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Old Gold fall to Bala defeat

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Carmarthen Town 0

Bala 1

CARMARTHEN’S outstanding start to their Welsh Premier League second-phase programme, along with their six-match unbeaten run, were brought to an abrupt halt on Saturday, February 18, with this narrow defeat against a strong Bala side who lie in second place in the league and are themselves enjoying a sequence of just one defeat in 17 games.

The Old Gold were far from disgraced and the outcome of this match could have been so different if they had not made such an awful start, conceding a poor goal in the opening stages – after that shock they soon recovered and for the remaining 75-80 minutes the play was far more evenly balanced, with both sides enjoying spells of pressure.

From the outset the visitors swarmed forward, putting immediate and sustained pressure on the Town defence which looked uncharacteristically hesitant and disorganised.

After only two minutes Bala took the lead when David Thompson’s huge throw-in caused confusion in the crowded penalty area where Kieran Smith took advantage to fire the ball crisply past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.

The Lakesiders again went close on 4 minutes – Anthony Stephens’ corner was met by Stuart Jones who saw his firm header deflected just wide of the post. But from thereon Town gradually began to find their customary rhythm, spirit and discipline.

The defence, and in particular the formidable central pairing of Lee Surman and Dave Vincent, increasingly showed greater composure and resilience, while in midfield key players Kieran Lewis, Ceri Morgan and Declan Carroll were using their energy and vision both to disrupt the visitors’ attacking momentum and create opportunities for lively strikers Liam Thomas and Liam Griffiths to exploit with their pace and movement.

Throughout the rest of the first-half the game was more open and evenly balanced with the play shifting briskly from end to end – but with both defences performing soundly there were very few clear scoring chances.

However on 25 minutes the hosts narrowly avoided conceding again when a low cross from Ryan Wade took a huge deflection off a defender that sent the ball dangerously high towards the goal, only for Idzi to produce a stunning reflex save, clawing the ball onto the top of the bar and safely behind.

The Old Gold’s first notable effort arose in the 31st minute when Carroll slid a fine pass through to Griffiths who raced forward to the edge of the penalty area and turned smartly past his marker before hitting a fierce drive that flew marginally wide of the post.

Then on 35 minutes Carroll’s corner-kick into a packed goalmouth reached Thomas who, from 8 yards, cleverly chipped the ball over several defenders but ‘keeper Ashley Morris stretched high to claim it just under the bar.

After the interval the same pattern of play quickly emerged but for a long period the game was fairly uneventful and rather scrappy.

Then midway through the second-half manager Mark Aizlewood made his intentions clear when, in a 10 minute spell, he brought on three attack-minded substitutes Luke Cummings, Kyle Bassett and Matthew Thomas to inject more pace and flair into Town’s search for an equaliser.

In the 79th minute that was almost achieved – Cummings launched a long throw into the penalty area to find Morgan who from 10 yards drilled the ball through a crowd of players only for Morris to react instinctively and kick it off the goal-line to safety.

With the Old Gold pressing forward so enthusiastically, Bala were now looking more of a threat on the counter-attack and on 85 minutes they went close to extending their fragile lead – Wade cut inside from the right flank and drove the ball across the face of the goal but saw Bassett, alert to the danger, race back into the goalmouth and make a timely clearance.

Then after 91 minutes Town’s flying winger demonstrated his searing pace at the other end of the pitch when he burst through the Bala defence and into the penalty area only for Morris to rescue his side once more by quickly coming out of his goal and diving down to block Bassett’s 15 yard angled drive.

But deep into added time the visitors again threatened when, with the Old Gold defence stretched, Wade raced clear to the edge of the penalty area and as Idzi, who had clearly been hampered by a leg injury for some time, struggled to come out to challenge him the striker fired towards the unguarded goal only for the ball to drift just wide of the far post.

While this result was disappointing, Town’s performance (after the initial disastrous lapse) was certainly not – and to have secured six points in their opening second-phase fixtures against unquestionably the three strongest teams in the WPL was both highly commendable and unexpected.

Carmarthen, currently occupying fifth place in the league, next have an important away fixture against sixth-placed Cardiff Met on Saturday, March 4, (k/o 2.30pm).

A repeat of their stunning victory there on New Year’s Eve would be both very welcome and a big step towards securing that League position at the end of the season.

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Sport

Stars earn first win

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Run: A Stars player sets off on another run in their win over Llandeilo. Photo by Darren Harries​

New Dock Stars • 17
Llandeilo • 10
League 3 West B

THE N​EW DOCK STARS earned their first win of the season ​last Saturday (Sept 30) as they beat Llandeilo 17-10.

The game was held up for around half an hour as Matthew Daniels had to be taken to hospital with a broken leg. The Herald understands that Matthew has had an operation on his leg and all at the Herald wish him a speedy recovery.

The Dock took the lead after 20 minutes with a try in the corner by centre Gareth Williams and the conversion by Liam Doran was successful.

They extended their lead to 12-0 shortly after with a try from number 8 Dylan Jones.

The game was then held up as Daniels was hurt shortly before half time and he had to be stretchered off the field.

