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Record-breaking City too strong for Swans

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By Jonathan Twigg

EXPECTATION wasn’t one of those words which was running closely to Swansea’s hearts as the side, rock bottom of the Premier League welcomed table topping Manchester City to the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday (Dec 13), with anything short of a superhuman performance could prevent a landmark fifteenth consecutive win for City.

Swansea had overcome West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in a dour fixture three day before at the same venue and the home side started the game based on a strong defensive organisation, making the swashbuckling City line up look for space between the stoic lines.

Half chances came and were wasted by a jaded visiting offensive unit, perhaps the emotion of the weekends Manchester derby hanging over them?

The Swans had acceded to allowing music in the changing room, a gesture which wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by mercurial leader Pep Guardiola, where Oasis were charged with pumping up the volume.

There was no storm in a tea cup here and the normal football service resumed just before the half hour when Silva ghosted into the penalty area unnoticed to put City on course for that record breaking win, removing the Spurs record which had stood since 1961 to the annals of time, though few will forget the late, great manager Bill Nicholson’s tenure at White Hart Lane.

Ten minutes before half time a Kevin De Bruyne free kick from the left hand corner of the penalty area doubled the lead when he shot through a plethora of bodies to leave Fabianski grasping at thin air.

37 years ago to the day a famous Welsh talisman made his debut for the then league champions Liverpool, at Portman Road, Ipswich and how the all whites could do with such an icon these days.

They have an abundance of effort which was encouraging for the home support, but the difference in quality between the two sides was evident telling its own story in terms of league position.

The mantra instilled through ‘Pep’ allows his side to play with confidence but more importantly without fear which forced errors from a Swansea side guilty at times of sloppy defending.

A sprightlier second half from Swansea came courtesy of Tammy Abraham, the on loan Chelsea striker making an immediate impact off the bench for Tom Carroll, with his pace to worry a normally composed central defensive partnership of Mangala and Otamendi.

The spirt shown didn’t last, with the visiting fans singing ‘glad all over’ to their manager, watching the diminutive Silva slip through from the left hand side of the penalty area to make it 3-0.

Football is to be appreciated, with the movement, skills and desire to work as a team epitomising a side with a willingness to win, for each other but more importantly the team.

City were human, Aguero wasting a gilt edged opportunity when he was clear with a four on two overlap, whilst Ederson made a wonderful reflex save from a deflective shot from Mesa to keep the score line 3-0.

Fabianski was on top form and without him the City would have been home and dry long before Aguero, a man for match winning occasions notably a 2015 championship strike in injury time, drove with determination to leave a wake of several trailing bodies to score a fourth with five minutes remaining.

In contrast Ki Sing-Yeung’s body shape didn’t give him the freedom to pull a consolation goal back for his beleaguered side, who remain bottom of the Premier League, adrift of safety by two points.

The match statistics show the dominance, with nearly five times the number of shots rifling forth under the ‘blue moon’ and each pass greeted with a continuum of ‘ole’.

Swansea have a long way to go in the season where one swallow doesn’t make a summer and the important message for Paul Clement is one of keeping the faith as he has 20,870 loyal backbenchers believing in him.

He takes his side to Merseyside twice in the next 12 days with a dogfight at home against fellow relegation candidates Crystal Palace on Saturday (Dec23) sandwiched between.

They end the year travelling to Vicarage Road to play Watford with the hope they will have gleaned close to eighteen points before Tottenham Hotspur arrive at the Liberty to start the New Year.

Hope reigns eternal that 2018 will be a better one for Swansea as without hope the reliance of Father Christmas bringing some fortune hangs above the managers’ head. Mistletoe, that gift is not where the minimum is a cup of good cheer.

Sport

Greene’s double sinks Swifts

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MERLINS Bridge booked their place in the last 16 of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Dec 8) as they beat Monkton Swifts 3-0 at the Racecourse.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game that was played in blustery conditions which caused problems for both teams throughout the match.

Neither side was able to gain an upper hand in the first half but it was the Wizards who eventually took the lead shortly before half time.

A slip allowed Joe Leahy in and went one-on-one with the Swifts keeper before finding the back of the net.

The windy conditions continued in the second half and Will Haworth came close to doubling the home side’s lead but his shot was saved.

They then made it 2-0 as Haworth crossed from the left for Nathan Greene at the back post who headed low and into the net.

Peter Thomas then played a good one-two with Greene but Thomas sent his shot over the bar.

Greene could have had a second soon after but, after the Swifts keeper had come off his line, he could only send his effort over the bar.

He wasn’t to be denied his second however as a through ball set him up and he fired low into the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 3-0.

On Saturday (Dec 15), Merlins Bridge return to league action with a game against bottom side Milford United at Marble Hall.

Monkton Swifts will look to bounce back as they travel to Herbrandston.

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Bluebirds prepare for Pontypridd test

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HAVERFORDWEST County will be looking to progress to the next round of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday (Dec 8), when they welcome Pontypridd Town to the Bridge Meadow.

The Bluebirds enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win against Swansea University in the last round having previously beaten STM Sports 2-1 away from home in the first round.

They currently sit third in Welsh League Division 1 with seven wins from their ten games so far this season.

They will also be looking for another cup run having already reached the fourth round of the League Cup.

Visitors Pontypridd also enjoyed a thrilling 6-3 win in their second round game with Goytre and they also won 2-1 away from home against Llanidloes Town in the first round.

They may sit second from bottom in Division 1 of the Welsh Leagues but their cup run has shown that they should not be underestimated.

The game is a repeat of the third round tie from last year which Pontypridd won 3-1 and the Bluebirds will be looking to avenge that defeat.

This is the Bluebirds’ only home game in December so make sure you get down to the Bridge Meadow to show your support.

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Sport

Bowen wins Young Sportsman of the Year

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WELSH jockey, James Bowen, 17, has won the Carwyn James Young Sportsman of the Year Award at the Wales Sports Awards on Tuesday, December 4, at The Celtic Manor.

The Awards which are an annual amalgamation of BBC Cymru Wales and Sports Wales to make the biggest Welsh Sporting celebration of the year, it is intended to showcase the best of both elite and grassroot level of sporting achievement.

Speaking to James on his award he said: “It came as a bit of a shock to me, I didn’t realise I had done that well this year”.

Bowen, who has been racing for the past 18 months, at just 16 became the youngest rider to win the Coral Welsh Grand National in 2018 on Raz De Maree. He is no stranger when it comes to awards, recently collecting the Rising Star Award at the inaugural Welsh Horse Racing Awards at Chepstow Racecourse.

On his Rising Star Award James said: “It was exciting to win this award as it’s the first time these awards have been done at the racecourse”.

On his recent career highlights James added: “I would like to thank everybody who has worked with me over the years, and all the trainers who have helped me get here.”

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