Haverfordwest County 1
Carmarthen Town 2
CARMARTHEN completed their pre-season programme with a narrow victory over old rivals Haverfordwest after a competitive and often feisty encounter, which presented a suitably stern test for the Old Gold ahead of their opening match of the Welsh Premier League season.
From the outset, Town took the initiative with a series of brisk raids that put the home defence under early pressure. However, it was not until the eighth minute that they fashioned a serious scoring opportunity when Kyle Bassett made ground down the right flank and played the ball across the edge of the penalty area, where Lewis Harling slipped neatly past his marker and struck a crisp drive that was denied by keeper Wyn Walters with a smart full-length save.
During this spell, County were limited to only occasional counter-attacks, none of which made any real impression on the visitors’ defence, in which the towering central pairing of Dwaine Bailey and Lee Surman were, throughout the match, a particularly commanding presence.
In fact, the hosts had to wait 22 minutes before they managed to get into the Carmarthen penalty area and create a scoring chance; a long cross-field pass from Luke Harris reached Kristian Speake near the far post but he directed his header wide of the goal.
The Old Gold continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, yet, all too often, they spoilt promising approach play with an indecisive ‘final pass’.
However, they went close to taking the lead on 29 minutes when Bassett sent a well-flighted corner into the packed goalmouth to find Liam Thomas, whose deft glancing header from 10 yards flew past Walters but also, sadly, went narrowly wide of the post.
By now, Haverfordwest were looking much more of a threat on the counter-attack and after 31 minutes, rather against the run of play, they opened the score. Following Chris O’Sullivan’s corner, Ashley Bevan emerged from a crowd of players to send his close-range header beyond the reach of keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.
Stung by that setback, Town again pressed forward, now with even greater urgency, driven by the midfield industry and invention of Harling, Ceri Morgan, Kieran Lewis and Declan Carroll.
Faced by a resilient County defence and with Walters demonstrating assured and safe handling under pressure, the visitors were unable to create any notable goal threat until the 47th minute when Lewis fired a diagonal free-kick deep into the penalty area where Matthew Thomas, from a sharp angle, struck a fierce volley fractionally wide of the post.
After the interval, the Old Gold renewed their assault on the home defence and on 50 minutes, they went close to equalising when Harling’s astute pass put Carroll in clear space and from 20 yards he dispatched a rasping drive that Walters was well placed to claim.
Just moments later, Town produced a sparkling 90 second spell which turned the game around. In the 53rd minute, Lewis played an excellent through balla to Matthew Thomas who quickly moved forward to the corner of the penalty area and released a stunning angled shot that flew past Walters and into the back of the net.
Shortly after the re-start, Carroll, clearly relishing this opportunity to compete against his former County teammates, showed keen anticipation to race into the penalty area and dart between two less alert defenders to reach a long cross from the right flank then plant his firm close-range header beyond the keeper’s reach.
While the visitors continued to hold the initiative, Haverfordwest remained a threat on the counter-attack and after 62 minutes, Tom Wellington sent a searching free-kick into the packed goalmouth only to see Bevan fire the ball just wide from close range.
On 65 minutes, Liam Thomas collected a long clearance from Dave Vincent then raced forward down the right flank before driving a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Mark Jones, under pressure from a defender, stabbed the ball narrowly wide.
During the second-half, the Carmarthen defence was so relatively secure that Idzi was rarely tested. However, in the 68th minute, Rhys Dalling took advantage of some hesitancy in the back-line to break through to the edge of the penalty area and drill a low shot that drew an impressive reflex save from Town’s experienced keeper.
Then Carroll again went close after 72 minutes when, having won a free-kick some 25 yards from goal, he stepped up to power the ball just fractionally over the bar.
In the 83rd minute, a slick exchange of passes between Carroll and Jones on the edge of the penalty area opened up the County defence and allowed the lively midfielder to hit a smart close-range effort that was blocked on the line by substitute keeper Sam Franklin.
Lighthouse to Lifeboat station swim a huge success
A LLANELLI man has completed a grueling swim across the Loughor estuary from Whiteford Lighthouse to Burry Port Harbour to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).
Matthew Jenkins completed the swim on Sunday, July 26.
Speaking on the challenge he set himself, Matthew said he set his sights on the swim to give him something positive to focus on during these unprecedented times and raise vital funds for Burry Port RNLI.
The Swim was a family effort with Matthew’s two daughters also pitching in to sell RNLI cupcakes to supporters and bystanders near the lifeboat house.
The conditions were far from ideal on the day with a 7.2 metre tide accompanied by whitecaps waves and a south to southwesterly wind behind Matthew of approximately 20 mph.
However there was plenty of support from safety teams in the area to step in if needed with jet skis, kayaks and boats all keeping within safe distance.
Matthew set off on his challenge at approximately 10.45 and shortly afterwards supporters could see he was already past the halfway point.
The support shown from the beach was huge and it was obvious to all that Matthew was able to hear the chants of support and praise from those at the beach.
On completion of the challenge Matthew raised his hands as a thank you gesture for all of his support throughout the journey.
This small event has brought back a familiar feeling without the town of pre-pandemic days where events like these would be hugely supported by the community.
It was clear to see the support for both Matthew and Burry Port RNLI throughout the day.
A grand total of £822.25 was raised through Matthew’s Just Giving page.
Matthew has praised all of those who have supported him through the journey both in the water and on land and said he feels very ‘thankful’ for the support and the opportunity to complete the challenge.
Swans grab last gasp play-off spot
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.
Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.
The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.
But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.
John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.
Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.
Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.
Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.
But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.
However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.
Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.
With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.
Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.
With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.
Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.
They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.
The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.
And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.
Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.
Glamorgan launch new kit
GLAMORGAN Cricket has unveiled its new Vitality Blast playing kit for the 2020 season.
Designed by the Club’s official kit supplier, Masuri, alongside Glamorgan’s management, players and coaches, the brand-new Vitality Blast strip contains a subtle Welsh twist.
Fitting Glamorgan’s traditional colour schemes, the top is dark navy with a tonal dragon across the front – a nod to the old Glamorgan nickname and the Welsh identity – while a sharp yellow trim on the neck and sleeves frames the top.
The famous ‘Daff’ sits on the heart of the shirt, with MiPost’s strong Welsh brand centre-stage. Appearing on the collars are the logos of ‘Official Players Car Partner’, Mon Motors and Welsh company, Philtronics Solutions, with Discover Leeks on the right sleeve and SA Group on the back.
The famous Aston Martin logo features on both side of the Glamorgan T20 cap, as they continue their ongoing support of the club.
Head of Commercial, Huw Warren, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Masuri throughout the design process and together developed an exciting new kit we’re sure our supporters will love with its strong connections with Wales.
“Our Masuri kits have always been hugely successful with players and fans alike and we look forward to continuing our commercial partnership with them.
“We can’t wait to see our players wearing the new kit when the Blast gets underway later this summer.”
Masuri CEO, Sam Miller, said: ‘’Once again it has been a pleasure working with the team at Glamorgan to bring this year’s kit to life, and we are looking forward to seeing it in use during the much anticipated Vitality Blast this year.’’
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