Llandeilo hit back to make it 12-10 before a barnstorming run by the highly impressive flanker Jordan Evans which was finished by winger Spencer Thomas.

On Saturday ​(​Oct 7​)​, New Dock Stars are at home again as they welcome Burry Port in the second round of the WRU Bowl.

Llandeilo are also in action in the Bowl as they travel to Penybanc.

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Llanelli rugby club scores donation

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A THRIVING Llanelli rugby club is celebrating after receiving a cash boost from a leading house builder.

New Dock Stars RFC has been handed a £750 donation from Persimmon Homes West Wales to help pay for coaching.

The club has been running for around eight years and provides rugby for children aged between six and 14.

The donation comes as part of Persimmon’s Healthy Communities scheme.

Jon Harries, of the club, said: “We’re thrilled to receive this generous donation. We play matches on a Sunday around Carmarthenshire and Swansea and we train on Wednesday evenings on our field.

“During the winter months we try to secure indoor training at the barn at Parc y Scarlets to ensure the children can continue to receive high quality coaching during the wet and cold months.

“This experience does cost a considerable amount, so donations like this are vital.”

Every month sports clubs and individuals in each of Persimmon’s 30 operating areas receive donations of £750 – a total of £22,500.

In January 30 finalists from each region will be selected and a public vote will follow, with prizes of £200,000, £50,000 and £5,000 up for grabs.

The Healthy Communities scheme runs alongside Persimmon’s Community Champions initiative for non-sports clubs, which sees more than £700,000 dished out to good causes each year.

Sharon Robinson, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We are extremely proud of our charity schemes, Healthy Communities and Community Champions. It’s terrific to be able to support sports clubs and charities across West Wales with tens of thousands of pounds every year.

“New Dock Stars RFC is a great club which provides excellent coaching and facilities for kids in the area. We hope that this money will help them continue over the winter.”

Persimmon Homes is currently very active in and around Llanelli with its Cwrt Y Bedw, development in Pontarddulais and Llys Meredith in Gorseinon. Prices start at £109,995 for a two-bedroom property, perfect for first time buyers.

To find out more or to enter the competition, visit www.persimmonhomes.com/charity.

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Sport

Reds maintain winning start

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Goal: The Reds celebrate yet again

Llanelli Town • 3
Ton Pentre • 0

FIVE games, five wins – Llanelli Town are proving to be the pacesetters so far in Welsh League Division 1, although their latest success at the expense of their Rhondda Valley opponents was not as clear-cut as the result suggests.

Ton are known as the Rhondda Bulldogs, and to their credit they displayed the tenacious tendencies attributed to the breed, causing their opponents plenty of problems, particularly in the first half, before the Reds gradually took control and finally ran out winners thanks to a Jordan Davies brace and a third from Liam Samuel.

Missing some key players, including the unavailable Lee Trundle, the hosts were certainly lacking the intensity displayed in their last outing at Penybont where they were in the ascendancy throughout and dominated proceedings.

They started off well, with James Loveridge putting in a strong run down the right before delivering a ball beyond goalkeeper Ryan Griffiths into the goalmouth, but Jordan Follows, at full stretch, agonisingly failed to make contact for a certain opener.

Another Loveridge assist this time found the head of Chris Jones, but again the finish drifted just wide.

After these early opportunities, chances at either end were at a premium, although a well struck effort by Follows who beat two defenders to set himself up, was fumbled low down by Griffiths, and the ball rebounded off the inside of the post and on to the line before being grabbed by the relieved keeper.

When the visitors countered, a shot from distance by Leon Jacka stung the hands of Scott Coughlin in the Reds` goal who managed to keep it out.

Overall, the half was an untidy affair with neither side able to exert the upper hand, and it was no surprise when the interval arrived with the game scoreless.

Whatever was said in the home dressing room during the break seemed to have the desired effect when the contest resumed, as the Reds were far more positive and looking the more likely to break the deadlock.

Follows failed to get any power into his strike on target and Griffiths saved easily, and when he set up Jones, his finish fizzed across the goalmouth and just wide of the far post.

Ton responded through Sam Small whose shot on the turn sailed narrowly over the top, and he went even closer when Jacka crossed to the far post, his goal bound header being brilliantly turned over by Coughlin.

The game was still evenly poised, and it seemed as if the side to score first would probably go on to win, and to the relief of the Reds, two goals in as many minutes swung the result in their favour.

The first arrived on 65 minutes following a well-worked move involving Loveridge and Follows which culminated in a backheel to set up Davies who beat Griffiths with firm shot into the bottom corner.

Two minutes later, the lead was doubled with Follows again involved, this time finding Davies in space in the box who again finished clinically past the keeper and give the Reds some breathing space.

Davies then turned provider, setting up Jones for a shot which again whistled fractionally wide.

Follows was replaced by Liam Samuel, who within ten minutes of his arrival notched up the third goal after Griffiths could only deflect an effort by Jones into his path, and he made no mistake by smashing it home in the 83rd minute.

At the close, another three points and a clean sheet for the Reds in front of a decent 401 attendance, but they were made to work hard for the win against opponents who belied their lowly league position.

The Reds travel west on Saturday (Sept 23) when they meet Haverfordwest County, kick off 2.30pm.

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