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Draw sets up tense finish

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Bangor City 2

Carmarthen Town 2

Equalising penalty: Liam Thomas powers the ball home (Pic. Dan Nieroda)

(Pic. Dan Nieroda)

CARMARTHEN went into this game level on points with Bangor at the top of the Welsh Premier League Conference section knowing that, with only two further matches to play, defeat here would almost certainly end their hopes of securing the coveted UEFA play-off qualifying place.

But the game started badly for the Old Gold as the home side took the lead within the opening couple of minutes.

Possession was given up in midfield and a swift break down the left-hand side saw Michael Elstone cut into the penalty area and drift past Craig Hanford before sliding the ball beyond the reach of stranded keeper Lee Idzi and into the far corner of the net.

For a spell the visitors were under continuous pressure but fortunately the home side failed to benefit from their large percentage of possession. Gradually Town’s midfield gained some kind of parity and after 20 minutes created their first shot on goal by Luke Cummings after a neat passing movement down the righthand side. But with Ashley Young dominating the midfield area it was City that finished the first-half strongly.

Once again the Old Gold defence failed to clear a free-kick and with the ball being returned to the edge of the penalty area Anthony Miley was able to turn inside Jordan Knott, captain for the day, and rifle a superb shot past Idzi.

Carmarthen’s situation was exacerbated during this move as central defender, Dave Vincent, went down after a challenge in midfield. He was stretchered from the pitch and taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd. Fortunately it transpired that his leg was very badly bruised rather than fractured.

Town manager Mark Aizlewood certainly worked his magic during the half-time period – not only did he revamp his defence with the introduction of Luke Prosser but also ensured a superb performance in the second-half.

Carmarthen immediately went on the attack and several dangerous balls flew across the Bangor box only to just evade the visitors’ strike-force.

Yet eventually in the 63rd minute they succeeded in reducing the deficit. Knott burst forward into the penalty area and from the byline fired a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where the ball rebounded off a defender straight to Mark Jones – Town’s top scorer, a constant threat to the home defence all afternoon, unleashed a powerful angled drive that strike partner Liam Thomas directed past keeper Connor Roberts with a cleverly executed side-foot from close range.

This emphasised how dominant the Old Gold were by now. Kyle Bassett was introduced in the 70th minute and was to have a major influence for the rest of the game. A corner by Bassett was glanced just wide by Thomas, while another one was nodded home by Prosser only to be disallowed for a foul by another player.

During this period Bangor were reduced to ten men when midfielder Damian Allen was sent from the pitch after receiving his second yellow card for a fierce challenge on Kieran Lewis. Yet they nearly restored their twogoal advantage when Elstone made a strong run from his own half only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle by Dwaine Bailey who had been a solid performer for Town throughout the afternoon.

By now the midfield trio of Lewis Harling, Ceri Morgan and Lewis were dominating the game and producing several telling balls, which unfortunately managed to evade the strike force of Thomas and Jones.

As the game entered its dying moments Bailey’s superb header sent the ball over the Bangor defence to set Bassett surging forward from the centre-circle and deep into the home penalty area where he was clipped from behind by a despairing, covering defender. Thomas was entrusted with the ensuing penalty kick that was made even more difficult by the softness of the pitch.

Thomas strode forward and struck the ball confidently to Roberts’ right-hand side and although he managed to get his hand to the ball the pace of the shot ensured that the penalty was converted.

The game ended with the home side trying to put Town defence under pressure but with Idzi dealing competently with crosses into the box there were no further scares for the visitors.

However, unfortunately, they too finished the game with ten men as during the final two minutes Knott also picked up his second yellow card of the game for obstruction. He will now miss the crunch match against Aberystwyth at Richmond Park next Saturday. With the injury to Vincent as well, Town will have to start the game with a rebuilt defence.

After the match manager Aizlewood praised his squad for their reaction to his half-time criticism:

“Some teams would just have capitulated after such a poor performance during the first fortyfive minutes. These boys showed their character by taking on board what was said at the interval and produced a superb second forty-five minutes.”

This result means that Town and Bangor remain level on points in seventh and eighth positions in the WPL, just one point ahead of Aberystwyth – a place in the play-offs is still up for grabs.

Team: Lee Idzi; Jordan Knott; Dwaine Bailey; Dave Vincent (sub Luke Prosser 44); Craig Hanford (sub Kyle Bassett 70); Ceri Morgan; Lewis Harling (sub Glen Fearn 83); Kieran Lewis; Luke Cummings; Liam Thomas; Mark Jones.

Unused Subs: Dan Sheehan; Danny Thomas.

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Raiders seal first ever win

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West Wales Raiders 44

Coventry Bears 16

Lucas Marshall, Stebonheath Park,

A LATE rally by Coventry Bears was not enough to deny a jubilant West Wales Raiders their first-ever win at the 45th time of asking.

