A HOME header just after the hour proved to be the difference when Llanelli Town travelled to the heart of the Rhondda for their JD Cymru South league fixture on Saturday (Dec 11).
Conditions were far from ideal with heavy rain and mist swirling around the ground, while the ageing artificial playing surface and cramped surroundings did little to assist the visitors` cause.
To add to their problems, they were down to the bare-bones in relation to players, with Morgan Weaver coming in for the injured Robert Thomas, while academy player, Dylan Williams, made his senior team debut instead of the absent James Loveridge, while the bench also had a youthful look.
The contest was by no means a classic, dictated to a large extent by the conditions and the approach of both sides, with route one seemingly the favoured option.
The hosts bossed the early stages and had the ball in the net through Sam Jones, but an offside flag ruled out the effort.
A Cam Strinati free kick into the Reds` box was met by Ceri Morgan but a last ditch defensive block only conceded a corner.
The visitors were finding it increasingly difficult to mount anything in the way of a concerted attack, typified when Louis Gerrard made ground, but in attempting to play in Callum Bateman over-hit his pass which ran harmlessly though to goalkeeper Cameron Clarke.
Nathan Logan then attempted to set up Bateman, but this time he was crowded out by two defenders, and at this stage in proceedings the Reds had barely made ground into the final third.
On 35 minutes, the hosts were presented with a golden opportunity of opening their account with the award of a penalty after Exauce Dimonekene was judged by referee Jordan Haman to have brought down Liam Reed who had pursued a through ball into the box, and Jones stepped up to take the kick.
Once again, however, the Llanelli keeper, as so often this season, proved his worth, diving to his left to keep out the attempt and preserve the status quo.
There then came a contentious incident which saw Logan being wiped out by Clarke who had sprinted some 20-30 yards off his line to prevent his run up the left, with the referee deciding that a yellow card was sufficient punishment for the offence.
Early in the second half, the home side had the ball in the net again, this time from a Jake Thomas header, but once more it was ruled out for offside.
As the half progressed, the visitors began to assert themselves more, and when Bateman seized on a high clearance he made ground into the box before firing his finish into the side netting.
Weaver brought off a saving tackle on Reed when he threatened to break through the middle on goal, while at the other end, Gavin Jones blazed over the top following some good build-up work involving Logan who laid on the chance.
On 63 minutes, the home side finally got the breakthrough, when a Strinati corner into the middle was initially directed on to Kyle Jones whose close range header gave Dimonekene no chance.
The visitors then made their first change, with Ben Bowler-Edwards replacing Williams, and he was in action almost immediately, threading a ball through to Jones whose effort was just off target.
Cambrian retaliated, with Reid lofting his finish over the goal from a delivery across the area, while Bateman just failed to make contact when Logan drilled a ball across the face of the net.
A Callum Saunders effort launched into the home goalmouth caused all sorts of problems, leading to a scramble in front of the net with the ball seemingly crossing the line, but again an offside flag ruled out the attempt.
Try as they might, the Reds could not unlock the home defence, and at the close would probably concede their opponents deserved the three points.
They have a chance to redeem themselves on Friday evening at Stebonheath, with the visit of Cwmbran Celtic. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.
Saunders stars as Llangennech beat Gowerton
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.
Llanelli Town announce triple signing
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.
Scarlets v Dragons postponed
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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