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.
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 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!!
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 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!!
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 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.
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;
Goals: Luke Bowen 68, 83; Ceri Morgan 75;
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.
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);
Goal: Luke Bowen 89;
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).
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);
Goals: Declan Carroll 29, 75; Jay Woodford 62; Liam Thomas 87;