half, embarked on a surging run upfield to reach the corner of the penalty area then dispatched a crisp drive that a defender, just in front of goal, headed safely away.  

Moments later Cummings, with a quickly taken free-kick, put Webbe in clear space and he burst powerfully forward before releasing a rasping 25 yard strike that Harris turned smartly past the post.

But those were rare moments for the visitors to savour.  In the closing stages of the match the play was confined to Carmarthen’s half of the pitch, in and around the penalty area with more desperate defending and several goal-line clearances – on 86 minutes a 20 yard free-kick slid narrowly wide of the post.

However possibly the best moment of the entire match arose in the 90thminute – Cinderford striker Lewis Bamford cut inside from the right-wing, drifted past two defenders then from the corner of the penalty area produced a stunning drive that Idzi, with a quite spectacular flying save, turned over the bar.

This was a match best forgotten!!

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Jordan Vickers;  Jordan Knott (sub Liam Thomas 61);  Lee Surman; Sean Hanbury;  Luke Cummings;  Greg Walters; Ceri Morgan; Jay Woodford (Craig Hanford79);  Luke Bowen; Tyrrell Webbe;       

Goal:  Tyrrell Webbe 25;  

 

 

 

MATCH 4

 

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Ton Pentre (25 July 2018)

Carmarthen Town (8)  Ton Pentre (1)

Carmarthen continued their pre-season schedule by welcoming Ton Pentre to Richmond Park for a match that initially developed into a fairly evenly-balanced affair before the Old Gold produced an astonishing second-half blitz of seven goals inside 22 minutes that overwhelmed the Welsh League side. 

The match began at a lively pace with both sides keen to break forward from midfield – and Town fashioned the first notable chance after just 3 minutes when Luke Cummings sent an inviting right-wing cross into the penalty area only for Jordan Vickers, with time and space, to fire the ball over the bar.

But that disappointment was soon remedied when in the 8thminute Vickers embarked on a determined run along the right flank, outpacing his marker, before firing the ball into the goalmouth where Luke Bowen, arriving with perfect timing, headed it powerfully past ‘keeper Tom Bodger and into the roof of the net.

The visitors responded positively to that early setback and, having kept the Old Gold defence under a short spell of pressure, they snatched an equaliser on 13 minutes.  Lively striker Sam McArthy raced forward to the edge of the penalty area then slipped past Lee Surman rather too easily before neatly sliding the ball beyond the reach of ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the far corner of the net.

In quick succession Town went close to restoring their lead.  After 18 minutes Aidan O’Kelly set up a fine chance for Cummings who saw his rasping 25 yard drive fly narrowly wide of the post – then moments later Tyrrell Webbe’s well-flighted corner-kick reached Bowen beyond the far post and he headed the ball back into the crowded goalmouth where Declan Carroll saw his smart close-range header denied by Bodger’s excellent reflex save.

Meanwhile Ton Pentre, spirited and competitive in midfield, regularly continued to mount counter-attacks, in the face of which the home defence often looked decidedly shaky.  Yet all the significant goalmouth action was occurring at the other end of the pitch.

On 31 minutes Sean Hanbury’s searching left-wing cross was met by Bowen but his promising close-range header was resisted by Bodger, producing another impressive save to turn the ball against the bar.  Shortly afterwards a slick passing move between Webbe and Hanbury produced a further fine chance for Bowen but his glancing header went narrowly off-target. 

And in the closing minutes of the first-half Cummings drove a dangerous right-wing cross towards the near post where Ceri Morgan saw his diving header fly just wide of post.   

After the interval Town quickly began to dominate the play – while enjoying the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, they kept the visitors’ defence under pressure and scoring opportunities soon ensued.

On 53 minutes Morgan surged forward from the centre-circle before releasing a fierce 25 yard drive that left Bodger well beaten but rattled the bar and the ball bounced safely away. 

However shortly afterwards they deservedly regained the lead with a delightful seamless move.  Liam McCreesh, appearing in the Old Gold colours for the first time in five seasons, played a searching long pass forward to Bowen who instantly sent the ball infield to Cummings – he, in turn, fired a dangerous low cross into the goalmouth where Morgan swept the ball home.

Just 60 seconds later the ball was back in the Ton Pentre net again.  Hanbury surged along the left-wing then delivered an inviting cross into the goalmouth to find Cummings arriving with perfect timing to stab the ball past Bodger.

