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10-man Town send Bluebirds bottom

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Welsh Premier League Playoff

Haverfordwest County 1

Carmarthen Town 2

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 10.23.19CARMARTHEN continued their successful start to the Welsh Premier League second-phase programme by securing their fourth victory in five games after an impressive all-round team effort full of energy and commitment in this keenly-contested local derby with Haverfordwest – this, despite having to play for over an hour with just ten men.

The hosts will be disappointed to have lost the game with something of a whimper, with Town never looking in danger of loosing even when they had a numerical disadvantage.

It now looks increasingly likely that the Bluebirds will be playing their football back in Welsh League Division One next season as they sit nine points adrift of safety with four games to play, after a difficult season back in Wales’ top flight.

From the outset the Old Gold took the initiative, monopolising possession and putting sustained pressure on the home defence with a series of quick raids. And in the 7th minute they twice went close to taking the lead.

First, Kyle Bassett saw his closerange strike blocked in front of goal by a defender – then moments later Mark Jones received the ball deep inside the penalty area and he instantly sent a fine pass back to Kieran Lewis who released a crisp 20 yard drive that drew a smart full-length save from ‘keeper Alex Connell.

Yet they were soon rewarded for this adventurous approach when on 12 minutes, after a swift exchange of passes with Jones, Lewis drifted neatly past his marker and into the penalty area before coolly drilling the ball past Connell and into the net.

Such was Town’s dominance during these opening stages that it was not until the 22nd minute that County created their first notable scoring chance – Kieran Howard raced forward into the penalty area then fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Luke Borelli wastefully stabbed the ball over the bar.

But this was shortly followed by the incident that would change the whole nature of this contest. Lewis, having been shown the yellow card albeit rather harshly just minutes beforehand, foolishly got involved in a needless challenge and was again similarly cautioned leading to his automatic dismissal from the field – and Carmarthen were left to play the rest of the game without their most influential player.

Unsurprisingly, the hosts straightaway began to compete better and enjoy more possession and territorial advantage. But still they were unable to make any real impression on the Old Gold defence which featured the now customary central pairing of Dwaine Bailey and Dave Vincent who remained assured and disciplined under pressure – and they received excellent support on the flanks from Jordan Knott and Dan Sheehan, playing with equal conviction and reliability. As a result, Haverfordwest failed to produce a notable effort on target during the rest of the first-half.

After the interval County continued to make good use of their numerical advantage and kept pressure on the visitors’ defence, but remained unable to penetrate it. Then, remarkably, on 53 minutes the Old Gold increased their lead following a rare breakaway. Having won a free-kick wide on the left flank, Bassett sent the ball into the packed goalmouth where Vincent leapt high above surrounding defenders and skilfully directed a glancing header beyond the reach of Connell and into the roof of the net.

However, Town’s players had no time to enjoy their two-goal advantage because straight from the re-start the hosts poured upfield and the ball reached Ricky Watts near the corner of the penalty area from where he confidently drove the ball past ‘keeper Lee Idzi.

Encouraged by that success Haverfordwest continued to press forward with increasing urgency and regularity – yet on each occasion they were unable, in any meaningful way, to breach the outstanding Old Gold defence which by now was routinely augmented by industrious midfielders Ceri Morgan, Luke Cummings and Bassett.

And behind that defensive screen the experienced Idzi commanded his area in his customary assured manner and safely dealt with numerous crosses, corners and free kicks – and the hosts’ very infrequent scoring efforts.

Meanwhile tireless strikers Mark Jones and Liam Thomas, when not also otherwise engaged in defensive activities, used their pace and mobility to good effect by keeping County defenders fully occupied with occasional counter-attacks none of which, however, produced a serious goal threat.

This magnificent team effort has now ensured that Carmarthen are mathematically safe from relegation and, given their recent performances, they remain well-placed to secure the coveted UEFA play-off qualifying spot at the end of the WPL programme.

Teams:

Haverfordwest County: Alex Connell; Ricky Watts; Sean Pemberton; Dale Griffiths; Sam Rodon; Luke Borelli; Declan Carroll; Kristian Speake; Kieran Howard; Nicky Palmer; Jason Bertorelli.

