By Jonathan Twigg
A MAN of the match performance from Captain Wilfried Bony led the charge for Swansea City on Saturday (Dec 9) when his second goal in consecutive games sealed a dour 1-0 victory on a dark and gloomy afternoon over West Bromwich Albion at the Liberty Stadium.
Securing a valuable three points lifted Paul Clements under pressure Swans side off the foot of the Premier League table as Bony’s winner sparked a chorus of ‘Hymns and Arias’ with nine minutes remaining.
Substitute Tammy Abraham’s effort was cleared off the line at the far post from a Ki Sung-Yueng corner before the Ivory Coast strikers’ driven right foot shot which thundered beyond former England goalkeeper Ben Foster.
The Swans started the game at the foot of the table but took solace from the fact they had won five out of six fixtures when they had been in a similar situation previously. Their visitors hadn’t won a game in the Premier League for four months and were on a run of three consecutive defeats in their travels to West Wales.
The green shirted Albion started brightly keeping the ball and moving it around across the floor much unlike teams who play under their new manager Alan Pardew’s banner.
Without creating opportunities apart from a Jake Livermore shot midway through the half to punish the home side, the play meandered precariously towards stalemate at half time, unsurprisingly perhaps as former Bayern Munich Assistant Manager Paul Clements side had netted just eight goals in 15 league games.
Winger Nathan Dyer drew a foul from Claudio Yacob after 18 minutes which earned him yellow card which proved to be a catalyst for the apprehension surrounding Swansea’s play subsiding for the remainder of the first half as they gained superiority in terms of possession and territory.
The closest they came was when midfielder Livermore headed against his own post from a dipping Tom Carroll free kick as the visitors screened the play well through skipper Jonny Evans and his centre back partner Yacob across the 18 yard box.
Bony’s opportunities were restricted despite midfielders Carroll, Ki and Roque Mesa enterprising combinations with Dyer and full back Martin Olsson getting behind the opposition defence through the outside channels, where Sam Field collected a yellow card after 35 minutes as he tried to disrupt the inter play.
Centre half Alfie Mawson squandered a great opportunity to head an opening goal when he found space six yards out with seven minutes remaining before Swansea came out for the second half on the front foot.
Bony managed to break the defensive shackles on him with a strong and direct run but pulled a driven shot wide of the post, which added to the derisory tally of 27 shots on target this season for his side, the worst across any of the major European leagues.
Clement’s introduction of Jordan Ayew after 54 minutes for Wayne Routledge injected more spirit and it created opportunities to test Foster, from which Bony drew heart to become an influential figure on the game as the Baggies eventually wilted under the pressure and conceded the only goal.
Tammy Abraham should have sealed the victory in injury time when he was worked free to stride beyond the covering defenders only to wrench his effort wide when one on one with Foster, an effort which the eighteenth created in the match, but only three were on target.
Mesa picked up a second half yellow card as did Carroll before he was replaced by Luciano Narsingh, with Evans and substitute Chris Brunt for the Albion, alongside Welsh striker Hal Robson Kanu as he berated referee Dean on his way off the field to be replaced just before the goal, by Oliver Burke.
The crowd of 19,590 greeted the final whistle knowing they find themselves a point adrift Alan Pardew’s side who hover one place outside the relegation places; two wins would catapult Swansea to mid-table, which would be a welcome festive tonic as the January transfer window opens, allowing Clement an opportunity to re-inforce his squad which for most of this season has looked short on the quality required for survival in the Premier League.
Their first win since October was certainly scrappy where the immaculately dressed Clements’ initial reaction to Bony’s strike was to dance down the touchline coupled with a huge sigh of relief to go with his elation.
His bold offensive substitutions achieved the result he required as unbeaten table toppers Manchester City visit on Wednesday evening to fully test Clements’ skills and aptitude as a focused and thoughtful tactician.