Town’s pressure was relentless – more goalmouth mayhem led to a scramble for the loose ball amongst a crowd of players from which eventually Webbe emerged to drive it into the net from 8 yards. 

Even a flurry of substitutions failed to interrupt the Old Gold’s rhythm and on 63 minutes Liam Thomas slid a short pass through to Hanbury who from 15 yards fired an impressive angled shot into the far corner of the net leaving Bodger well beaten – straight afterwards he was replaced in goal by George Jones, perhaps an act of compassion by the Ton Pentre manager rather than tactical necessity?  

However, only a minute later Jones was picking the ball out of the net – Hanbury, from the left-wing, sent a fine cross into the packed penalty area where a poor defensive clearance was pounced on by Morgan who hit a rasping strike into the far corner of the net.

Still Carmarthen’s relentless pressure continued and in the 76thminute they further extended their lead when O’Kelly finished a strong run towards the penalty area with a neat cross to Carroll who from 15 yards released a crisp volley that flew past Jones and into the net.

Moments later Webbe, on the left flank, made a typically robust run from the half-way line then threaded the ball across the edge of the penalty area and saw Liam Thomas complete this incisive move with a stunning drive that Jones was powerless to resist.

With the goal-fest now complete the final notable action of the match featured McCreesh – still eagerly demonstrating his “competitiveness” even in this pre-season fixture, after a confrontation with a Ton Pentre midfielder he (along with the other player) was forcibly substituted by the referee!!

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Jordan Vickers (sub Craig Hanford 61);  Greg Walters;  Lee Surman (sub Jordan Knott 61);  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Jay Woodford 61);  Declan Carroll (sub Liam McCreesh 46, sub Jordan Vickers 88);  Ceri Morgan (sub Declan Carroll 75);  Aidan O’Kelly;  Sean Hanbury (sub Tyrrell Webbe 75);  Luke Cummings;  Luke Bowen (sub Liam Thomas 61);    

Goals:  Luke Bowen 8;  Ceri Morgan 55, 67;  Luke Cummings 56;  Tyrrell Webbe 58;  Sean Hanbury 63;  Declan Carroll 76;  Liam Thomas 77;      

 

MATCH 3

Match Report – Merthyr Town v Carmarthen Town (16 July 2018)

Merthyr Town (1)  Carmarthen Town (3)  

Carmarthen’s third fixture of their pre-season programme, against Merthyr who operate in the Southern Premier League (the third tier of the English Non-League system), proved to be the most entertaining so far with the Old Gold overturning a one goal deficit and scoring three times inside fifteen astonishing second-half minutes.

The match, on an accommodating 3G surface, quickly developed into a swiftly-flowing, end-to-end affair but with both defences coping quite well under the intermittent pressure no serious goal threat emerged from the initial exchanges.

It was not until the 8thminute that the first chance arose when Merthyr’s Tom Meechan made good progress along the right flank before bursting into the penalty area and firing a sharp angled drive which ‘keeper Lee Idzi resisted, diving smartly down to claim the ball.

Scoring opportunities remained scarce – the earliest threat from the Old Gold arrived after 12 minutes when from their first corner of the match Tyrrell Webbe sent a curling delivery into the packed goalmouth which somehow evaded all players and flew just marginally beyond the far post.

While the home side had initially enjoyed a greater share of possession, from the mid-point of the first-half Carmarthen gradually began building pressure with industrious midfielders Ceri Morgan, Greg Walters and Luke Cummings noticeably influential at the heart of their attacking progress.

On 21 minutes Cummings, on the right-wing, played the ball inside to Walters who raced forward then from 25 yards struck a fierce shot that ‘keeper Kevin Webb spilled – while Luke Bowen was quick to reach the loose ball, from close-range he stabbed it narrowly wide of the goal.

Then in the 31stminute Cummings, again from the right-wing, fired a deep searching cross into the goalmouth where Bowen headed the ball back to Liam Thomas who turned neatly past his marker then hit a crisp, low shot that Webb, at full length, forced around the post. 

Merthyr, having survived that spell of pressure struck back in the later stages of the first-half. On 36 minutes Lee Price, from wide on the right flank, drove a dangerous low cross into the goalmouth but Idzi, alert to the danger as several forwards closed in, dived bravely down to punch the ball clear.

And in the 45thminute the Old Gold’s experienced ‘keeper, who had a spell at Merthyr several years ago, denied his former club once again when Kerry Morgan released a stunning 30 yard strike only to see Idzi turn it around the post with a spectacular flying save.

