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Swans keep boyhood dreams alive

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By Jonathan Twigg

“Premier League games against the big teams are always very special, and tonight’s game will have added spice with the result being vitally important to both teams” said under fire Swansea Chairman Huw Jenkins OBE on Monday (Jan 22).

The game started in a stonewall tribute to local St Joseph’s player Mitchell Joseph who tragically died whilst playing from a cardiac arrest, along with footballing greats Cyril Regis and Jimmy Armfield, a World Cup winner in 1966.

The result, a 1-0 win for Swansea over Liverpool, achieved with 28 percent possession, a fifth of their opponent’s shots at goals and a third of the corners won. The only statistic that mattered was the score line. A story born from any boyhood comic, where the evil character could have been Captain Can, a German wearing the oppositions armband of leadership. ‘Sleepy G’ this game wasn’t as bottom of the table Swansea, six points from safety started with three central defender to defeat the ‘Reds’ for the first time since Spurs rumbled them at Wembley in September.

The start was cagey, Swansea lacking belief to be direct, compensating by fronting up in challenges but having no outlet amidst the footballing ‘capital of Wales, way down by the sea’.

Chances were created by both sides but restricted in their tenacity through technical discipline, Manager Carvalhal stated post match ‘when you come up against a F1 car you may struggle in a race. If you put that F1 car amongst some London traffic it is no longer a F1 car as it has to respond to the traffic around it’.

An analogy worthy of any comic book hero; maybe a new Tinkerman has risen from the Phoenix and all boys know what happened to the last Tinkerman to grace the Premier League.

Liverpool sloppiness four minutes before half time gave away a corner which they didn’t deal with and pin ball around the penalty spot saw the ball fall to centre back Alfie Mawson. He swung a right foot to bury the opening goal, his third of the season but at a cost with his central defensive partner Fernandez taking a bloody nose from his own players celebrations.

Liverpool’s indiscipline saw a yellow card for a clinical challenge by Robertson on Ayew and another for Matip, when he poleaxed Clucas as the red engine oil stuttered to disable the turbo boosters. Referee Neil Swarbrick signalled the half time interval which brought a crescendo of voices, the volume not heard at that level all season.

Liverpool’s tempo after the break was more warming as Swansea midfielder Fer was guilty of picking up the man in blacks cards, albeit as confetti after Swarbrick dropped them to the amusement of the ‘Jack army’.

The atmosphere was reminiscent of 1980s and you ‘could not help but fall back in love’ with the beautiful game; McNaughton made a last ditch tackle on Robertson recalling memories of February 1981, when 22,604 at the Vetch Field cheered the Mersey beat when current Club legends Leighton James and Alan Curtis netted in a 2-0 victory. The Liberty faithful, 20,886 were treated to the same intense feeling as the halcyon days, with the big Pole in the goal tipping a driven free kick from Salah over the bar on the hour mark.

It would be incorrect to state ‘only one set of fans were singing’ at this juncture but the powerful Fabianski was commanding in goal even at times heading his side in the right direction and reducing the Champions League last sixteen entrants to speculative long range shots.

Swansea put Carroll on for Dyer, as did Klopp, Lalanna for Chamberlin and Ings thrown on for Wijnaldum but the white wall ensured any cracks were quickly cemented over, with Van der Hoorn a beacon shining before Fabianski before Ayew, unbounded and uncompromised was broken, to be replaced by Bony.

To Max Boyce singing Hymns and Arias the enormity of Swansea lifting themselves to 20 points against a team who defeated the previously unbeaten league leaders Manchester City just a week ago glistened through. ‘Comon City’ was an eruption of volcanic proportions and certainly for those ‘Swansea till they die’ proponents seeing four minutes of added time read like a comic book finale.

Salah blasted over and Firmino, clear in front of goal felt the reverberations of the choir as his header rebounded off the upright. “We are in hospital” said Carvalhal, “in a serious condition, but no longer in Intensive Care.” One in the onion bag for my Harry and all Jacks, for when the chips are down it becomes ‘together stronger’. Alive and kicking, still bottom of the Premier League but just six points off a place in the top half.

