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Road to Russia ended by the Republic

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By Jonathan Twigg

WALES’ World Cup journey ended on Monday (Oct 9) at the Cardiff City Stadium when they were beaten 1-0 with a goal by James McClean of the Republic of Ireland in an emotional, tense but drab encounter.

The evening started with a rousing rendition of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, which moved the crowds mood to a crescendo and the Welsh team, lacking the mercurial Gareth Bale responded through possession and territory, which failed to generate chances to open the scoring.

The requirement was simple; beat the visitors and take a pathway through the play offs, probably as a seeded team and if luck   ran with the Welsh players then maybe gaining automatic qualification if Serbia didn’t beat Georgia. Neither happened as Martin O’Neil, manager of the ’boys in green’ conjured up a master plan to outwit his opposite number Chris Coleman.

Predicted as the biggest game for Wales in a generation, after the disappointment of play-off elimination at the hands of Russia in 2004, a Paul Bodin penalty miss in the fatal night in 1994 and perhaps back as far as Scotland’s Joe Jordan’s handball in 1978.  Wales can’t make that final step to infinity and the World Cup Finals, their last game being a quarter final defeat at the hands of champions Brazil in Gothenburg, Sweden, although an inspired semi-final performance at the 2016 Euro’s had heightened the publics expectations, perhaps falsely.

Without Bale, the collective team spirit needed to come to the fore for the Dragon, but it failed to ignite against an Irish team which out muscled them in key areas.  Stoke City’s Pembrokeshire born midfielder Joe Allen left the field in a groggy state after being the filling in a sandwich, the bread supplied by skipper David Meyler and striker McClean.  Wales couldn’t adapt to the loss of Allen with the normally bright Aaron Ramsey and youngster Lawrence unable to produce the magic moments.

The winner came in the 57 minute with the crowd rekindling the spirit of Euro 2016 with a rendition of ‘please don’t take me home’ when Jeff Hendrick robbed skipper Ashley Williams of the ball to whip in a cross from the right hand side for McClean to meet on the half volley.

The goal which stunned 30,000 voices into silence, 3000 Irishmen apart, saw Wales fall behind for the first time in the World Cup qualifying campaign and the crowd felt the unease as the team struggled to gain parity in the game.

Reflection shouldn’t be on the disappointing result in the final game, more perhaps on the team’s inability to secure three points in fixtures they were in control of during the campaign.

In 12 months they drew with Austria, Georgia, Serbia twice and the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, the first four of those fixtures saw them leading on each occasion.  Coming into the last game they had won three on the bounce and held prime position for qualification for the play-offs in their own hands.

The defeat, a first on home soil since Serbia in 2013 takes some of the momentum out of Chris Coleman’s managerial reign, where a top draw offering of a return to Club football may see him venture to pastures new.

It could also mark the end for some stalwart performers as Ashley Williams, Chris Gunter and Joe Ledley head a list of players who may find another two year campaign too much for their aging limbs.

Wales’ golden generation may well be changing although the future is bright with a conveyor belt of talented youngsters now on the verge of the squad.

Optimism remains high from a Welsh public desperate to see their heroes reach a World Cup Final, where we are ranked thirteenth in the World.

There is still time for the Dragon’s roar to breath some real fire on the World stage.

Sport

Neyland Town council to meet cricket clubs’ Village Cup expenses

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NEYLAND TOWN COUNCIL has agreed to donate £250 to the town’s cricket club as they continue their National Village Cup campaign.

Neyland beat Cresselly in the Dyfed Area final earlier this month to progress to the last 32 of the competition.

This Sunday (Jun 20), they travel to the West Midlands to take on Milford Hall and the town’s mayor has agreed to meet their expenses.

If Neyland can continue their journey in the Village Cup a final at ‘the home of cricket’, Lords awaits in September.

Mayor Simon Hancock said: “As Mayor, in consultation with the clerk, we have agreed to make a donation of £250 to Neyland Cricket Club to help meet their expenses in travelling to Stafford in the West Midlands on Sunday.

“They are down to the final 32 teams left in the Voneus Village Cup originally drawing 350 teams from England, Scotland and Wales.

“The Neyland Cricket team have achieved astonishing success over recent years and Neyland Town Council want to assist them in reaching Lords, ‘the home of cricket’ in September. Good luck for Sunday’s fixture.”

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Crymych cricket club face folding if players don’t come forward

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CRYMYCH Cricket Club has launched an appeal for new players to join the club as it looks to fulfil its fixtures.

The club, founded 40 years ago, plays in Division 4 of the Pembroke County Cricket Club league but has seen several players unable to commit to playing due to family or other reasons.

They also play games in the Ken Morris Cup and in the Tivy Valley League during weekdays.

On their social media, the club has warned that they face folding if they are unable to find new players.

Crymych’s latest fixture on Saturday, June 12, had to be cancelled because they were unable to raise a team.

It meant that there opponents, Llechryd Seconds, were awarded the 20 points as Crymych were unable to fulfil the fixture.

This Saturday (Jun 19), Crymych are scheduled to visit Whitland seconds and the following week (Jun 26) they are scheduled to face Carew thirds on home soil.

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Cresselly see off Pembroke Dock to reach Alec Colley quarters

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CRESSELLY booked their place in the quarter finals of the Alec Colley Cup on Wednesday night (Jun 16) as they beat Pembroke Dock.

The Dock won the toss and elected to field but they saw the home side reach 183-5 in their 20 overs.

Scott Arthur and Mike Venables shared 62 runs for the opening wicket as they batted well together.

Bowyn Clark made the breakthrough for the Dock as he bowled Arthur who had hit a four and two sixes in his score of 26.

Soon after, Rhys Daley trapped Julian Arthur leg before wicket and he also bowled Venables on a score of 32 (three fours, one six) to leave the hosts on 72-3.

However, Simon Cole and Damian Arthur shared an excellent fourth wicket stand worth 101 runs.

Arthur his six fours and a six in his score of 43 from 28 balls but he was caught by Chris Owen off the bowling of John Camani.

Simon Cole hit ten fours in a score of 66 from 40 balls as Cresselly set the Dock an imposing target.

Needing 184 to win, the Dock lost Rhys Daley early on when he was bowled by Morgan Lewis.

Archie Hillier-Wood and Anton John shared 30 runs for the second wicket but it was Lewis again who made the breakthrough as he had John caught by Josh Lewis.

Hillier-Wood and Peter Kingdom shared another 30 runs for the third wicket before Josh Lewis had Kingdom caught by Julian Arthur.

Matthew Lewis then trapped Hillier-Wood leg before on a score of 30 to reduce the Dock to 73-4.

Corey Lewis bowled John Camani before Simon Cole bowled Adam Phillips on a score of 18.

The Dock’s score had been helped along by 25 extras but time began to run out for them and Corey Lewis picked up his second wicket late on to reduce the Dock on 116-7.

It meant that Cresselly picked up the win by 67 runs.

Elsewhere, Herbrandston booked their place in the quarter finals as they beat Llechryd.

Llechryd scored 100-9 in their innings before Herbie passed their target with only two wickets down.

The nights’ other match saw Saundersfoot take on Stackpole.

Stackpole reached a score of 85-7 in their innings before Saundersfoot eased to a 10-wicket win.

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