After the interval the visitors began brightly and fashioned an early scoring chance on 50 minutes when Jordan Vickers lifted a long pass forward to Bowen who shrugged off a defender before dispatching a rasping 20 yard drive that substitute ‘keeper Ed Hewitson claimed on the goal-line.

Moments later Thomas embarked on a determined run infield from the left touchline then played the ball across to Vickers who saw his smart angled volley resisted by Hewitson with another full-length save.

By now, what had easily been Carmarthen’s most fiercely ‘competitive’ encounter of this pre-season had become increasingly confrontational – what might be regarded as useful experience for the season ahead for both teams.  And Ceri Morgan, at the heart of the visitors’ midfield, was in his element!!

Yet in the face of some frequent bursts of attacking play by the hosts the Old Gold defence was, for the most part, performing with confidence and composure – but all that changed in the 59thminute.  Some collective misjudgement and weak passing from several defenders in and around the penalty area allowed Ian Traylor to take possession and slide a 10 yard angled shot past Idzi and into the far side of the net.

However this galvanised Carmarthen into a remarkable resurgence that ended with a comfortable victory.  On 68 minutes Webbe delivered another dangerous corner-kick into the packed goalmouth – the ball rebounded amongst several players before Bowen pounced to smash a close-range volley into the back of the net.

Then after 75 minutes Vickers, from wide on the left flank, slid the ball inside to Bowen who turned smartly past his marker then set up a fine chance for Morgan who from 12 yards released a powerful strike that flew beyond Hewitson’s reach and into the far corner of the goal.

And in the 83rdminute victory was assured.  From deep inside his own half Morgan launched a superb long pass upfield to set Thomas racing forward along the right-wing – he then fired a searching cross into the goalmouth where Bowen arrived with perfect timing to convert a marvellous close-range header before Hewitson could react.

In the remaining time up to the final whistle Carmarthen comfortably protected their advantage.   

This was decent performance against quite a strong side and, perhaps tellingly, it was achieved for the most part with just 12 players – a few absentees, due to injury, will hopefully soon return to strengthen the playing unit for the remaining pre-season fixtures by which time Town supporters will have a good idea of the likely WPL matchday squad and its potential.          

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings;  Dave Vincent (sub Lee Surman 46);  Jordan Knott; Tyrrell Webbe; Greg Walters (sub Ryan Foschi 88);  Ceri Morgan; Aidan O’Kelly;  Jordan Vickers;  Luke Bowen;  Liam Thomas;  

Cards:  None

Goals:   Luke Bowen 68, 83;  Ceri Morgan 75;     


 

 

 

MATCH 2

Match Report – Carmarthen Town v Pontypridd (14 July 2018)

Carmarthen Town (1)  Pontypridd (2)

After the relatively comfortable victory which Carmarthen enjoyed in their opening pre-season friendly against Cwmbran, they faced a much sterner challenge from Welsh League Division One side Pontypridd who demonstrated the value, particularly in the second-half, of converting chances whenever they arise.  And in the end the Old Gold were left to reflect on all the decent scoring opportunities they squandered, while the visitors will surely have applauded the outstanding performance of goalkeeper Dave Burnett.

Manager Neil Smothers was able to select from the majority of the squad that appeared at Cwmbran with, in addition, striker Luke Bowen who had made such a significant impact in last season’s WPL second-phase following his January transfer from Port Talbot.

The opening stages of the match were fairly quiet and uneventful with the play confined largely to midfield exchanges.  Carmarthen eventually fashioned the first scoring opportunity on 5 minutes when Aidan O’Kelly threaded the ball through to Jordan Vickers but his optimistic 30 yard strike was comfortably gathered by Burnett.

The visitors responded after 8 minutes, forcing a corner that Danny Hooper delivered into the packed penalty area where Luke Gullick saw his smart close-range header fly just wide of the near post.  Moments later Vickers, from the right flank, sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth but with Tyrrell Webbe racing in for a simple tap-in opportunity Burnett just managed to punch the ball safely away.

The roles were then reversed in the 16thminute when Webbe finished a determined run along the left wing with a deep cross to the far side of the goalmouth only for Vickers, though well-placed, to blaze the ball high over the bar.

Although during the rest of this half the play generally remained quite evenly-balanced with the teams largely cancelling each other out in midfield, the Old Gold were enjoying slightly more possession and territorial advantage – and they were looking the more likely side to score.

