Llanelli Town AFC 4
AFC Porth 0
IT WAS touch and go as to whether the Reds’ game against AFC Porth got underway on Saturday (Jan 21), following an evening of heavy frost.
Eddie Donne and his team did a remarkable job of heating up the pitch with Heath Robinson materials and just before 2pm, the officials gave the thumbs up for the game. It was still bitterly cold despite the beautiful sunshine and blue sky over Stebonheath as the Reds took on AFC Porth in what looked on paper to be a tough match for the Reds.
As most visiting teams have found out this season, what it looks like on paper and what it looks like on the beautifully green Stebonheath turf is a completely different story. New signing James Loveridge was on the bench and that man Lee Trundle was in the starting 11. It didn’t take long for Trundle to bring some warmth to the Stebo crowd.
Despite being marked by at least three men wherever he went and after being bundled over a couple of times, he was gifted a free kick on the edge of the box. He curled the ball around a few players and although it looked like it may have taken a slight deflection off a Porth player, Trundle was credited with the goal.
Jordan Follows looked a little more comfortable and confident on the ball with the return of his more physical partner in crime and just before half time, Follows found plenty of space down the left running at pace to belt the ball past the Porth keeper to make it 2-0 to Llanelli AFC at half time. The unbeaten run didn’t really look to be in much danger and despite Porth sitting close to the top of League Division 2, they really looked to be the underdogs and lacked the bark and bite to worry the in-form Reds side.
Following a welcome cup of tea and a cheeky garibaldi, the supporters and the teams ventured back out into the cold but sunny stadium for the second half. James Loveridge came on as substitute and it was easy to see why he had been signed. He showed plenty of pace and made some blistering runs in front of the stand, much to the approval of the home fans. He combined with Trundle on a couple of occasions and came close to scoring and if it weren’t for the skills of the Porth keeper, he could have had at least two goals. ‘Coulda shoulda woulda’, as my deputy editor says, is not good enough. It was Lee Bevan who put his head to a beautiful cross, sending the ball past a grasping Porth keeper for the third goal of the match. The Reds ‘coulda’ been forgiven for taking their feet off the gas with a 3-0 lead but this team wanted to totally defrost the crowd as they turned up the heat another notch as gas mark number 10 Lee Trundle slotted home the final goal to make the final score Llanelli Town AFC 4 – AFC Porth 0.
Following the game, The Herald spoke to some of the people involved at Stebo, including Director David Craddock. We asked him what the prospects for the Reds were, given their unbeaten run. He said: “It was an excellent win against tough opposition. They were very physical but we played exceptionally well.
“Next week, we will have to run and run against a good professional outfit, The New Saints. James Loveridge is a new signing and he has pace. I have known him and his family for a number of years. He is a Llanelli boy and that is important for us.
“The club is very buoyant and everything is going well. We have some great staff in the background. This is our best ever season. We are hoping to get the academy going next year and we hope to incorporate 15 teams next year – boys and girls.”
Speaking after the game, Llanelli manager Andy Hill said: “There was a bit of doubt about the pitch this morning but Eddie did a great job in getting it ready.
“It was a good win and we are really pleased. We have had three clean sheets on the bounce but the game against New Saints will be a massive task. James Loveridge looked sharp today and hopefully he can get more game time.
“We are training twice this week to prepare for the cup match. We have a full strength squad and that is a great position to be in.”
Lee Trundle is available for Llanelli duty next week. Speaking to The Herald after the game, he said: “We expected a tough game from one of the top league clubs but we dominated from start to finish.
“James Loveridge showed some presence when he came on. He hasn’t had any games and he hasn’t had much training time but with a couple of games under his belt, he will be a great signing.
“I am available to play next week because the Swans are playing on Sunday. We will go to the Saints believing that we can win the game. “
Llanelli are now unbeaten in the league and in the cup. They sit at the top of League Division 2 with 37 points.
Errors prove costly for Raiders
West Wales Raiders 16
North Wales Crusaders 56
By Ian Golden at Stebonheath Park
NORTH Wales Crusaders’ play-off hopes took a boost on Saturday after taking advantage of West Wales Raiders’ many errors to earn to a large win.
The Wrexham-based side will go into their last two games full of confidence but know they’ll have a tougher outing at Newcastle Thunder in a fortnight.
Their first try came on 11 minutes when Ben Stead forced his way through, and the lead was soon doubled after Dave Eccleston dived through a gaping hole in Raiders’ back-line. Stead converted to put the score on 10-0.
West Wales were close to getting a try back midway through the first half after winning a repeat set near to the North Wales line. Ash Bateman was close following a good run from Archie Snook, but the ball was forced off him when diving for the line.
Crusaders made them pay. From the resulting scrum, a 90-metre set culminated in Warren Thompson scoring under the sticks and Stead converting.
Raiders hit back on the half-hour. Regaining the ball on halfway after Snook bravely collected a kick from close range, Phil Cowburn sneakily slipped the ball back to Mitch Shaw who dived under the sticks. Cowburn converted.
