Merthyr Town 4
Carmarthen Town 0
FOLLOWING on from a positive performance against Championship side Cardiff City, Carmarthen continued their pre-season programme with a hugely disappointing display against Merthyr Town. The Glamorgan side, newly promoted to the Southern League Premier Division (the third tier of the English non-league pyramid), dismantled the Town side who were soundly beaten with the final score-line comfortably reflecting the gulf between these sides on the day.
Yet in the opening stages the game was fairly evenly balanced with the play switching quickly from end to end although neither defence looked particularly troubled and there were few scoring opportunities. The only notable chance arose in the 4th minute when Merthyr’s Kayne McLaggon cut in from the left flank and struck a fierce 20 yard effort that keeper James Kirkwood turned around the post with a smart full-length save.
However from midway during this half Merthyr began to take control as they enjoyed by far the greater share of possession, moving the ball around with confidence and precision – as a result the Old Gold attacking threat was easily nullified while their defence came under increasing pressure.
And on 22 minutes the hosts deservedly went ahead when the ball was played across to Ian Traylor on the right wing from where he swiftly cut inside, went cleverly past Jordan Knott and from the corner of the penalty area fired a crisp shot beyond Kirkwood’s reach and into the corner of the net.
Then after 27 minutes the lively Traylor split the visitors’ rather static defence with a fine pass that set Ryan Prosser free inside the penalty area and he coolly drove the ball home giving Kirkwood no chance.
Despite the best efforts of Luke Cummings, Kyle Bassett and, in particular, the industrious Lewis Harling in midfield, Carmarthen remained unable to fashion any serious scoring chances – by contrast, it seemed more than likely that Merthyr would soon stretch their lead still more.
On 40 minutes from Jaye Bowen’s corner-kick Traylor rose highest in the crowded goalmouth only to direct his header narrowly over the bar. Then moments later Traylor was again influential when his deep right-wing cross into the penalty area was met by Prosser, who stabbed the ball into the net from close range. Embarrassingly, the Old Gold had not managed a shot on target during the entire first-half.
After the interval the home side were quickly back in control of the game, demonstrating all too graphically how beneficial it is to keep hold of the ball for as long as possible – a task that was seemingly beyond Carmarthen. And in the 51st minute Traylor received the ball on the edge of the penalty area but his fierce strike was too straight and Kirkwood was well placed to deny him another goal.
However the visitors, to their credit, were still demonstrating considerable spirit and determination, especially in midfield where Harling and Bassett, supported now by substitute Sacha Walters, continued to press forward at every opportunity. And it was Bassett who had the notable (albeit dubious) distinction of producing Town’s first shot on target after 67 minutes when, having received a short pass from Dan Sheehan, he raced towards the penalty area in typical bustling style and held off the challenge of a defender before releasing a powerful 20 yard drive that drew a fine save from keeper Cameron Clarke.
Unfortunately this seemed only to galvanise Merthyr into even greater effort and they extended their already comfortable lead on 74 minutes as Gethin Hill broke into the penalty area and rifled the ball home through a crowd of players with Kirkwood unsighted.
Then in a final flurry of goalmouth activity in the closing stages of the game the Old Gold again threatened when in the 89th minute Rhodri Morgan burst forward to the edge of the penalty area before slipping the ball on to Mark Jones who saw his sharp close range shot resisted by Clark with an impressive reflex save. Moments later Sheehan’s searching cross from the right wing reached Jones rising above his marker at the far post but he sent his header narrowly over the bar.
Yet the last chance, unsurprisingly, was fashioned by Merthyr deep into added time when after a quick exchange of passes Hill received the ball just outside the penalty area but his fierce angled drive flew fractionally too high.
James Kirkwood; Dan Sheehan; Chris Thomas; Sam Handy (sub Luke Prosser 46); Jordan Knott; Kyle Bassett; Lewis Harling; Luke Cummings (sub Rhodri Morgan 51); Chris Hartland (sub Liam Thomas 36, sub Chris Hartland 58); Mark Jones (sub Sacha Walters 46); Jeff White (sub Mark Jones 61);
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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