On 36 minutes Luke Cummings orchestrated a fine attack down the right flank which finished with Ceri Morgan’s astute pass setting up a chance for O'Kelly but from 25 yards he fired the ball wastefully high.

Then in the 42nd minute Jordan Knott, from inside his own half, began a delightful sweeping move involving Cummings, Greg Walters and eventually Liam Thomas who struck a rasping 20 yard drive that Burnett, at full length, turned around the post. Webbe sent the resultant corner into the crowded goalmouth only for Morgan to direct his close-range header narrowly wide.

And in the final minute of the first-half Cummings made another typically storming run along the right-wing before firing a searching cross into the congested penalty area where Thomas, from 12 yards, leapt high above defenders only to direct a fine glancing header beyond Burnett’s reach but just over the bar.

After the interval, however, the pattern of the game changed with Pontypridd quickly getting into their stride and putting early pressure on the home defence with a series of penetrating attacks.

And they soon found success when on 55 minutes Aidan Lewis sent a corner deep into the packed goalmouth where Gullick rose above several defenders to plant his firm close-range header past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.

Shortly afterwards the visitors’ lively striker went close again when he burst forward and struck a fine 20 yard drive that Idzi resisted with an impressive full-length save.

Yet their persistence was eventually rewarded in the 62ndminute when they again exploited Carmarthen’s apparent vulnerability defending corners with Lee Hartshaw finding space inside the crowded goalmouth and forcing the ball into the net.

Stung by that further setback the Old Gold, commendably, were quick to retaliate – moments later Thomas played a sublime through-ball to Bowen who from 20 yards hit a stunning shot that Burnett, with a fine save, turned around the post.  Moments later Vickers sent a right-wing cross deep into the goalmouth where Bowen saw his promising close-range header forced aside by Burnett’s excellent reflex save.

The match had by now opened up and developed into an enthralling end-to-end affair.

On 74 minutes Webbe, after a quickly-taken corner, received a smart pass from O'Kelly and fired an angled drive that flew just marginally too high.  And the hosts went on to force numerous corners none of which, sadly, were used to good effect.

But from another set-piece they did threaten the visitors’ goal – twice.  O'Kelly struck a fierce 25 yard free-kick which was beaten out by Burnett but the ball went straight to Walters who immediately sent it back into the goalmouth where Thomas produced a smart header which the increasingly busy ‘keeper managed to turn around the post.

Moments later Thomas won possession in midfield and instantly played the ball out to Bowen on the right-wing – he burst forward then sent an inviting cross into the penalty area where Thomas had continued his run and, arriving with perfect timing, he dispatched a crisp drive that narrowly skimmed the bar.

Yet eventually, in the 89thminute Town were rewarded for their effort and persistence.  After a strong run by Knott along the left-wing he slid the ball across to O'Kelly on the edge of the penalty area who instantly sent it over to Thomas on the far side of the goalmouth – he in turn headed it back to Bowen who clinically powered the ball past Burnett and into the corner of the net.

But this was too little, too late and the Old Gold slumped to a disappointing defeat.  While results in pre-season fixtures are of no real importance, performances certainly are – and with the start of the WPL season just four weeks away some evidence of progressive improvement during in the forthcoming PSF matches would be very welcome.  

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Luke Cummings (sub Jordan Knott 70);  Dave Vincent; Lee Surman;  Jordan Knott (sub Luke Bowen 46);  Greg Walters (sub Ben Jones 57);  Ceri Morgan (sub Ryan Foschi 84);  Aidan O’Kelly;  Jordan Vickers (sub Greg Walters 79);  Liam Thomas;  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Craig Hanford 82);      

Cards:  None

Goal:   Luke Bowen 89;     

 

 

 

 

MATCH 1

Match Report – Cwmbran v Carmarthen Town (9 July 2018)

Cwmbran (0)  Carmarthen Town (4)

Carmarthen opened their pre-season programme against Cwmbran, a club that for many years performed with distinction in the League of Wales and the formative years of the Welsh Premier League (notably, among their former players are Carmarthen Town managers past and present!!).  The club were eventually relegated from the top tier at the end of the 2006/7 season and they now operate in the Gwent County League Division One.  

Town’s squad for this fixture comprised almost all the regulars that appeared during the relatively successful second-phase programme last season (only Luke Bowen was absent while Lewis Harling was unavailable due to the continuing injury problems that have plagued him for much of the past two seasons – and of course Kieran Lewis, Dan Sheehan, Clayton Green and Mark Jones have now left the Club.  

