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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

Town back on top as Neyland beat Cresselly

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THE top three in Division 1 are now separated by just four points following Saturday’s (Jul 14) results.

Haverfordwest moved back to the top of the table with a ten wicket win at home to Johnston while Neyland beat Cresselly to bring themselves back into the title race.

Johnston batted first and had it not been for a score of 65 from Hafiz Farooq, their score could have been a lot less than the 148 they posted.

Simon Holliday took four wickets for Town who then had Dai Davies and Ben Field finish unbeaten as they comfortably secured the win.

Cresselly batted first against Neyland but they were restricted to 170-9 with Simon Cole top scoring on 77.

There were three wickets for Henry Durrant who later finished not out on 20 see Neyland to victory. Andrew Miller scored 37 and Paul Murray scored 29 earlier in Neyland’s run chase.

It is the second time this season that Cresselly have been top going into the weekend’s fixtures only to find themselves knocked off top spot following a defeat.

Elsewhere, there were three centuries in the game between Llangwm and Kilgetty in a thrilling encounter at Pill Parks.

Matthew Kiff scored 105 for Llangwm in their total of 297-5 but it wasn’t enough as Ross Hardy scored 106 and Kurtis Marsh finished unbeaten on 113 to see Kilgetty to victory.

Whitland remain in fourth place after they beat St Ishmaels by 114 runs.

It was a day for the batsman as Matthew Davies finished not out on 101 while Jack Bowen added 58 runs.

That saw Whitland to an excellent total of 310-7 but Tish were unable to replicate that score. Daniel Howells did score 73 for the home side but they were eventually all out for 196.

Lawrenny earned an eighth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Burton by two wickets.

Burton batted first but were all out for 142 as Brad McDermott-Jenkins took three wickets for the visitors. Richard Jones was Burton’s top scorer with 40 runs.

Lawrenny had scores of 71 from Steve Lewis and 44 from Steve Campbell as they reached their target despite three wickets apiece from Jack Davies and Johnnie Scale.

Those results mean Haverfordwest are top of the table by a point from second placed Cresselly and by four points from Neyland.

Whitland are sixteen points behind Town in fourth place and cannot be counted out of the title race just yet.

At the other end, Johnston’s defeat means they are now 120 points from safety and with only 150 points left to play for, it seems they are destined for Division 2 cricket next season.

On Saturday (July 21), new leaders Haverfordwest are away as they take on Kilgetty. Neyland are also away as they take on Johnston while Cresselly visit St Ishmaels.

Whitland are at home to Burton and Lawrenny host Llangwm.

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Sport

Neyland hold off Kilgetty to win Duggie Morris

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NEYLAND won the Duggie Morris Cup for the fifth time in six years on Sunday (Jul 15), as they beat Kilgetty by 66 runs in an entertaining final.

Kilgetty had been set a target of 154 to win the match but some excellent bowling from Neyland saw them finish short on 87-9.

Earlier, it was Kilgetty who won the toss and chose to bowl first, giving their opponents the chance to set the first score.

The game was played at the home of Burton Cricket Club with excellent weather conditions and a good crowd was also in attendance.

However, Kilgetty soon had the upper hand as Kurtis Marsh caught Ashley Sutton on a score of 10 to give Jack Parkinson his first wicket.

Paul Murray only scored 13 for Neyland before being trapped leg before by Kurtis Marsh and he then bowled Andrew Miller for a score of 8.

Nick Koomen scored 12 before being caught by Richard Cope off the bowling of Toby Poole and Jack Parkinson claimed his second wicket when he had Patrick Bellerby caught by Poole for a score of 17.

Neyland were struggling to find the runs as Scott Jones only scored 6 before he was caught by Marsh for Parkinson’s third.

Henry Durrant offered some resistance with a score of 24 that included a big six but he was then bowled by Marsh.

Kyle Marsh then had Sean Hannon caught by Parkinson for a score of 13 and George Evans was caught by Tom Lewis off the bowling of Richard Cope.

Geraint Rees finished not out on 10 for Neyland as they limped to a total of 124-9 from their opening twenty overs.

Parkinson finished with excellent figures of 3-25, Kurtis Marsh with 2-10 and Kyle Marsh with 3-23 from his two overs.

Kilgetty then made a blistering start to their innings as they smashed their way to 73-0 off the first seven overs.

Their momentum was checked however as Hardy was caught by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Nick Koomen for a score of 39.

Toby Poole was out for a score of 1 to the bowling of Andrew Miller and Koomen then had Kurtis Marsh trapped leg before for a fine knock of 37.

Richard Cope was bowled by Miller for a duck as the run rate slipped. Liam Cullen scored 18 but he was then caught by George Evans off the bowling of Henry Durrant.

Geraint Rees also had Dafydd Bevan caught by George Evans and Patrick Hannon had bowled Kyle Marsh for a score of 6.

