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Britton earns point in first game

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WITH all the talk of Brexit emanating in the bleak mid winter around the United Kingdom the irony wasn’t lost that Swansea City turned to a Britton on Saturday (Dec 23) in a bid to ensure they remain part of the lucrative Premier League.

After dismissing manager Paul Clement earlier in the week, 35 year old fan-favourite and former Club captain Leon Britton became the third manager in 11 months to take up the hot seat at the Liberty stadium, the sixth incumbent in two years. Passion, pride and tenacity are words used to describe Britton in his 452 club appearances and he at least ensured the side were motivated to play in this pre-Christmas fixture.

The industrious midfielder is a man small in stature but one with a lion’s heart clearly displayed on his sleeve and his side showed spirit to draw the game 1-1, in doing so taking a point from a fixture for the first time this season when they have conceded the game’s opening goal.  One swallow wouldn’t make a summer for the rock bottom Swans, who travel to Liverpool on Boxing Day but caretaker manager Britton knows points are a premium in ensuring Premier League survival come May.

Brexit champion Theresa May would draw strength from a man like Britton in her corner as he instilled a sense of belief from the fans and players, whilst the Swans board experienced some turbulence, directly to Huw Jenkins and American Directors Jason Levin and Steve Kaplan.

For the third season running a manager has departed the Liberty Stadium in December, Gary Monk in 2015, Bob Bradley last season and Clement with history telling us in 1914 Walter Whitaker lost his job as manager of the Swans and at least reminding us that football is unpredictable at best.

41 years in management, six longer than Britton has walked this earth and former England head honcho Roy Hodgson galvanised visitors Crystal Palace season after arriving at the Club in September.

With no points after the opening seven fixtures of the season, including a 2-0 loss to Swansea in August the Eagles from South London are now flying, unbeaten in nine games and out of the relegation zone with 18 points.

Luck plays a part and captain Frederico Fernandez gave away a clumsy penalty just before the hour mark, the third penalty conceded this week by Swansea and Luka Milivojević made no mistake for 1-0.

Swansea for this game had been playing the Swansea way, going ‘back to a being a Jack’ as they kept the ball, moved at pace and worked closely in areas of the field which allowed crosses to be supplied into the box.

Nathan Dyer, Martin Olsson and Kyle Naughton orchestrated the best moves where 85% of the 596 passes were accurate.

What was lacking, as it has been all season was the product with young striker Tammy Abraham isolated and lacking confidence to turn half chances into goals.

Dyer had a thirst to go hunting the ball and drew some treatment alongside Abraham from the Palace enforcers and despite some yuletide work from Tom Carroll the only festive song of note in the first half was the visitors rendition of ‘glad all over.’

Wilfred Zaha was a cut above those on the field as the Swansea crowd could appreciate a complete footballer but such is the passion in South Wales their enchantment for their own sides bravery and effort never wavered even after the Serbian struck with the penalty kick.

Britton stepped up to the plate and Jordan Ayew’s introduction after 64 minutes was the spark needed to ignite the flame.  The home side were more direct, testing goalkeeper Julian Speroni and chances arose much to the delight of the 20354 present.

The game was open, end to end which suited the Liberty faithful, safe in the knowledge Lukas Fabianski was untroubled in the home goal. The equaliser came with 12 minutes remaining, Ayew sending a flying James McArthur a Christmas cracker of a dummy, making quick yards to the edge of the penalty area and unleashing a right footed pile driver into the left hand corner for his first goal in 15 games.

‘Support the team not the regime’ was a mantra from the East stand which blasted out Hymns and Arias as the all whites were on the front foot but to no avail when referee Craig Pawson called a halt to the game after five minutes of added time.  Roll back time 12 months and Swansea were also bottom of the league, albeit they have one more point after Saturday than this time last season.

Post match Roy Hodgson spoke about how it “was going to take time to get back on an even keel” which his Palace side have achieved. Britton can take heart from that advice as he looks at exchanging his players passport to the ‘blue passport’ of management in time and perhaps trigger his own ‘article 50’.

He spoke himself about the Boxing Day trip to Anfield as “a brilliant moment for myself and my family” and the Swansea family know the importance of ensuring they remain in contact with the sides above them outside the relegation zone. A trip to Watford follows the Liverpool game before Tottenham arrive for the first game of the New Year, with Harry Kane, a man who has had more shots this season than Swansea’s entire team looking to emulate his 2017 record haul of 37 goals in a calendar year.

Nothing is easy in the Premier League but by the end of January the Swans may find themselves with some light at the end of the tunnel with a run of fixtures against Leicester, Burnley, Brighton, West Ham, Huddersfield and Southampton. If Palace can string together a nine game unbeaten run why can’t Swansea , although a wily Hodgson knows “there is a long way to go and it will be a scrap until the end of the season.”

Britton, or the man appointed to guide the Swans must enter the new year with the words of John Lennon’s ‘war is over’ ringing loudly to play ‘without any fear’.

Clement did it last season, picking up the January Manager of the month and there is no reason why it can’t happen again.

Raise a cup of good cheer in the hope of a prosperous New Year as without hope there is no life. Remember this is just football, a game that is more important than life and death according to one well known Scotsman who had a passport stamped across Europe.

Sport

Successful weekend for Croft and O’Sullivan

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CARDIGAN ABC’s Garan Croft was team captain as a Wales boxing team made a successful weekend trip to Ireland, picking up a unanimous points victory over Mathew Tyndall, a six-times Irish national champion at New Ross Youth Centre, County Wexford.