Substitutes: Greg Walters; Craig Morris; Tomas Wellington; Alfie Stottor.

Carmarthen Town: Lee Idzi; Dan Sheehan; Dwaine Bailey; Dave Vincent; Jordan Knott; Luke Cummings; Kieran Lewis; Ceri Morgan; Kyle Bassett (sub Craig Hanford 90+3); Mark Jones; Liam Thomas;

Unused Substitutes: Luke Prosser; Jeff White; Glen Fearn; James Kirkwood.

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Sport

Signed Wales shirts gifted to RNLI go up for auction

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FOLLOWING a winning start to the Six Nations Tournament, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have scored a winning try for the RNLI, gifting six signed rugby shirts to help save lives at sea.

Each rugby shirt has been signed by the full WRU squad and are accompanied by a certificate of authentication – a winning prize for any Welsh rugby fan.

To avoid a ruck for the WRU shirts the charity has placed all six signed shirts on an online auction, ensuring a fair game for all who wish to win the golden prize. The auction will be live until Wednesday, March 31, which allows plenty of time for supporters to bid for the team in red.

Each signed shirt includes Wales Captain, Mumbles RNLI supporter and the most capped international player of all time Alun Wyn Jones; as well as Louis Rees-Zammit, the Man of the Match in the nail-biting Scotland v Wales game.

Nick Evans, RNLI Fundraising and Partnership Lead said: ‘On behalf of the charity I would like to say a big thank you to the Welsh Rugby Union for donating these fantastic prizes to the RNLI. RNLI volunteers are on call 24-7 and are often called away from important events such as family celebrations – or international rugby tournaments – to respond to the pager if someone is in trouble at sea.

‘Like all charities, 2020 was a challenging year for the RNLI when all traditional fundraising had to stop – all our shops were closed, there were no collections and all events had to be cancelled. This is why we at the RNLI are so grateful to all the team at WRU for their ongoing support. The auction is now live and we would like to encourage all Wales rugby supporters to throw the RNLI a lifeline and place their bid for the winning prize.’

To place a bid or find out more about the charity auction please visit https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/rnliwru.

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Five subs to be allowed for JD Cymru Premier clubs

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THE FAW’s National Leagues Board has confirmed that JD Cymru Premier clubs will be permitted to make five substitutions in matches, in accordance with the Laws of the Game, until the end of the 2020-21 top-flight season.

FIFA extended the use of the rule, which was first introduced following the COVID-19 outbreak, citing “player welfare” as part of the reason for the temporary amendment to Law 3 of the Laws of the Game.

FIFA stated that “Some competitions which resumed in 2020 may have a shorter-than-usual recovery/preparation period before the start of their next season.”

“For many competitions, the 2020/21 season will involve matches being played in a condensed period due to a delayed start and the inability to end later than usual because of major international tournaments.”

With the JD Cymru Premier set to restart on March 2, the National Leagues Board has approved the use of the rule in the JD Cymru Premier until the end of the current campaign.

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Haverfordwest County’s remaining phase 1 fixtures released

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HAVERFORDWEST County will return to action on Saturday, March 6, with a home game against Cardiff Met University.

The JD Cymru Premier has been granted elite status by the National Sports Group once again and the FAW has announced the rescheduled fixtures.

The first fixture upon the return will see Newtown AFC host Penybont on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 live on Facebook via Sgorio’s platforms.

Bala Town travel to The New Saints on Sgorio on March 6, 2021 with a 5pm kick off.

This will be followed by a full host of fixtures on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

The new calendar sees clubs play their final six matches of Phase One, which is now due to be completed on April 4, 2021.

Haverfordwest County’s remaining fixtures for phase 1 are listed below.

March 6 – 14:30

Haverfordwest County FC v Cardiff Met University FC

March 9 – 19:45

Aberystwyth Town FC v Haverfordwest County FC

March 13 – 14:30

Haverfordwest County FC v The New Saints FC

March 20 – 14:30

Connah’s Quay Nomads FC v Haverfordwest County FC

March 27 – 14:30

Newtown AFC v Haverfordwest County FC

April 2 – 17:00

Penybont FC v Haverfordwest County FC

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