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Reds open with a point

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LLANELLI Town manager Andy Hill will probably be relatively pleased with the point earned in their opening home league game in the JD Cymru League Championship South, as they were trailing as early as the 12th minute before levelling matters five minutes prior to the break.

With the Reds having brought in eleven new signings during the close season, five of them were included in Friday’s (Aug 16) opener, with Zac Brown, Jake Parry and Tim Parker starting, with Scott Smith and Nathan Logan named on the bench.

It will take a little while for the new recruits to adapt, but the early signs are promising, and hopefully augur well for a successful season.

The hosts enjoyed most of the early possession, and when a Liam Samuel cross was helped on by Jordan Davies to Parker, his effort deflected off a visitors` defender for a corner.

This set the pattern for the opening stages, with the home side forcing a number of flag kicks, but completely against the run of play it was the visitors who struck first when a clearance upfield by keeper Morgan Davies did not seem to pose any real threat, but was pursued by striker Luke Gullick who then caught Reds` right back Luke Morgan in possession, and he came away with the ball before making inroads into the box and rifling his finish low into the bottom corner on 12 minutes.

At the other end, a Parker delivery across the face of goal failed to pick out anyone, while a Davies shot lacked any power when presented with a chance, and the keeper made an easy save.

A James Loveridge free kick for the Reds from distance was arrowed towards the top corner before being diverted over the bar by Davies, and the same player had a couple of efforts sail well off target when he gained possession.

With the interval approaching it seemed as if the home side would go in at half time trailing by the solitary goal, but on 40 minutes they levelled matters when Parker notched up his first goal for the club, glancing home a header just inside the near post following good build-up play involving both Loveridge and Davies to set up the chance.

Photo by Darren Harries

After the restart, the Reds again seized the initiative, with Samuel meeting a Brown free kick on the edge of the box to volley narrowly over the goal.

A Loveridge foray down the left culminated in Parker meeting his driven ball into the middle, but a potential success was blocked by a defender at the expense of a corner.

The first substitution of the contest saw Logan replacing Morgan after 59 minutes, before it took a saving tackle by Reds` captain Lee Bevan on Gullick on the edge of the area to prevent the striker a route on goal.

Gullick was involved again shortly after, when he was put clear on a run into home territory, but he failed to make the most of a promising situation and the ball finally ran harmlessly out of play.

The home side were then dealt a devastating blow with the dismissal of Loveridge in the 71st minute by referee Alex McInch for a two-footed lunge on Louis Gerrard, and he will now face an automatic three match ban.

Despite the numerical disadvantage up to the close, the Reds were not unduly troubled by their opponents, and both sides rung the changes prior to the final whistle, with Parker being replaced by Smith, while the visitors brought on Joshua Maksemovic and Kareen Leigh for Aiden Lewis and Vaughan Fowler respectively.

In stoppage time, the home goal did survive a narrow escape when a header by Gerrard from a free kick into the box drifted just wide, but overall a point apiece was probably a fair reflection of the overall performance by both sides.

The Reds` next fixture sees them travel to Glenhafod Park on Saturday to take on Goytre United, kick off 2.30pm, while on Tuesday, August 27, they welcome Briton Ferry Llansawel to Stebonheath, with a 7.30pm start.

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The Six Nations: Come on Wales!

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WITH new coaches in charge of Wales, Ireland, France, and Italy, there’s an air of change about this year’s Six Nations competition.

Only Eddie Jones and – for now – Gregor Townsend remain at the helm of their countries’ sides from last year.
Wayne Pivac, the former Scarlets coach, takes charge of Wales following Warren Gatland’s retirement. He has very big shoes to fill and his task is not made any easier by the failure of the WRU to retain the services of key backroom staff member Shaun Edwards.

There are five uncapped players in Wales’ 34-member squad for the tournament: Louis Rees-Zammit, Johnny McNicholl, Nick Tompkins, WillGriff John and Will Rowlands.

Rhys Webb also gained a recall having signed a contract with Ospreys following two years with Toulon which ruled him out of the Test arena.

It’s also a welcome return for prop Rob Evans, from Spittal, who was left out of Wales World Cup squad to widespread astonishment. Evans is a strong scrummager and powerful in the loose. He has been in destructive form on the loose-head side for Scarlets this season alongside his Welsh teammate Ken Owens.