The bout began in lively fashion with both boxers trying to hold the centre of the ring, but midway through the opening round the Crymych teenager had taken control.

Croft, who was landing the cleaner and harder shots, gave Tyndall a standing count in the third round en route to a convincing triumph.

Cardigan’s successful weekend continued at Dagenham, Essex, on Sunday where Fishguard schoolboy Mikey O’Sullivan was part of a Wales Select team who took on Repton, the famous East End club.

Pitted against Albie Smith, O’Sullivan came out with all guns blazing matching the Londoner punch for punch in a very even round.

But in the second the Welsh boy’s superior boxing skills saw him get on top with an excellent display of slipping and counter-punching.

The third round was pretty even with both boxers throwing everything they had, yet O’Sullivan was awarded a split decision victory following his mastery during the second round in what was a great result in Repton’s own back yard.

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Sport

Pembroke hammer Tumble

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PEMBROKE put in one of their best displays of the season on Saturday (Oct 13) as they beat Tumble 56-8.

Tumble travelled from Carmarthenshire with Storm Callum in full force and there was no let up as they faced a storm of another kind as Pembroke ran riot.

Dan Colley got the home side going early on with the first try of the game before Mitchell Jones replied with a penalty for Tumble.

Dom Colman then went over for Pembroke’s second try but the conversion was missed and the home side held a 12-3 lead.

Tumble came forward again and from a lineout they worked the ball left but were then penalised for holding on. Possession switched hands on a couple of occasions before Pembroke almost scored their third try.

From a Tumble scrum, Pembroke overpowered them, pushing them back and Toby Smith picked the ball up and headed for the line. He passed to Fraser James but he dropped the ball as he was going over and the ball was knocked on.

However, they weren’t to be denied their third try as Sam Smith burst through near the posts to touch down giving Toby Smith an ease conversion.

Pembroke then earned their fourth try and a bonus point after good work from Luke Hartland set the ground running for Colley’s second try of the game. Smith then added the extras in front of the posts for a 26-3 lead.

Tumble looked to respond towards the end of the first half when Pembroke were penalised for a tackle off the ball but they were unable to take advantage as the home side kept them out.

At the start of the second half Pembroke came forward and an advantage was played for a high tackle. When it seemed there was no way through the ball was dropped back for Smith who sent a drop goal through the posts.

Colman then went over for his second try before Tom Lewis went over for another two tries.

Fraser James then did get his try and Smith again added the extra two points.

Steffan Price pulled a late try back for Tumble but it did little to affect the final score as Pembroke held on for an emphatic win with Smith claiming a deserved try at the end.

Pembroke now sit fourth in the table and on Saturday (Oct 20) they travel to sixth placed Tycroes.

Tumble have just one win to their name so far this season and on Saturday they are at home to Pontarddulais.

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Sport

Robins breeze past Lawrenny

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PENNAR Robins proved too strong for Lawrenny on Saturday (Oct 13) as they scored ten times to book their place in the third round of the Senior Cup.

Despite the weather conditions the Bush Camp pitch was in excellent condition and the home side dominated for large parts of the game.

Jason Donohoe had an early chance for the Robins but he sent his free kick over the bar.

Josh Clark went on a good run and burst through the challenge of a Lawrenny attacker and although the ball found the back of the net, the ball was deemed to have gone out of play before Clark put his cross in.

With nine minutes gone Donohoe found Sam Southcott but his effort was saved.

Lawrenny won a free kick and Ryan Morton sent the ball into the box which Patrick Elliot headed towards goal but Stuart James was able to make the save.

Connor Roberts then came close to scoring in spectacular fashion but his curling effort was tipped over by Lawrenny keeper Danny Harries.

Nick Willis then saw a shot saved at the front post and he then also saw an acrobatic effort saved as the Robins continued to look for the opening goal.

Harries had to be alert as Donohoe’s cross looked to be going in with the wind but on 22 minutes the Robins finally made the breakthrough.

Southcott played the ball through for Ben Adams on the left and he shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Mikey Powell crossed into the box and Southcott was in the right place at the back post to tap the ball home.

Roberts and Willis combined with a neat one-two but the former sent his effort wide of the post.

The Robins added a third on the half hour mark and they continued to show their dominance with a further seven goals.

Adams and Southcott both completed their hat tricks while Tom Grimwood, Connor Roberts, Scott Trayhern and Luke Phillips all got on the scoresheet.

It was an excellent win for Pennar who must wait and see who they will play in the third round after other games were called off.

On Saturday (Oct 20), Lawrenny are again in cup action as they take on Hundleton in the first round of the Second Division Cup.

Pennar will return to league action as they take on local rivals Lamphey.

Pennar: Stuart James, Josh Clark, Luke Phillips, Ross Lascelles, Mikey Powell, Tom Grimwood, Connor Roberts, Ben Adams, Sam Southcott, Jason Donohoe, Nick Willis. Subs: Jack Phillips, Rhys Lucas, Scott Trayhern.

Lawrenny: Danny Harries, Edward Merriman, James Durbridge, Adam Jenkins, Ryan Morton, Tom Lewis, Patrick Elliot, Matt Lewis, Harry Thomas, Owen James, Tom Cole. Subs: Kieron Johnson, Phil Cole, Sam Davies.

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