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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

Vikings smash seven past Clarby to lift Senior Cup

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HAKIN United lifted the Senior Cup for the first time since 2012 as they put in an excellent second half performance to thump Clarbeston Road 7-1 on Saturday (Apr 21).

The Vikings had raced into a two goal lead but Clarbeston Road’s Tom Reubens pulled a goal back as the game was evenly poised at 2-1 at half time.

However Hakin smashed in a further five goals in the second half to put the result beyond doubt.

Justin Harding: Scored and set up a goal for Hakin

The game was only three minutes old when Hakin’s Leigh Marchant sent a cross into the box which Clarby keeper Lee Scott flapped at before his defenders cleared the danger.

The first goal came on eight minutes and it was a goal worthy of gracing any final stage. Nicky Woodrow flicked the ball up and volleyed the ball into the back of the net, leaving the keeper with no chance.

Adam John then saw a shot blocked before Ben Fawcett made his way through a couple of defenders before firing into the net to double Hakin’s lead.

John was then sent through on goal and he beat the keeper to the ball but Clarby’s defenders got back to snuff out the danger.

With 22 minutes gone, Clarbeston Road got themselves back in the game as Jason Griffiths crossed the ball into the middle for Tom Reubens who squeezed the ball under Adrian Devonald and into the net.

Leigh Marchant then saw a cross hit the bar as the action switched back and forth before Clarby won a series of corners but were unable to find the net.

On the stroke of half time, Justin Harding crossed into the box for Wilson but his shot was saved.

It remained 2-1 at half time and both sides were still very much in with a chance of winning the Cup.

Clarbeston Road came close to equalising three minutes into the second half as Matthew Davies beat the keeper to the ball but he lost sight of the ball as it bounced in the air and Hakin were able to clear the danger.

Challenge: Players of both sides go for the ball

Ten minutes later, Hakin added a third goal as Harding sent a free kick into the box and Nicky Woodrow got a touch on it to divert it into the net.

With just over an hour gone, Ryan Wilson crossed into the box for Ben Fawcett and his header went in despite Scott getting a touch to it.

Four minutes later the game was as good as over as Harding fired the ball into the top corner with Scott again getting a touch on it.

Hakin continued to attack and with ten minutes to go they made it six as Woodrow side-volleyed in his third goal to complete his hat trick.

John then sent a free kick into the box but Daniel Armstrong’s header was well tipped over the bar by Scott.

However, just moments later it was seven as the ball fell to Jack Wilson on the edge of the box and he drilled it low into the bottom left corner of the net.

That was the end of the scoring and it left referee James Olyott, who had an excellent game in the middle, to blow the whistle for full time.

It sparked wild celebrations amongst the Hakin players and supporters as they sealed a first Senior Cup win since 2012.

Hakin’s Ben Fawcett was named man of the match and Kristian Bennett picked up the trophy for the first time as a manager.

Winning manager: Kristian Bennett

Speaking after the match, Kristian said: “I am just overwhelmed, I couldn’t have asked for a better performance in the final. Give Clarby some credit they battled back and it was anybody’s game but in the second half the boys smashed some good goals in.

“I did rip into them at half time, just because we gave the goal away and let them back in the game when we were well on top, that’s all it takes and Clarby Road are a good side.

“It’s brilliant, first Senior Cup as a manager, total new feeling but absolutely awesome.”

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Pembroke replace Cardiff in Bowl Final

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PEMBROKE will take part in the final of the WRU Bowl after all after semi-final opponents Cardiff University were found to have breached the competition’s eligibility rules.

The National Bowl Final will take place on Sunday, April 29, at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Pembroke were beaten by Cardiff in the semi-final but lodged an appeal following the game.

Pembroke, whose Youth team will compete in today’s National Youth Plate Final v Tondu (Principality Stadium, 1.15pm) will now face Porthcawl in next week’s National Bowl Final in the first of the National Finals Day encounters (1pm), Nant Conwy play Brynmawr in the National Plate Final (3.15pm) and Merthyr play Newport in the National Cup Final (5.35pm).

All three finals will be broadcast by S4C and tickets for National Finals Day are available on www.wru.wales/tickets

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Sport

Carew earn deserved win

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CAREW earned a deserved 3-1 victory on Friday night (Apr 20) as they beat Neyland thanks to goals from Jordan Richards, Sam Christopher and Alex Bayley.

It also means that the Rooks are still very much in with a chance of finishing third in the league as they, Merlins Bridge and Clarbeston Road are all locked on 39 points.

Jordan Richards gave the hosts the lead in the first half and it could have been much more for the home side if they had taken some of their chances.

Instead it remained 1-0 at half time and Neyland were still in with a chance of getting something out of the game.

Alex Bayley came close to scoring for the Rooks after he beat a tackle to run into the box before cutting side but his effort was saved by the Neyland keeper.

Neyland then brought themselves level as Jake Booth slid the ball across the box and Geraint Rees was on hand to tap the ball in.

Jordan Richards then did well to keep hold of the ball on the by-line before passing to Sam Christopher who fired past the keeper.

Bayley was causing problems for the Neyland defenders and he brushed past one of them before firing low into the bottom corner of the net to make it 3-1.

Neyland looked to get back into the game late on but Carew held on for the three points.

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