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Draw sets up tense finish

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Bangor City 2

Carmarthen Town 2

Equalising penalty: Liam Thomas powers the ball home (Pic. Dan Nieroda)

(Pic. Dan Nieroda)

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.

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Sport

Gascoigne entertains Llanelli

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OVER 400 people were at attendance in the Selwyn Samuel Centre in Llanelli on Saturday (Jun 18) to see former England legend Paul Gascoigne talk about his life and footballing career.

Gazza had the crowd in stitches with his stories from his past and was visibly emotional with the crowd’s warm reaction to him being there.

At one point a member of the crowd asked him if he could play one last game for one team who would it be… his answer was Swansea City to the crowds delight.

His next event will be in Tenby on September 17. The event was kindly sponsored by RDH Contractors and Sylan Lakes holiday cottages in five roads.

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Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’

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EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.

Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.

49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.

In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.

“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.

“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.

“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”

Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.

Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.

He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.

Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.

The trial is expected to last five days.

Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,

“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”

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Llanelli edged out as Ynystawe pull off mammoth chase

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A SCORE of 331-4 would normally be enough for a team to pick up victory, but South Wales Premier Division 2 leaders Ynystawe had other ideas as they pulled off a remarkable chase on Saturday (Jun 4).

Llanelli had been asked to bat first after Ynystawe had won the toss and their total was underpinned by a brilliant unbeaten century from Iwan Rees.

The opener hit sixteen fours and four sixes in his knock of 153 which came off 146 balls.

He had good support from Steven Devonald who scored 29 and Rhydian Morgan who scored 20 (2 fours, 1 six).

Rees and Rhys Harris shared the best stand of the match as they put on 157 runs for the fourth wicket.

Harris hit 12 fours in his score of 87 from 74 balls but he was out to the bowling of Rhys Palmer.

Rhys Westcott also finished unbeaten on 18 from 11 balls as Ynystawe were set 332 to win the game.

In reply, opener Nathan Lee scored 20 before falling to Jac Rees who also then took the wicket of Morgan Hodges on a score of 23.

Carl Roberts played well for his half century, hitting eight fours in his score of 56 before being trapped leg before by Aled Gilley.

Andrew Beasley was run out on a score of 15 and that left Ynystawe on 140-4.

Thomas Morgan and Luke Garthwaite shared 93 runs for the fifth wicket. Both reached their half centuries but Morgan was out to Iwan Rees on a score of 50.

Rees also bowled Ceri Durke and Rhys Palmer was run out by Rhydian Morgan having hit a four and a six in a quickfire score of 15.

That left Ynystawe 275-7 and they only had six overs left to get their target.

Garthwaite was on a score of 75 when Palmer fell and he took control as he smashed his way to a century.

He finished unbeaten on 118 from 67 balls after hitting 20 fours and two sixes. The last of his fours won the game for the home side as they ended up winning with two overs to spare.

On Saturday, June 11, Llanelli host Cowbridge while Ynynstawe travel to Penarth.

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