The old South Wales Ironmen tasted victory against Gloucestershire All Golds in the first match played at Stebonheath Park back in July 2017, but never before have the side won under the Raiders banner. And it was certainly worth the wait as the Raiders dominated much of the game against a Bears side that doesn’t have the best record when travelling to South Wales. The other game the Ironmen won in 2017 was against Coventry, whilst the Bears only won by 10 points at Llanelli last season.

Dewi Billingham made his Coventry debut while trialist Zak Williams made his first appearance since returning to the Bears. But both former Raiders stars were unable to come back to haunt their former employers.

Try time: Raiders celebrate another try. Photo by Darren Harries

Much of the damage was done in the first half with the Raiders taking control from the kick-off and eventually going in 20-0 up at the break.

It took only six minutes for Raiders to break the Bears defence when good work down the left put Dalton Desmond-Walker in for the opener. Phil Cowburn added the extras but was off target just moments later after Ash Bateman was on the end of some quick passing to go in on the right.

When Morgan Evans went in for the Raiders third, again converted by Cowburn, their loyal band of supporters started to believe they were on course for victory.

It could have been even worse for the Bears, but strong defence saw them hold the visitors up over the line on three occasions mid-way through the half. Although there was no denying Archie Snook with one of the final plays of the half after Welsh International Steve Parry had split the Bears defence to put the centre through. Cowburn once again failed with the conversion but the Raiders still celebrated their most positive 40 minutes in almost two years.

After the break, it was the Bears who struck first through Reece Rance, but any hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished by three quick-fire tries.

First, former Bears player Mitch Shaw scooted over, before Bateman and Snook both got their second try of the afternoon to all but secure the victory for the Llanelli-based outfit.

Parry then went in for the Raiders’ eighth try of the day to put the icing on a long-awaited cake.

But the Bears were by no means done and added two further tries of their own to make the scoreline look a little less dominate than the game suggested.

Tries from Errol Carter and South Wales youth system graduate Cobi Green, along with two Joe Sanderson conversions rounded off the scoring for the visitors.

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Dafen see off Porthcawl

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DAFEN Seconds earned their sixth win of the season on Saturday (Jul 6) as they beat Porthcawl by 75 runs.

Porthcawl won the toss and elected to field and they were able to bowl Dafen out for 182.

Opener Oliver Evans made a score of 19 and Chris Randell scored 25 as a number of Dafen batsmen made good starts.

Jonathan Griffiths scored 22 and there were also scores of 15 from Tom Lavender and 16 from Luke Dunning.

Matthew Thomas made a late score of 18 while Andrew Randell top scored with 43 runs.

Nicholas Morgan was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for the loss of 30 runs from his 6.3 overs.

Mark Bevan also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-37.

Photos by Darren Harries

That set Porthcawl 138 to win but they lost a number of batsmen for single figure scores as they struggled to put runs on the board.

Andrew Randell had Nicholas Morgan caught by Jac Morgan and Matthew Thomas had Rhodri Phillips caught by Chris Randell.

Chris Richards made a score of 13 before he was bowled by Rhys Marchant who then also bowled Rob Warren and had David Lewis caught by Chris Randell, both for ducks.

Tim Richards also fell for a duck when he was caught off the bowling of Matthew Thomas.

Mark Lewis had scored 25 but he also fell to the bowling of Marchant.

Steffan Flood also scored 25 before he was bowled by Chris Randell and Joshua Aubrey added 20 late on before he also fell to the bowling of Randell.

That meant that Porthcawl were all out for 107, giving Dafen seconds an excellent win.

On Saturday (Jul 13), Dafen seconds are away to local rivals Llanelli seconds.

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Rees century sees Llanelli to win

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LLANELLI’s Iwan Rees scored a century on Saturday (Jul 6) to help his side to victory over Briton Ferry Steel.

Briton Ferry won the toss and elected to bat but they were restricted to 186-8 in their innings.

Steven Devonald struck early on to remove Evan Hynes but Lloyd Clement and Jamie Griffiths shared 44 runs for the second wicket.

Jac Rees had Griffiths caught by Craig Howells on a score of 24 and soon after Craig Evans was bowled by Aled Gilley for a duck.

Clement had made a score of 41 but when he was bowled by Rees, the Steel found themselves on 81-4.

That soon became 88-5 as Steve Maddock was caught by Marcus Leaf off the bowling of Gilley.

Photo by Darren Harries

Iwan Rees then had Steffan Evans caught by Howells and Rhys Norgrove fell in similar fashion.

Jason Hughes and Thomas Williams shared 56 runs for the eighth wicket as they looked to give their side a total to defend.

On the last ball Williams was caught by Rees off the bowling of Gilley on a score of 24 which left Hughes not out on 67.

Llanelli openers Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips shared 42 runs for the first wicket before Phillips was caught by Rhys Norgrove off the bowling of Jay Webb.

That was as good as it got for the Steel though as they were unable to claim any further wickets.

Craig Howells hit seven fours as he finished unbeaten on 53 while Rees starred with 14 fours to finish unbeaten on 104.

The win gives Llanelli 19 points and keeps them third in the table. On Saturday (Jul 13), they travel to local rivals Dafen.

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