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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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Llanelli AC round off season

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LLANELLI Athletics Club junior members from under 11’s upwards rounded off their track and field season with the annual end-of-season Inter Club Competition at the Pemberton Athletics Track on the final Tuesday of August.

Events held were 75m, 100m, 800m, High Jump, Long Jump, Javelin and Shot.

48 hours later, it was the turn of the under 17, under 20 and senior athletes to participate in the track championships situated next to Parc Y Scarlets.

They were great evenings of friendly competition in front of family, friends and coaches as members now look forward to the cross country, road and indoor season in Wales and further afield in England.

Thirty-five under 11, under 13 and under 15 athletes took part on the first evening whilst more than a dozen of the club’s under 17, under 20 and senior were in action at the second event.

Age Group winners will be announced at the club’s annual presentation evening later this year.

Elsewhere, there was a good representation of senior and master athletes at the recent Cardiff Metropolitan University 10K in the Welsh Capital.

Out of the twenty-six running from the club, twelve recorded new personal bests over this distance in an event which saw more than 6,000 runners finish as it continues to grow year on year.

Finishing times: Dai Keenan (34:02), Nick Sheehan (34:04), Dean Summers (34:22), Jimmy Watkins (34:37), Jamie Stedman (36:29), Alan Davies (36:57), Simon Rees (38:36), Rob Davies (42:55), Mike Halsall (44:16), Jordan Chappell (45:27), Tahir Altimimi (45:47), Craig Hopkins (46:10), Roxanne Turner (47:36), Luigi Bonifacio (52:56), Vanessa Buckler (53:35), Andrew Stephens (55:02), Andrew Bowen (55:27), Emily Denmark (56:11), Heledd Jones (59:48), Hannah Gale (59:49), Rachel Evans (60:29), Zoe Jermin-Jones (63:14), Lisa Campion (67:40), Rob Campion (67:42), Vicki Turner (71:22) and Amanda de la Hey (74:29).

Carmarthen’s David Jones crossed the line as the 63rd male home, in a time of 34 minutes 45 seconds.

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Stars batter Bynea

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New Dock Stars 91-0 Bynea

NEW DOCK STARS earned their first win of the season on Saturday as they thrashed Bynea 91-0.

The home side ran in thirteen tries in an impressive display which saw Jason Baxter convert ten of those.

Jordan Evans, Josh Harris and Luke Morris all scored twice as did Joe Scott and Stu Taylor.

Luke Edwards, Kieron James and Levi Roots also bagged themselves a try each as they showed no let up against their opponents.

Baxter also added two penalties for an excellent personal haul of 26 points.

The result lifts the Stars up to third in the table while Bynea remain bottom.

On Saturday (Sept 21), Bynea will look to bounce back when they face Laugharne in the first round of the WRU Bowl.

The Stars will be full of confidence after their big win and they face Tumble in the first round of the Bowl.

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Trim too good for Furnace

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Furnace 8-21 Trimsaran

TRIMSARAN travelled the short distance to Furnace on Saturday (Sept 14) for what was an entertaining derbt clash.

This was the first meeting between the two teams for a few years as Furnace were promoted along with Penygroes last season after finishing second in League 3 West Central C last season.

The cherries won their first game last week against Bynea by 55-8 so were on a high coming into the game after also having a successful pre-season which saw them win all 3 of their games.

Trim also made a winning start to the season last week after a narrow victory over Cefneithin by 18-15.

Trimsaran were under no illusions how difficult this game would be and knew they would have to give 110% if they wanted to stop the cherries.

Trim kicked off and after a handling error Furnace had the early initiative with a scrum near halfway.

Trim showed their intention from this scrum driving Furnace back 10-15 meters and getting awarded the early penalty.

This was the start of a period of 20 minutes where Trim were pressuring the Furnace defence and in the home teams territory constantly.

Furnace did show some strong defence and had secured a couple of turnover but it wasn’t long until Trim took a well-deserved lead after second row Emyr Evans crossed the whitewash to open the scoring after some good build up work by Trim.

Furnace ill-discipline allowed Trim to get the territory and within the next 10 minutes Trim had extended their lead to 11-0 after two penalties by fly half Corey Phillips.

Photo by Darren Harries

Furnace came into the game now after a loose return kick from the kick off and had a run of possession and territory, this allowed them to break down the wing and score their first try of the game in the corner against the run of play. The score was now 5-11 to the visitors with 10 minutes of the first half left.

Trim were back pressuring the home team deep in their 22 and set up a driving maul from a lineout but some good defence from Furnace turned the ball over and allowed them to clear their lines.

However, some more ill-discipline for being offside allowed Trim to again get territory and after a few good phases of play from the forwards the ball was passed out to winger Callum McCormack who touched down for his teams second try in the corner.

The difficult conversion was nailed over by Corey Phillips and with only 5 minutes of the first half remaining the score was 5-18.

From the kick off Trim cleared their lines only to be told it was kicked out on the full so Furnace now had an ideal attacking lineout just before half time to hit back. The cherries were awarded a scrum 5 yards out after the ball became unplayable and had one more chance as the ref called last play to get some sort of points.

Furnace tried to power their way through but Trim held them out before they spread the ball wide and were tackled into touch to bring the first half to an end. Trim were happy with the outcome at half time but knew Furnace would come back at them in the second half all guns blazing.

Furnace kicked off the second half and were the team to pressure first. They were awarded a penalty of their own which they kicked at goal to reduce the deficit after 5 minutes of the second half.

Trim pushed for another score to extend their league but a pass was intercepted by the Furnace hooker and he booted the ball back down deep into the Trim 22.

A shove from the Cherries number 9 off the ball resulted in a yellow card for him as the ref had finally had enough of the penalties conceded after numerous warnings. This allowed Trim to clear their lines and retain possession from the lineout.

The game started to turn a bit scrappy now with both teams failing to retain possession for enough phases to trouble the defensive lines. Furnace did have a break down the wing but the green and blacks defence was strong enough to keep them out only for Furnace to be awarded a penalty and a shot at goal which was unsuccessful. 5 minutes later it was Trim who were extending their lead thanks to a drop goal from hooker and captain Ryan Edwards to make the score 8-21 with 20 minutes left.

Trim had a further chance through a penalty to take the game beyond the home team but the shot at goal was just missed. Furnace had more possession and territory in the final 10 minutes of the game but the green and blacks held firm in defence and managed to hold out everything the cherries threw at them. When the ref called last play of the game full back Dan Griffiths booted the ball off the field to secure an impressive win for Trimsaran and to make it two wins out of two.

On Saturday (Sept 21), Trimsaran host Amman United and Furnace travel to Cardigan in the first round of the Specsavers National Bowl.

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