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No respite for Swans in the storm

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By Jonathan Twigg

TOTTENHAM Hotspur arrived in South Wales to take on Swansea at a windswept Liberty Stadium on Tuesday (Jan 2) in a changed kit of navy blue and included former Swansea striker Fernando Llorente for his first start in Premier League and full back Ben Davies.

Swansea set up with five across the back, with three centre backs to nullify the quality of Spurs despite the absence through a heavy cold of new Premier League record goal scorer Harry Kane.

Carlos Carvahal’s first home game after the last gasp victory over Watford saw him willing to concede possession and territory looking to play off the break with Jordan Ayew and Nathan Dyer.

The game at Wembley in September saw the sides draw 0-0 but the writing was on the wall as early as the ninth minute as the London side settled better in the dire conditions.

Full back Martin Olsson was late on a tackle on Tripper, receiving a yellow card allowing Eriksen to ping in a free kick which was easily dealt with by Alfie Mawson. This was followed by another free kick two minutes later after a foul by Carroll, which saw Eriksen find Llorenete’s head.

The former Swan didn’t celebrate his goal, probably showing respect for his former employers or due to him knowing he was in an offside position.

Four minutes later Dyer combined with Rangel as he did with Clucas but the first home opportunity came courtesy of an off the ball foul from Spurs’ Sanchez on the edge of the box, where the resultant yellow card saw his namesake clip the kick over the bar.

The heavy conditions took some of the fizz out of the Spurs game as the surface water built up and the sticky conditions were helping the home side as Dyer nearly got a head on a Rangel cross.

This certainly wasn’t a thriller, a song which marked the year, 1982 the last time Tottenham lost to Swansea with paceman Dyer the go to outlet to manufacture a half chances for Olsson who shot wide with five minutes of the half remaining.

With over 75% possession the visitors had chances, notably a free kick put pressure on the defence and Llorente put the effort just over the cross bar. For Swansea Sanches worked himself round the back of the Spurs defence to set up a corner which drew a save from Lloris from a Mawson header two minutes from half time.

Both sides returned with fresh kits for the second half and the Swans started brightly with Dyer latching onto a ball over the top without making contact.

Swansea were crisper in the tackle, but lost captain Rangel five minutes into the half, replaced by Saturday’s goal scoring hero Narsingh as Carvalhal used the injury to tinker with the line-up and tactics. Olsson drew a free kick from Sanchez when perhaps referee Rob Madley considered a second yellow card, with the lack of consistency in decision making frustrating supporters.

Sanchez was withdrawn by Spurs supremo Pochettino after the reprieve with Wanyama returning to action after a four month absence as Ali drew free kicks much to the derision of home crowd.

Fabianski commanded his goal with guile, Lamela picked up a yellow card just after the hour mark and the resultant free kick saw Narsingh go through but Lloris saved well at his near post.

Kane made an appearance and Ali missed a golden opportunity as did Ayew at the other end when he rounded Lloris but saw the ball cleared by Neath born Davies and the corner allowed Van der Hoorn to head against the post.

McBurnie came on for Dyer as Carvalhal rolled the dice of luck in the hope to reward the endeavour shown in the second half where the attacking intent had restricted the forward play of the Spurs full backs.

Sissoko was the final replacement for Lamela, with the belief of the 20,614 present willing an equaliser, although striker Son should have made it 2-0.

Carvalhal sent on Routledge for the last twelve minutes for Carroll with Van der Hoorn snaffling a yellow card for a late tackle on Ali as Son could feel aggrieved not to earn his side a penalty

Spurs were creating openings, Son being unable to control a through ball with Swansea now running with four offensive players.

Eric Dyer had a strike at the far post as the game moved at pace and Ayew and Olsson had half chances for the side rooted to the base of the Premier League.

Narsingh got beyond Davies who recovered well as both sides had concern over the decision making from the officials, vociferously chanted from the stands where fair paying punters circumvented the need to qualify as a referee to make decisions!

Ali finished the game at 2-0 when his first shot rifled back off Fabianski allowing him to deflect it in at the second attempt after Kane picked him out with a scintillating cross field ball.

Swansea had a chance from an injury time corner but Mawson’s header was easily accounted for by Lloris and the game ended with Spurs easing into fifth place in the League, remaining unbeaten over Christmas before playing West Ham tomorrow night (Jan 4).

Swansea travel to Championship leaders Wolves on Saturday in the FA Cup before girding their loins for a trip to the North East the week after, with Liverpool and Arsenal due at the Liberty Stadium before the end of the month.

The short term is looking difficult for them but there is hope for the late winter and early spring fixtures if they can keep in touch with the sides around them.

Perhaps acquiring some transfer window signings could help bring some much needed respite to the storm raging across the community.

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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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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