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Reds win again

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THREE wins and a draw in the opening month of the league season represents a decent start for the Reds, but manager Andy Hill will be acutely aware that they are far from being the finished article and there is ample room for improvement overall.

They have, to some extent, ridden their luck in the games already played, with their opponents failing to make the most of chances created, exemplified by the latest game against the Seasiders who could well have been a couple of goals to the good in the first half, but failed to capitalise, and ultimately paid the penalty.

An eminently forgettable opening 45 minutes saw both sides struggle to put together any telling moves, with possession being conceded far too easily, with the dreaded route-one option being deployed without any significant effect.

The nearest either team came to a breakthrough saw Liam Samuel strike the Lido woodwork from distance following a Nathan Logan short corner, while the visitors went close through Noah Daley who glanced his header just wide from a Jack Hurley free kick.

Photo by Darren Harries

A further Samuel attempt was safely gathered by goalkeeper Steven Cann, before the Seasiders had a great chance of opening their account following an error by Reds central defender Lee Bevan which allowed Kaid Mohamed a free run on goal, but with only Reds` keeper Scott Coughlan to beat, his finish was straight at him and it was diverted clear.

Lucky not to be trailing, Kyle Copp fought back for the hosts by driving his free kick narrowly wide, before at the other end, it took a timely tackle by Ross Jones to halt Alex Gammond in his tracks following a run into the box.

The visitors were still causing problems for the home defenders, and Coughlan did well to block a well struck finish by Daley at his near post, while early in the second half, a glancing header by Liam McCreesh was not far off target following a Harley set-piece.

Having survived these scares, the home side then took the lead on 51 minutes when Samuel made ground down the right before crossing into the middle where Tim Parker just failed to effect a connection, but the ball instead ran through to Logan who sent his strike just inside the near post.

This somewhat unexpected success spurred on the hosts who adopted a far more positive approach, and Cann was forced to divert clear a well struck shot by Parker, while Samuel also saw his attempt deflect off a defender when Parker set up the chance.

The visitors suffered a blow on 67 minutes following a challenge by Ben Symons on Logan which led to a nasty injury necessitating lengthy treatment, and he was eventually stretchered off the field and hospitalised.

Despite this disruption, the Seasiders were still a credible threat, with Coughlan being forced into action to deny them following a move up the left, and when Mohamed made a strong run into the area he played a pass into the path of Daley, who made a complete hash of his attempted finish.

Photo by Darren Harries

Gammond blasted high over the crossbar when he met a punch out of the goalmouth by Coughlan, and Chris Thomas did well to put in a strong near post challenge to avert a potential goal with a couple of Lido attackers hovering.

Just before the close, a run by Samuel took him deep into opposition territory but with Parker in space waiting for a pass, he held on too long and was eventually crowded out.

The hosts held on to clinch the win and a further three points, but yet again rode their luck and will need greater application if they hope to challenge for honours at the end of the season.

On Saturday (Sept 7), they travel to Cardiff to meet Caerau (Ely), with a 12pm kick off.

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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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