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Reds earn win in John’s first game in charge

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IF the first game under the new management of Lee John and Dylan Blain is an indication of how Llanelli Town mean to progress, the future looks bright, as they were almost unrecognisable to the side that had performed so abysmally a fortnight previously against the same opponents.

John and Blain were in charge of the visitors on that occasion at Glanhafod Park, but their influence even at this early stage is obvious, with the home side once more demonstrating a fast-flowing style and passing game which has been sadly lacking for most of the season, and hopefully this trend will continue.

The only worry is the small squad of players available for selection, with two more, captain Kyle Copp and Zac Brown, leaving recently, while injuries are also a concern with the latest casualty being Robert Thomas who will probably miss the rest of the season.

Doubtless, there will be efforts made to strengthen the squad during the January transfer window, but until then reserve and academy players will have to be utilised to swell the numbers.

The hosts were on the front foot from the outset, with the midfield particularly prominent, producing opportunities for the front runners, with a Callum Saunders delivery into the box being pushed clear by Scott Coughlan in the Goytre goal just before Callum Bateman was about to make a headed contact.

Thomas then went down injured, and after efforts to play on had to admit defeat, being replaced by Morgan Weaver after 18 minutes.

Bateman fired over after being played in by Chris Thomas when he broke from the back, but ironically, despite their dominance the Reds went close to conceding when the visitors, with almost their first real threat, forced Exauce Dimonekene into a great save to deny Jay Thomas, and then make an even better stop to keep out the rebound from James Parry.

These near-misses spurred on Goytre, and a corner to the near post by Bradley Flay was headed against the upright by Tim Parker.

Having survived these near-efforts, the hosts retaliated when a short corner by James Loveridge set up Sam Parsons whose well struck finish into the goalmouth was just about kept out Coughlan before the loose ball was hacked clear.

Loveridge himself then had a chance of opening the scoring, but blazed over from a decent position, and the interval arrived with neither side being able to break the deadlock.

The dominant force in the first half, the Reds continued where they had left off by taking the contest to their opponents, and Miles John was unlucky when his near post attempt on target deflected off Daniel Birch for a corner.

From this, Nathan Logan directed a header across the area to Bateman, but again Coughlan did just enough to prevent an opening score.

Louis Gerrard fired narrowly wide of the Goytre goal from distance, but the final ball was somehow lacking, and the nearest they came was from a Saunders free kick which went inches over the bar. 

For all their dominance, they also had to be vigilant at the other end as their opponents gradually came more into the game, and John brought off a saving tackle on Parker to prevent him pulling the trigger inside the box, while Goytre really should have taken the lead when an unmarked Flay headed wide from a few yards out following a great cross by Joseph Pelosi.

The Reds capitalised on this let-off by going ahead on 76 minutes through Logan who was found some 25 yards out from goal, and he curled a delightful finish past Coughlan just inside the post.

This proved to be his last action as he was replaced by Dylan Williams on 80 minutes, but within three minutes the lead was extended with something of a freak goal when Saunders unleashed a speculative shot on target which Coughlan made a complete hash of, allowing it to bounce off his legs and into the net.

Despite this setback, the visitors hauled themselves back into contention in the 86th minute after some initial attempts on the home goal had been partially cleared, with the ball eventually running loose and being met by Kyran Steadman who fired a well- aimed strike into the bottom corner to set up a grandstand finish.

With the clock running down but with a potential substantial amount of stoppage time to be added, the hosts were anxious to ensure they were not about to concede their advantage, and both Williams and Gavin Jones went close, before matters were finally wrapped up by Saunders in the 5th minute of added time when he despatched a well-taken set piece past Coughlan to seal the points, and more importantly a winning start for the new hierarchy.    

Another tough assignment awaits them on Saturday (Dec 11) when they travel to the Rhondda for their fixture against Cambrian & Clydach, kick off 2.30pm.

PHOTO by Darren Harries

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Sport

Saunders stars as Llangennech beat Gowerton

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LLANGENNECH remain unbeaten in League 1 West after they won 33-16 away at Gowerton on Saturday (Jan 15).

Liam Hutchings put the visitors ahead with the first try of the game and Tom Neale added the extras.

Gowerton then got themselves on the scoreboard with a penalty but Llangennech were soon back on the attack.

Jordan Saunders was next to go over and Neale again added the extras.

Gowerton reduced the arrears once more with another penalty and the visitors held a 14-6 lead when the half time whistle went.

Gowerton scored another penalty early in the second half to keep themselves in the game.

However, Llangennech kept applying the pressure and they soon had their third try with Saunders going over for his second and Neale adding his third conversion to make it 21-9.

Saunders then completed his hat trick to also earn his side a bonus point.

Gowerton responded with a converted try to bring the score back to 16-26 but it was the visitors who had the last word.

Greg George scored their fifth try of the game and Neale converted to complete the scoring.

Saunders was named man of the match for his try hat trick and the win sees them move on to 25 points, six points above second placed Newcastle Emlyn.

The sides are next in action on Saturday, January 29, when Llangennech host third placed Felinfoel while Gowerton travel to Aberystwyth.

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Llanelli Town announce triple signing

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LLANELLI TOWN has announced the signings of three new players as they continue to make preparations for the return of football in February.

Football across Wales has been suspended as a result of Welsh Government restrictions but new Reds manager Lee John has wasted little time in making additions to his squad.

Their first sining announced on Wednesday, January 12, was that of former Swansea City U23s defender Jake Thomas who joins from Cambrian & Clydach.

Manager Lee John said: “A 6’2 Centre Back that is very comfortable in possession and a strong defender. Jake picked up a wealth of experience playing for Swansea City FC and played very well against us a few weeks ago for Cambrian.

“Jake has a big future ahead of him and I’m delighted he’s chosen to sign for us.”

Another ex-Swansea player who has put pen to paper on a deal at Stebonheath Park is James Murphy.

Lee said: “James is a very talented forward with bags of potential, he’s also a local product from Llanelli who was very eager to sign and commit to his home town club.

“We want players who want to wear the shirt with pride, James was clear in his determination to commit to the club and help us achieve our future ambitions.”

Llanelli’s final signing of the day is central midfielder Ryan Bevan who joins from Trefelin.

“Ryan is also a former Swansea City product, a busy midfielder who can make a team tick, he possesses a range of passing qualities and is very comfortable in possession. Another ambitious player who wants to play at the highest level possible.

“Three excellent signings to strengthen the squad for the final 12 games of the season”, concluded John.

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Scarlets v Dragons postponed

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THE United Rugby Championship (URC) game between Scarlets and Dragons has been postponed.

It had been due to take place at Parc Y Scarlets on Saturday, January 8, but a number of covid-19 cases have been reported in the Dragons’ squad.

The URC Medical Advisory Group has liaised with the region and having considered all the facts have deemed that the fixture cannot go ahead as scheduled.

The United Rugby Championship will now consider available dates to reschedule the game.

Scarlets’ next game is scheduled for Sunday, January 16, when they travel to France Union Bourdeaux-Begles in the Heinken Champions Cup.

The Dragons’ next game is set to take place on Saturday, January 15, when they take on Bennetton in the European Champions Cup.

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