In addition there were first appearances for new signings Declan Carroll, Greg Walters, Tyrrell Webbe and Jordan Vickers (Sean Hanbury and Lewis Baldwin were absent) – two triallists, Ben Jones (from Newport) and Jay Woodford (from AFC Llwdcoed), were given starts along with Ryan Foschi from Town’s development squad.    

 

The opening stages of this game were fairly uninspiring and uneventful with the play largely confined to midfield exchanges and though the Old Gold were immediately looking the more positive side, they were initially unable 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 Carmarthen began showing more promise and adventure going forward and 

on 13 minutes they fashioned the first notable chance of the match when, from one of a series of corners, Luke Cummings’ searching delivery was met by Liam Thomas who saw his smart glancing header slide narrowly wide of the far post.

Then after 20 minutes Tyrrell Webbe, who had already on several occasions demonstrated impressive pace and strength on the ball, produced a speculative long-range shot that ‘keeper Luca Bullock just managed, at full-stretch, to claim at the top corner of his goal.

Shortly afterwards, much less commendably, Bullock raced out of his penalty area and recklessly brought down Thomas who had broken clear through the home defence – on any occasion other than a pre-season friendly this would surely have merited a ‘red card’ but in the event the ‘keeper, after lengthy treatment for an injury sustained in that challenge, had to be substituted.

And perhaps justice was done when substitute ‘keeper Namir Queni’s first involvement was to pick the ball out of his net after Declan Carroll had converted the free-kick with an impressive fiercely-driven strike.

Up until this stage the Old Gold had looked sound and secure in dealing with Cwmbran’s occasional attacking bursts, ensuring that ‘keeper Lee Idzi was never seriously tested.  In particular the familiar central pairing of Jordan Knott and Lee Surman were performing with confidence and composure, while on the flanks Ben Jones and Webbe coupled sound defensive work with a willingness to burst forward with good effect at every opportunity.    

 

Yet directly after conceding that goal the hosts managed their first genuine scoring chance when on 30 minutes Kofi Rowe raced unmarked into the penalty area only to fire a weak shot from 15 yards that Idzi comfortably gathered. 

 

Then in the closing stages of the first-half Town increased the tempo of their game still more, driven by the energy and vision of midfielders Ceri Morgan, Cummings, Carroll and Greg Walters.  And in the 42ndminute they went close to extending their lead when Carroll fired the ball into the penalty area where Aidan O’Kelly turned smartly past two defenders before releasing a sharp drive that defeated Queni but slid narrowly outside the post.    

After the intervalmanager Neil Smothers made multiple changes to the line-up yet the same pattern of play, with the Old Gold largely dominating proceedings, soon emerged.

And, almost inevitably, on 62 minutes they secured a well-deserved second goal – O'Kelly, from wide on the right flank, delivered a searching cross deep to the far post where Jay Woodford rose high above his marker and directed a firm header over Queni and into the top corner of the net.

More Town pressure led to further scoring opportunities.  After 66 minutes Webbe embarked on another surging run to the edge of the penalty area before playing the ball neatly across to O'Kelly who dispatched a crisp 20 yard strike that flew just marginally too high. 

Then on 75 minutes, following another raft of substitutions, Carroll again found the net when from 25 yards he produced a delightful curling shot that sailed into the top corner leaving Queni well beaten.      

And, commendably, the Old Gold continued to press forward in the face of some fairly resolute Cwmbran defending until they managed a further late goal – in the 87thminute Jordan Vickers made a determined run along the left wing, outpacing defenders, then cleverly sent the ball across the edge of the penalty area where Thomas was arriving with perfect timing to hit a stunning drive that left Queni floundering and the net bulging - Town’s all-time record 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.

Carmarthen’s next pre-season match is against Pontypridd Town at Richmond Park on Saturday 14thJuly (k/o 2.30pm).

 

Team:

Lee Idzi;  Ben Jones (sub Craig Hanford 46);  Jordan Knott (sub Lee Surman 68);  Lee Surman (sub Dave Vincent 46);  Tyrrell Webbe (sub Ryan Foschi 68);  Luke Cummings (sub Ben Jones 73);  Ceri Morgan (sub Declan Carroll 68);  Greg Walters (sub Jay Woodford 46);  Declan Carroll (sub Jordan Vickers 46);  Liam Thomas; Aidan O’Kelly (sub Greg Walters 68);     

Cards:  None

Goals:   Declan Carroll 29, 75;  Jay Woodford 62;   Liam Thomas 87;      

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