Absent are the long-term injured Gareth Anscombe, Jonathan Davies, and Tomos Francis.

The absence of Jonathan Davies is likely to be keenly felt in midfield. While Owen Watkins is making a faster than expected recovery from his injury, Wales will need to reshuffle their settled three-quarter line which shone in the Rugby World Cup.

Among the options Wales are considering to replace their midfield general is moving George North inside from the wing to provide a physical presence and a different threat than the injured Lions centre.

Louis Rees-Zammit, the Gloucester winger, is one to watch out for; if he gets on the pitch, he’ll be the large red blur charging at the Italian defence. The eighteen-year-old flyer has been compared to George North in terms of size, speed, and predatory scoring ability. Despite representing Wales at U18 level, the Cardiff-born winger attended Gloucester’s rugby academy to fit in with his education at Hartpury College. Rumours that Eddie Jones tried to tempt him over to the dark side were quickly squashed when Rees-Zammitt was selected in the Wales senior squad.

At full-back, with Liam Williams ruled out of this weekend’s Italy game, Leigh Halfpenny is almost nailed on to start. The Scarlets number 15 has been in stellar form this season, offering threat in attack, solidity in defence, and reliability with his metronomic boot. His recovery from a serious concussion injury, which left him out of the game for a long period and ruled him out of last year’s Six Nations, has resulted in renewed determination from the Scarlets man.
“It only feels like yesterday I was one of the younger boys,” Halfpenny says.

“I’m one of the older ones now and it’s great for us as a squad to have fantastically talented youngsters coming through. It’s strengthening us as a team and there is a lot of competition.

“It does make me realise I’m probably in the latter stages of my career. When I look back on it, it has all gone so quick. It’s gone in the blink of an eye. It’s incredible. It’s always a privilege to hear your name read out for the Welsh squad and even though I am in the latter stages of my career, I’m still ambitious. I’m still hungry to achieve things, but I also want to enjoy every moment I have as much as possible at the moment.”

Leigh Halfpenny continued: “Last season the boys were absolutely outstanding. To achieve a Grand Slam was incredible and it’s now hugely exciting looking ahead to this Six Nations,” Halfpenny said.

“Our goal is to go and win the title again. That’s the challenge for us as a squad. We’ve got new coaches and management and that’s really exciting as well.

“It is a new era for the squad. What was achieved with the previous management was just incredible and the feeling in the group has been brilliant these last two weeks. The boys have come in full of energy and we can’t wait to get started with this Six Nations. Italy will be an extremely tough challenge. Both teams will want to get off to a positive start to the campaign. Having played Italy you know they do pose threats and they’re a tough team to crack. We’re going to have to be at our best to do that both in attack and defence. We want to get our Six Nations campaign off to the start we want which is with a win.”

Former Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac is the man tasked with filling the boots of fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland, who steered Wales to three grand slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances during his 12-year reign.

“The guys have been made aware of the style of game we want and the positional and role specifics they will have to play,” says Pivac.

“The expectation is we are going to move a bit more ball and what I’m seeing at the moment is a great reaction. We’ve got a good vibe in the group and if the training sessions are anything to go by, we’ve got guys putting their hands up to take to the field.”

Pivac continued: “The boys had a fantastic competition to win the Grand Slam last year. History says this year is going to be tough with England and Ireland away, but that’s the challenge.

“That’s what motivates the best players and coaches. We think we have a draw that lends itself to us building into the competition. With no disrespect to any opponent, I think it’s nice we’ve got a home game to kick it off and you can certainly sense there is a bit of excitement.

“We are going to evolve our attack and that will take a bit of time. It took a bit of time with the Scarlets and I’m sure it will be no different at an international level, except we have got a higher calibre of player to work with across the board.”

Wales haven’t lost to Italy since 2007 and the Azzurri have never won in Cardiff since joining the Six Nations. The 2020 tournament will be their 21st season in the Championship.

Italy are now coached by Franco Smith and captained by hooker Luca Bigi with Sergio Parisse – who has skippered the team for so long – absent for the Cardiff clash.

“I think there will be a lot of continuity. I think Wayne is very smart in the way he goes about things,” said Smith.
“He spent five years in Wales – there’s a reason why they’ve appointed him after Warren. It’s going to be again a big physical challenge, but I do think they will bring a bit of an attacking edge. The style Wayne played at the Scarlets will be noticeable in the new approach.

