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.
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.
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.
‘Seaside Kicks’ off to great start in Glanymor Ward!
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.”
Old Gold snatch vital draw
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
County cling to win
JD Cymru League Division One (South)
Friday, January 3
Llanelli Town 0 – Haverfordwest County 1
A 5th-minute goal by the visitors` Nicky Palmer ultimately proved to be the difference between the sides at the close, a result which extended the home side`s winless streak to seven league matches. During this dismal run, they have picked up only two points, while their goal tally is equally depressing, scoring just 10 and conceding 21.
The strain showed in the reverse fixture, when despite a spirited performance, Llanelli were well-beaten in the end.
Again, Llanelli fielded a depleted side and included no fewer than five Academy members, with William Wang and Liam Thomas making their debuts, along with Liam Griffiths and Morgan and Jack Cutler.
With the Bluebirds heading the league table, the home team approached the game with hope but little expectation. However, the makeshift hosts pit up a decent showing and were not unduly overawed or outplayed.
The early opener by Palmer resulted from some slack defending when he met a cross from Marcus Griffiths to drive it past Scott Coughlan in the Reds’ goal.
The home keeper then did well to parry to safety a dangerous ball across the face of goal by Jack Wilson, before the home side came close to an equaliser following a James Loveridge delivery to the far post which was met by a header from Nathan Logan which came back off the upright.
The visitors were winning the majority of the second ball, and when a long throw into the goalmouth by Wilson caused problems for Coughlan and his defenders, Griffiths reacted first but was denied from close range by a block which resulted in a corner.
Despite determined defence, Llanelli struggled to establish a foothold in proceedings, and when a corner was partially cleared only as far as Ben Fawcett, he might have done better when he drove his finish wide from a promising position.
The home team were certainly more pro-active from the restart. The Bluebirds’ goal came under threat on several occasions, with a Loveridge back-heel setting up Logan for a strike which was diverted for a corner.
Logan then turned provider when he played a pass into Tim Parker in the area, but his effort on the turn lacked power and gave County goalie Kyle Stuart few problems.
The home team came agonisingly close again to an equaliser when Logan met a Liam Samuel ball but again could only find the upright, and when the ball ran loose, it was scrambled clear off the line.
The Bluebirds retaliated through Fawcett who drilled a free-kick inches off target, and then just failed to connect with a ball driven across the face of goal when the Reds made a complete hash of a short goal kick and conceded possession.
A minute from time, the problems for the hosts became even more acute when Loveridge and Kurtis Rees were involved in a flare-up, leading to the dismissal of both players by referee Daniel Richardson.
While the Bluebirds ran out deserved winners, there will be tougher games ahead and they will want to improve significantly on this showing to cement their place at the summit.
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