Bangor City 2
Carmarthen Town 2
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.
Gealey holds nerve to send Stars to victory
NEW DOCK STARS earned their first win of the season on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Bynea 29-30 in a thrilling encounter.
The Dock held a 20-12 lead at half time and were ahead going into the final stages.
Bynea thought they had won the game when a late score put them 29-27 in front.
However, the Stars hit back with time running out and Adam Gealey scored a penalty to win the game for his side.
That gave him a personal haul of 15 points having already scored with two penalties and three conversions.
Dylan Jones scored two tries for the visitors and Jordan Evans got the other.
Bynea’s George MacDonald scored a hat trick of tries and Finlay Cooke also crossed the whitewash once.
James Branson added three conversions and one penalty.
It was a thrilling encounter as both sides belied their positions at the foot of the table.
On Saturday, January 22, the Stars travel to Llandybie while Bynea host Betws.
Photo by Darren Harries
Furnace seal second win
FURNACE UNITED earned their second win of the League 3 West B season on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Llandybie.
Daf Green scored for the Cherries with other tries coming from Joe Qualters-Jones, Myles Harries, Joe Pugh and Jonny Roberts.
Green was successful with three of five conversion attempts and he also added a penalty.
Furnace held a 13-5 lead at half time as Llandybie scored an unconverted try in each half.
Ioan Rees and Josh Watkins scored the tries for the visitors.
On Saturday, January 22, Furnace United travel to Llandeilo while Llandybie host New Dock Stars.
PHOTO by Darren Harries
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.
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