Rees then bowled Josh Gorman before Hannon had Jack Parkinson caught by George Evans.

Neyland’s brilliant performance in the field meant that Kilgetty’s lead was just 11 runs at the halfway stage.

Patrick Hannon (2-35), Geraint Rees (2-32), Nick Koomen (2-17) and Andrew Miller (2-11) all bowled well as they kept Kilgetty’s lead down.

Neyland were determined to get rid of that deficit as quickly as possible and although they lost Patrick Bellerby for a score of 11, caught by Poole off the bowling of Parkinson, and Ashley Sutton for a score of 1, brilliantly stumped by Poole off the bowling of Cope, Paul Murray and Nick Koomen set the All White on their way.

Murray top scored with 56 runs and he shared 55 runs with Nick Koomen who went on to score 47.

Koomen was then bowled by Toby Poole while Murray was caught by Gorman off the bowling of Kyle Marsh.

Henry Durrant then scored 17 before he was run out and Scott Jones scored nine before being bowled by Hardy.

Sean Hannon also fell to the bowling of Hardy as Kilgetty hit back as they themselves looked to keep Neyland’s lead down.

Neyland finished their second innings on 164-7 meaning Kilgetty would need 154 to win the final.

Kilgetty’s reply did not get off to the best of starts as Kurtis Marsh was caught by sub fielder Steve Murray off the bowling of Patrick Hannon for a duck.

Ross Hardy made a score of 15 but was then bowled by Andrew Miller who also had Liam Cullen stumped by Sean Hannon.

Toby Poole batted well for a score of 31 but he was again stumped by Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Dafydd Bevan also played well for a score of 29 but Geraint Rees forced him down the track leaving Hannon to claim a third stumping.

Kilgetty’s chase then faltered as no other batsman made it into double figures as Kyle Marsh was caught by Steve Murray off the bowling of Henry Durrant for a score of 1 and he then had Richard Cope superbly stumped by Hannon for a duck.

Rees picked up another wicket as he had Tom Lewis caught by Sean Hannon who then claimed a fifth stumping of the innings as he sent Josh Gorman back to the pavilion with a score of 4 to give Rees his third wicket.

Unfortunately for Kilgetty Ian Poole picked up an injury earlier in the day meaning he was unable to bat and their innings came to a close on 87-9.

That gave Neyland victory and they celebrated winning the Duggie Morris for the fifth time in six years.

Nick Koomen was awarded the Man of the Match trophy and winning captain Sean Hannon was presented with the Duggie Morris trophy.

 

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Kilgetty face Neyland in Duggie Morris Final

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KILGETTY and Neyland are set to face each other in the final of this year’s Duggie Morris tournament on Sunday (Jul 15).

The final will be played at Oatfield Park, home of Burton Cricket Club, and is set to start at 12pm.

Neyland have had a close affinity with the tournament in recent years, winning it four years in a row between 2013 and 2016.

Their 2017 run was only halted by defeat in the semi-finals to holders Whitland but they will be keen to get their hands back on the trophy.

Kilgetty have not been in the final of the tournament since 1997, the last time they picked up the trophy, having also won it the previous year.

Now in their first final for 21 years, they will certainly want to show that they are not just there to make up the numbers.

The two teams have also met in the final once before, way back in 1972, and on that occasion it was Kilgetty who came out on top.

Route to the final

Neyland made it through to the semi-finals as they beat Cresselly by five wickets thanks to an excellent century from Paul Murray.

Cresselly batted first and made a good total of 161-4 from their innings.

Although the home side took five wickets they were unable to stop Murray who finished not out on 100 to see Neyland through.

In the semis they met Haverfordwest and came out on top with a four wicket win. Town batted first but could only reach a total of 100-9.

Andrew Miller took four wickets for Neyland and he then scored 20 in their reply before being run out while Paul Murray scored 21.

Ashley Sutton then finished not out on 15 to see Neyland into the final.

Kilgetty began their route to the final with an excellent win over Hook in the first round after they smashed 227-4 from their 20 overs.

Hook were unable to match that total as they fell short on 116-8.

Kilgetty made it through to the last four as they beat Lawrenny by 18 runs and, batting first, they scored 125-7 with Kurtis Marsh top scoring on 66.

Lawrenny’s Harry Thomas took two wickets and Brad McDermott-Jenkins finished with figures of 2-16.

Thomas then scored 26 in Lawrenny’s reply but some excellent bowling restricted them well as they finished short of their target.

Marsh took three wickets for the loss of 18 runs while Toby Poole claimed two wickets for the home side.

They met holders Whitland in the semi-final and it was an excellent game. Whitland scored 181-3 in their innings only for Kilgetty to surpass that total.

They had scores of 46 from Kyle Marsh, 35 from Ross Hardy and 36 from Dafydd Bevan as they made it through to their first final since 1997.

Sunday’s final will be contested over two twenty over innings for each side and it will be important for both teams to hold an advantage at the halfway stage.

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