A storyline only for the comic book? Maybe not as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp acknowledged, ‘the stadium was theirs tonight and the confidence grew from it’, which abodes well for the next four months on the rollercoaster.

Sport

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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Sport

Clarbeston Road v Hakin United: Senior Cup Final Preview

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THIS Saturday (Apr 21), sees Hakin United and Clarbeston Road battle it out for the biggest prize in Pembrokeshire Football as they take to the field for the Senior Cup Final.

The game will be played at the Bridge Meadow Stadium in Haverfordwest and another big crowd is expected.

Clarbeston Road were beaten in last year’s final by Merlins Bridge but having beaten them in the semi-final, the Road will be eager to pick up the trophy on Saturday.

For Hakin, it is a first final since 2016 when they were beaten by Goodwick United and they will also be keen to regain the trophy they last won in 2012.

The two side met in the league back in October, 2017, and on that occasion it was Hakin United who came out on top with a 2-1 victory at the Obs.

The Vikings come into this game top of Division 1 following a 5-2 win over Pennar Robins on Saturday (Apr 14) which saw danger man Nicky Woodrow scoring a hat trick.

Clarbeston Road eased to victory as they beat Angle 13-1 with league top scorer Jason Griffiths scoring seven of their goals.

Those seven goals put Jason way out in front with 34 goals in the league so far this season and he will be keen to get on the score sheet once again.

Path to the final

Clarbeston Road began their route to the final with a 6-1 win at home to St Clears back in September with Griffiths scoring four of the goals in that game.

That was followed by victory over Fishguard Sports in the second round thanks to goals from Mathew Davies and Josh Wood.

In the third round, Clarbeston Road overcame a determined Hundleton side with Griffiths scoring a hat trick, the third of which came in injury time.

That put them in to the semi-finals where they played Merlins Bridge in a repeat of the 2017 final.

The Bridge won that game 2-1 but on this occasion it was Clarby who went through by the same scoreline with goals coming from Tom Ruebens and Ieuan Cooke.

Hakin United began their Senior Cup campaign with a 4-1 win away to Camrose which saw Nicky Woodrow score a hat trick.

In the second round, the Vikings made it through with a 5-1 over Narberth as Justin Harding scored twice.

The quarter final saw them take on Neyland and after a tense battle, they came out on top with a 2-0 win.

That set up a semi-final with Carew but an excellent first half saw them lead 3-0 courtesy of goals from Justin Harding and Nicky Woodrow.

Carew hit back but Woodrow scored a second to send Hakin through to the final with a 4-2 win.

What the teams say?

Hakin United manager Kristian Bennet told the Herald: “The boys trained on Monday and they are ready for the game and excited for it.

“For a few of the boys it is their first Senior Cup Final and we also have a few boys that have done it before.

“We will give Clarbeston Road all the respect, they reached the final last year and we only beat them by one goal in the league in October so we are expecting another tough game.

“We will be approaching the game like a normal game as we’ll meet at the club as usual on the day before heading up to the Bridge Meadow.”

Clarbeston Road’s Matthew Ellis said: “All at the club are looking forward to the game Saturday and are hoping that we can go one step further this season and lift the cup.

“We have no injury concerns and should all be fresh after a free midweek schedule.

“Our plans for the day are the same as last year, breakfast in the Cross and a bus to the ground.

“The bus is then collecting supporters from around Clarbeston Road, the support last year was outstanding. Hopefully the weather will be as good as it was last season.

“We will approach the game as we always do and give 100%”.

Club captain Jason Griffiths added: “I think as a team we should all be proud of reaching the last two finals. Last season we were huge underdogs being in the second division and only having two players with senior cup final experience but this season we are very much equals and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“We are aware of how good a side Hakin are but having already played them in the league we can see where we can beat them.

“Everyone in the squad is very much looking forward to it and will all have huge roles to play on the day and hopefully get a memorable victory!”

Good luck to both sides and may the best team win!

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