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Reds see off Celtic

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LLANELLI TOWN completed their home 2021 league fixtures with a reasonably comfortable win over Cwmbran Celtic on Friday night (Dec 17), although they made heavy weather of it at times.

Leading through a Nathan Logan strike on the stroke of half time, it was not until the 63rd minute when they were awarded a penalty converted by James Loveridge that they could finally feel the three points were safe.

Once again, injuries forced some positional changes to the starting line-up, with Dylan Williams, who had featured in a striking role in the previous game at Cambrian & Clydach, now being asked to take over at full back in place of Miles John, while Ben Bowler-Edwards made his senior debut in midfield instead of the absent Sam Parsons, and both emerged with credit.

In addition, the substitutes bench contained another three academy players in Owain Phillips- Taylor, Sion Dafydd Williams and goalkeeper Evan Williams, a testament to the strength of a thriving youth set-up throughout the club.

An entirely forgettable 20 opening minutes burst into some kind of life with the visitors launching an attack up the right involving Jack Martin and Alex McDowell, culminating in the latter firing over the top when the chance presented itself.

When the hosts eventually cobbled together some worthwhile passes which involved Loveridge and Logan, they in turn played in Callum Bateman, but his finish was a wild one, high over the Celtic goal.

The visitors came close to opening their account when it took a clearance out of the goalmouth by Louis Gerrard to prevent Isaac Powell steering his finish just inside the far post.

At the other end, a Callum Saunders free kick awarded just outside the box for a foul on Gavin Jones skimmed the bar and landed on top of the roof of the net, but with the interval imminent, the Reds finally broke the stalemate on the stroke of half time when Gerrard lofted a delivery to the far side of the area which was met by Logan, who struck a superb first time volley which gave Lewis Watkins in the Celtic goal no chance of stopping.

Encouraged by this late first half success, the hosts were quickly on the front foot after the restart, with Bateman striking the bar after Jones had set up the chance, while Logan went down in the box under a challenge, but referee Tom Bevan waved play on.

The visitors again went close through Powell, whose quick turn and shot from the edge of the area flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

When the home side countered through Logan, he found Williams up in support, and it took a smart save by Watkins to deny the youngster from extending the lead by pushing his finish over the bar.

Another of the home academy recruits was then instrumental in earning a penalty award when Bowler-Edwards was played though by Logan and made ground into the box before being brought down by Watkins who had advanced off his line, earning the Celtic captain a yellow card, in the 63rd minute.

Loveridge stepped up to take the kick and made no mistake with his assured finish from the spot.

With their two-goal cushion, the Reds were now dictating matters, and Bateman had a near post effort grabbed on the line by Watkins, while Logan made inroads down the left before driving his finish into the side-netting.

Exauce Dimonekene had enjoyed a relatively quiet evening in the home goal, but he was called into some meaningful action when in attempting to cut out a through ball, his feet inadvertently slid out of his area, leading to a free kick to the visitors in a dangerous position.

This was driven goalwards by Powell, leading to an almighty scramble in front of the net, but with the home defence standing firm, the ball was eventually diverted off a visiting player for a harmless goal kick.

With the contest entering its closing stages, there was just time for Bateman to force Watkins to push another effort around the upright for a fruitless corner, but the home side will be pleased to round off their home programme with three points, with a couple of difficult games awaiting over the festive period.

These both involve Briton Ferry Llansawel, with the first at Old Road on Monday, December 27, kick off 12noon, while the return at Stebonheath is on New Year`s Day, Saturday, January 1, with a 2.30pm start.

Photo by Darren Harries

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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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