Crusaders struck back when Steven Roper couldn’t believe his luck and even hesitated when he saw a gap he could easily run through to score a try. He added the extras himself.
There was controversy with the next score. The referee initially awarded a scrum to Crusaders but after consultation, he gave Crusaders a penalty and Matthew Reid scored from that set.
And it went from bad to ridiculous on the half-time hooter after Sam Baker spilled the ball inside his own goal area allowing Alex Eckley to touch down easily. Roper missed both kicks but Crusaders were 30-6 up.
They added to their lead on 47 minutes in a try they had to work hard for. Raiders were defending well but Joe Ryan finally managed to break through before Lewis Fairhurst converted.
Raiders were unlucky not to a try back on the hour when Baker was pushed into touch when diving for the line. Crusaders went straight back up-field and after winning a penalty, Dante Monte-Samuels crashed over. Fairhurst’s kick just made it through the posts despite the wind taking it wide and Crusaders were 42-6 up.
There were five full Wales internationals in the game, two of them with Crusaders, but it took until the 68th minute before one got on the scoresheet. Rob Massam, the North Wales winger was sent over in the corner. Fairhurst missed the kick.
Then, after regaining the ball from kick-off, one of the West Wales trio scored and it was typically Steve Parry, diving low from dummy half. Cowburn sliced the kick wide.
In the set after that was a rare Crusaders error. Snook did well to beat his marker to score, much to the delight of his mother on the PA system! Cowburn converted.
But it was Crusaders who ended on a high as Massam crossed for two more in the left corner. Shaw did cross for Raiders in the last move of the game but it was chalked off for a forward pass.
Town too good for Dafen
DAFEN Seconds suffered defeat on Saturday (Aug 17) as they were beaten by Briton Ferry Town.
The game was reduced to 40-overs a side because of earlier rain and when Dafen won the toss they elected to field.
However, Briton Ferry racked up an impressive score of 225-4 in those 40 overs.
Amar Waseem and Neil Baggridge shared 146 runs for the first wicket as both reached their half centuries.
Waseem fell for a score of 68 and Baggridge for 63 as Dafen looked to hit back and keep the runs down.
Adeel Khan made a score of 22 while Aman Tasnem made 25 from 14 balls with a four and two sixes before he was run out.
Adrian Mainwaring then finished not out on 27 as Dafen were set 226 to win the game.
Dafen lost Oliver Evans early on to the bowling of Nabel Iqbal and he also claimed the wickets of Harvey Jones (12) and Jonathan Griffiths (14).
He then claimed a fourth with the wicket of Luke Dunning as Dafen’s reply faltered.
Rhys Marchant made a score of 14 before being bowled by Mumtaz Hussain and he also claimed a further three wickets.
Aadil Mukhtar hit three fours and a six in his score of 22 but he was then bowled by Adeel Khan.
Andrew Herbert finished unbeaten on 15 but it wasn’t enough as Dafen were bowled out for 133.
Llanelli close the gap
LLANELLI closed the gap to second placed Tata Steel on Saturday (Aug 17) as they beat them by eight wickets.
Llanelli elected to field on winning the toss and they were able to bowl Tata out for 117.
Chris Thomas trapped Kelvin Bartle leg before early on and Steven Devonald did the same to Rohan Herbert to leave the visitors on 13-2.
Morgan Jones and Martin Lewis then made a good partnership worth 57 runs.
That was brought to and end though as Lewis was caught by Rhidian Morgan off the bowling of Iwan Rees.
Jones had made a score of 38 but he was then bowled by Jac Rees as Tata slipped to 72-4.
That became 78-5 when Phillip Taylor was trapped leg before by Iwan Rees.
The same bowler then had Joseph Crocket caught by Morgan as wickets continued to fall.
The score soon read 94-7 as David Richards caught and bowled Sean Holley.
Nathan Ferrell made a late score of 10 but then saw himself caught by Morgan off the bowling of Richards who then also had Adam Jardine caught by Devonald.
Richards then claimed his fourth as he had Damien Williams stumped by Morgan to finish with figures of 4-13.
That left Llanelli needing 118 for victory and although they lost Ioan Phillips early on in their reply they were never really troubled.
Iwan Rees and Craig Howells shared 87 runs for the second wicket to all but give the home side victory.
Howells hit eight fours and a six as he scored 50 but he was then caught by Morgan Jones off the bowling of Damien Williams.
Rees and Ryan Nicholas then saw their side to victory with Nicholas finishing unbeaten on 19 with two fours and a six from his 14 balls faced.
Rees finished not out on 33 as Llanelli reached their target with plenty of time to spare.
The win moves them to within 14 points of second placed Tata Steel with two games remaining.
The first of those games takes place on Saturday (Aug 24) when Llanelli travel to Bronwydd. They then finish the season at home to third placed Maesteg Celtic.
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