The roadshow then heads to Goodison Park to take on an Everton side themselves on a run of four unbeaten games since former England supremo Sam Allardyce took the reins before fellow relegation rivals Crystal Palace arrive at the Liberty for a key Yuletide fixture on Saturday (Dec 23).
Swansea head on the road after Christmas, firstly again to Merseyside to face Liverpool at Anfield on Boxing Day and Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday (Dec 30) before hosting Tottenham Hotspur at home on Saturday (Jan 2).
Clement and his side will take confidence from Saturday’s victory which has eased the pressure in the cauldron after Club owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien afforded Clement their ‘public support’.
Cresselly knock out holders Neyland
THERE will be a new name on the Harrison Allen Trophy this year after holders Neyland were knocked out by Cresselly on Thursday night (Jun21).
Thursday’s game was a repeat of the 2017 final and Cresselly were keen to exact some revenge for that defeat.
However, such revenge seemed unlikely at the halfway stage as Cresselly were restricted to 112-8 from their 22 overs.
Dan Sutton and Alex Bayley made scores of 12 and 14 respectively before being bowled by Nathan Banner and Nick Koomen.
Iwan Izzard was caught of the bowling of Patrick Hannon and that left Cresselly on 37-3.
Adam Chandler and Phil Williams then shared 42 runs for the fourth wicket as they looked to get the home side going.
Chandler hit 26 for Cresselly but he gave his wicket away as he walked down the wicket to play a shot but he missed the ball and Sean Hannon had an easy stumping.
Ryan Lewis and Dan James were both out without scoring as Neyland continued to bowl well.
Phil Williams added 18 but he was one of three victims to Andrew Miller. Nathan Banner was the pick of the bowlers as he claimed four wickets while Nick Koomen also struck twice.
Neyland would have been confident of reaching their target but an equally as good performance in the field from Cresselly restricted their rivals to 107-7.
In their reply openers Paul Murray scored 12 and Patrick Bellerby added 10 as they shared 29 runs for the first wicket.
Murray was caught by Neilson Cole off the bowling of Mike Shaw and moments later Banner was heading back to the pavilion as he was run out by Ryan Lewis for a duck.
29-2 became 30-3 as Bellerby was caught by Sion Jenkins off the bowling of Lewis. He then claimed his second wicket as he broke a partnership of 15 between Nick Koomen and Gregg Miller with the latter caught behind by Cole.
Nick Koomen had made a patient 23 but was then bowled by Tom Arthur.
Henry Durrant and Scott Jones finished the innings not out on 21 and 23 respectively but it wasn’t enough to take Neyland over the line.
They needed 13 off the last over but were unable to knock off those runs as they finished six runs short of their target.
It means that Cresselly join Llangwm, Lawrenny and Narberth in the last four of the competition and the draw for the semi-finals will be made on Wednesday (Jun 27) at the County Cricket Club meeting.
Lawrenny and Narberth through to last four
LAWRENNY are through to the semi-finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl after they beat St Ishmaels in the quarter final on Tuesday (Jun 19).
Division 2 side Narberth also made it through after they beat Burton on with the last ball of the game. Burton had earlier posted 155-8 from their 22 overs.
Narberth were 85-3 at the halfway stage and scores of 42 from Kyle Quartermaine and 29 from Lewis Hough saw the home side through.
At St Ishmaels, it was the home side who batted first and they posted 157-9 in their 22 overs.
Peter Bradshaw and Jack Nicholas opened the batting with a 22 run partnership before Bradshaw was trapped leg before by Rob Williams.
Nicholas and Brennan Devonald then shared 50 runs for the second wicket as they looked to give their side a good platform to build on.
That partnership was broken when Nicholas was bowled by Brad-McDermott-Jenkins for a score of 34.
Tish then lost three more wickets in quick succession as Devonald was caught by Rob Williams off the bowling of McDermott-Jenkins for a score of 23.
Phil Cockburn was then caught by Ryan Morton off the bowling Jamie Lewis and Andrew Williams was then run out by a brilliant throw from Harry Thomas.