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‘Seaside Kicks’ off to great start in Glanymor Ward!‬

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A new project has been launched which is completely free for young people from across the Llanelli area.‬


‭‘Premier League Kicks’ run by Swansea City Community Trust started last Tuesday (14th January) and is already proving to be a success with both children and their parents. ‬


‭Boys and Girls of all abilities are welcome to take part with sessions taking place on the brand new 3G pitch at Ysgol PenRhos. ‬


‭Ages 8-12 take place on every Tuesday evening between 5.00pm and 6.00pm with ages 13-16 on every Wednesday between 8.00 and 9.00pm. ‬
‭As well as the football sessions, activities will also include informative, educational workshops covering a wide range of issues including knife crime, county lines and online safety. ‬


Craig Richards from the Swans Community Trust said:‬
‭“Nationally, ‘Premier League Kicks’ is one of the Premier League’s flagship community programmes. It has a long history of using the power of football and the value of sports participation to help youngsters in some of the most-high need areas. ‬


‭“By engaging young people in constructive activities including football, coaching, educational and personal development sessions, communities up and down the country have been transformed with impressive football and sports participation rates, and authorities reporting significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in the areas in which it is delivered.”‬


Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward added:‬
‭“It is a pleasure to link up with the Swans Community Trust, Police and Crime Commissioner, our PCSO’s, Llanelli Town Council and the Community Safety Partnership in bringing forward such an exciting project. ‬


‭“Engagement has taken place with both local schools at Ysgol PenRhos and Ysgol Maes Y Morfa as well as strong partnership work with our existing sports clubs in the area at Seaside AFC and Bwlch Rangers too all of whom have been very supportive.‬


‭“It is fantastic to see so many youngsters turning out in great numbers with more expected next week. It gives them somewhere to go in the area and have fun with others within a safe environment.‬


‭“I now look forward to seeing this project go from strength to strength.”‬

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Old Gold snatch vital draw

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JD Cymru Premier League
Penybont 1 – Carmarthen Town 1

AFTER an impressive performance to defeat Penybont at Richmond Park on Boxing Day, expectations among the Town supporters who travelled along the M4 for this Cymru Premier League return fixture. Glad tidings of great joy were, however, in short supply this time around.


An uneventful opening period saw play confined to the pitch’s middle third, neither side threatening much in the way of attacking threat.
In the 11th minute, Penybont carved open the Old Gold defence in clinical fashion.


Nathan Wood fired a dangerous cross towards the far post where Daniel Griffiths rose high above Alaric Jones to head the ball back into the goalmouth. Kostya Georgievsky reacted quicker than any defender and planted his close-range header past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.
As Town appeared laboured and uncertain, on 31 minutes Penybont went close to stretching their lead when Wood released a fierce long-range drive that Idzi, with a flying full-length dive, turned narrowly wide of the post.
Carmarthen’s only significant goal threat during the entire first-half came in the 36th minute when a rasping effort from Luke Bowen was well-parried by home keeper Rhys Wilson.


The second half’s opening was no better than the quality of play in much of the first period. Both sides gave the ball away too easily, with careless misplaced passes a constant feature of their exchanges.


Midway through the second-half, Town gradually began to exert notable pressure on the Penybont defence.


On 77 minutes Declan Carroll fired a free-kick into the crowded penalty area where Jay Woodford, from 15 yards, curled a delightful shot over several defenders but saw Wilson produce a smart save to claim the ball.
Penybont defended deep in their own half while the Old Gold turned on the afterburners in search of an equaliser. Several powerful attempts on the Penybont goal were saved by the impressive Wilson. Against the run of play, Penybont squandered a late opportunity to make the game safe.


Having survived that scare, the Old Gold resumed their sustained assault on the Penybont goal – and they were duly rewarded.


Three minutes into added time Carroll sent a searching corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where Bowen saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line by Wilson – but the experienced striker reacted immediately and positively by driving the loose ball past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.


Once the Carmarthen players’ delirious celebrations had subsided the game restarted and then very soon afterwards the referee blew the final whistle, probably much to the relief of Town’s supporters!


Town’s next fixture, against Airbus UK at Richmond Park on Saturday, January 11 (k/o 2.30 pm) will be an important fixture if the Old Gold are to retain their Premier League status

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