That left Tish on 83-5 but a partnership of 24 steadied the ship. Jon Pawlett was then bowled by Morton for a score of 10 but Danny Howells and Andrew Palmer shared another 22 runs for the seventh wicket.
Howells hit three fours and a six in his knock of 34 but was then caught by Joe Kidney off the bowling of McDermott-Jenkins .
He then went on to claim two more wickets of Danny Flynn and Andrew Pawlett, the first of which brought a spectacular catch from Thomas, to finish with excellent figures of 5-32.
Andrew Palmer finished not out on 28 as Tish reached 157-9.
Lawrenny lost Simon Cole early on in their reply as he was caught by Peter Bradshaw off the bowling of Jon Pawlett.
McDermott-Jenkins and Harry Thomas then shared 43 runs for the second wicket but that was brought to an end when the former was caught by Cockburn off the bowling of Andrew Palmer.
Thomas and James Phillips then shared another good partnership of 52 runs as they passed a hundred runs with only two wickets down.
Phillips hit four fours and three sixes in his knock of 42 but he was then caught by Devonald off the bowling of Andrew Pawlett.
Joe Kidney fell soon after when he was caught by Howells off the bowling of Palmer.
Thomas then shared 28 runs with Patrick Elliot who was then bowled by Andrew Pawlett for a score of 12.
Tish were unable to take any further wickets as Rob Williams finished not out on 9 and Thomas not out on 35 to see their side through to the semi-finals.
Wednesday’s semi-final sees Pembroke hosting Llangwm while on Thursday, Cresselly take on Neyland.
Town on top after beating Neyland
HAVERFORDWEST are the new leaders in Division 1 after they beat NEYLAND by seven wickets on Saturday (Jun 16).
Neyland batted first but were all out for 93 with Adam James taking four wickets for Town. Nick Koomen and Scott Jones both scored 16 but it wasn’t enough for the visitors.
Simon Holliday then finished not out on 39 while Ben Field also scored 39 as Town reached their target with seven wickets still in hand.
CRESSELLY slipped out of first place after they suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of LAWRENNY.
Lawrenny batted first and were all out for 184 with Harry Thomas top scoring on 59 and Simon Cole adding 27.
Phil Williams then top scored with 30 runs for Cresselly in their reply but four wickets from Brad McDermott-Jenkins saw Cresselly bowled out for 143.
WHITLAND moved up to third place in the table as they beat KILGETTY by seven wickets thanks to a half century from Dylan Blain.
Kilgetty batted first but were all out for 147 as Ben Harvey and Matthew Davies both took three wickets.
Liam Cullen scored 49 and Ross Hardy added 45 for Kilgetty while only one other batter made it into double figures.
Jonathan Strawbridge then scored 42 in reply for Whitland while Blain finished not out on 57 to guide his side to victory.
LLANGWM made light work of their game against bottom side JOHNSTON as they bowled them out for 75 with Steve James top scoring on 21.
Ollie Davies took five wickets for Llangwm who went on to reach their target inside 13 overs for the loss of just one wicket.
Noah Davies and Will Beresford shared 68 runs for the first wicket before Davies was out to the bowling of Nathan James for a score of 32.
Beresford finished not out on 41 as Llangwm sealed their fourth win of the season.
ST ISHMAELS picked up a welcome win as they beat BURTON by seven wickets to move out of the bottom two.
Burton reached 142-8 in their innings with Luke Hayman scoring 37 and Morgan Scale adding 28 late on.
Andrew Palmer took four wickets for Tish while Jonathan Pawlett also struck twice.
Tish then reached their target with Daniel Richard scoring 40 and Peter Bradshaw finishing not out on 70.
On Saturday, June 23, new leaders Haverfordwest will look to keep hold of top spot when they take on Burton.
Johnston face a strong Whitland side while Lawrenny are at home as they take on Kilgetty.
Cresselly will look to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat when they travel to Llangwm and Neyland will look to put an end to their recent losing streak as they host St Ishmaels.
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