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Swans have the scent for survival

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By Jonathan Twigg

SATURDAY (Feb 10) saw the Liberty Stadium in Swansea witness a ‘turf war’, won by the commemorative, Chinese New Year shirt wearing home side 1-0.

Visitors Burnley continued their miserable winless run which started on December 12, whilst Carlos Carvalhal’s side are now nine games unbeaten, lifting themselves clear of the relegation zone.

“You don’t have to see it; you smell it” can be attributed to an egocentric player who patrolled the left wing for both clubs four decades, Leighton James.

Saturday’s contest was fractious with neither side gaining ascendency, requiring the input of a mercurial talent like James, winner of 54 Welsh caps after his international in October 1971 against Czechoslovakia in Prague.

How former Swan, Jack Cork would have liked a smudging of the influence imposed by James in scoring 124 goals from 645 games to rub off on him, whilst the home faithful welcomed Andre Ayew to the bench, following his £16 million return from West Ham.

Brother Jordan was leading the line and loan signing Andy King also warming the splinters because the Premier Leagues newest ‘Tinkerman’ has taken his side from the depths of the Ocean to now have their heads above water.

This Portuguese man of war is wary of the sharks around him but can see the coastline of the promised land and knows how to get there, with James’ analogy from bygone years, ringing true.

James made his league debut for the Turf Moor outfit in November 1970 against Nottingham Forest, returning twice to the North West in a career which saw him transfer for a mammoth £310,000 to Derby in 1975.

He left Burnley for a second time in 1978 when they were relegated to the third division and signed for Swansea City helping them from the third division to the first division in the heady days of the John Toshack era. He had spells with Sunderland, Bury and Newport County before he retired in 1989 when at Burnley, to explore more avenues.

James, in his punditry role would have vilified Olsson for diving which brought a yellow card before half time, alongside Ayew, Clucas and Ki Sung Yeung’s efforts to hit the target.

They needed to watch the matchday mascot in the half time break as Neyland Pirate Ethan Blockwell gave goalkeeper ‘Cyril the Swan’ a lesson in finishing.

The East stand corner were drumming the beat as everything remained black and white; Johann Gudmundsson forcing a save from Lucas Fabianski, before Andre Ayew made his entrance to replace Olsson after Jeff Hendrick snagged a yellow card for stopping brother Jordan’s charge.

The side needed new life; brothers in arms, possibly ‘Kolo or Yaya’ were joined by Tammy Abraham, the Tinkerman’s batteries now recharged with a ‘Triple A’ strike force taking the game to Burnley.

Referee Marriner received queries over his parentage as Pope made a wonder save to deny Abraham, Jordan Ayew and Kyle Naughton smashed shots goalward, before the breakthrough came with six minutes remaining.

Ki hammered home the winner from the edge of the box after Naughton and Jordan Ayew’s silky build up play invoked the loudest rendition of ‘Land of my Fathers’ west of Twickenham.

Ethan Blockwell: The Neyland Pirate was a match day mascot as Swansea beat Burnley 1-0

Sean Dyche’s side were reduced to humping long balls which drew no change from Alfie Mawson and skipper Frederico Fernandez and when the new King ‘of Wales’ came across the drawbridge for his debut to replace ‘Prince Jordan’, a crescendo of choral voices greeted the signal of four additional minutes without fear.

James tried his hand at management in the League of Wales with Llanelli, taking in spells also at Garden Village and Haverfordwest but he didn’t enjoy the success Carvalhal has kindled way down by the sea.

An echo from the beach portrays the words of Martha and the Muffins from 1979, James surely remembering the wish for the sun not to go down. He didn’t need to see the ball; he could smell it and Carvalhal has the scent of survival from the sea as he approaches a return to his previous Club Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday (Feb 17).

The Swans travel to Hillsborough in search of a place in the FA Cup quarter final for the first time since 1964, where they eventually lost to Preston North End 2-1 in the semi-final at Villa Park, with the backing of the Jack Army who are enjoying the fruits of the BBQ served by Carvalhal.

Sport

Millers hold their nerve to send Neyland through

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HARRISON ALLEN Bowl Champions Neyland made it through to the quarter finals of the competition after they beat Haverfordwest with only two balls to spare on Thursday night (May 24).

Haverfordwest batted first but they were restricted to a total of 100-8 on an overcast evening.

Karl Rhead and Lee Summons both scored 1 before they departed early; Rhead caught by Andrew Miller off the bowling of Nathan Banner and Summons stumped by Sean Hannon off the bowling of brother Patrick.

That left Town on 9-2 but Simon Holliday and Danny Potter shared 27 runs for the third wicket partnership.

Holliday made 14 before he was superbly run out by Patrick Hannon and soon after Ben Field departed when he was caught by Gregg Miller off Patrick’s bowling.

Potter had made a score of 31 with four fours and a six but he was also run out, this time by Ashley Sutton, and Town had slipped to 56-5.

Jake Merry was then caught by Banner off the bowling of Henry Durrant for a score of 5 while Adam James smashed a six in his score of 11 before he was caught by Durrant off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Archie Thomas did likewise in his score of 11 from eight balls but he was then bowled by Durrant.

That saw Town fall to 80-8 but Kieran O’Connor and Huw Scriven shared 20 runs to take Town to their total.

O’Connor finished unbeaten on 9 while Scriven smashed a six off the last ball to finish not out on 11 and take Town to three figures.

Neyland lost Paul Murray early in their reply when he was caught by Merry off the bowling of Adam James for a score of 6.

Nick Koomen and Ashley Sutton then shared a partnership of 20 before Sutton was bowled by James.

Koomen and Banner then shared 19 runs but that partnership came to an end when Banner was stumped by Scriven off the bowling of O’Connor for a score of 8.

Soon after Koomen, who had hit three fours and a six in a knock of 31, fell in the same manner as Banner and Neyland were left on 60-4.

Henry Durrant and Patrick Bellerby then swung the game back in Neyland’s favour with a good partnership of 25.

That came to an end when Bellerby was caught by Rhead off the bowling of Holliday for a score of 21 from 12 balls which included a four and two sixes.

Scriven then picked up his third stumping as he removed Durrant for a score of 11 to the bowling of Holliday.

That was the end of the wickets however as Gregg and Andrew Miller saw Neyland home, finishing not out on 6 and 7 respectively, with only two balls to spare.

The draw for the quarter finals will be made on Wednesday, May 30, at the next meeting of the County Cricket Club.

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Grandstand finish sees Croft take Silver

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A GRANDSTAND finish by Cardigan boxer Ioan Croft came just too late to capture the gold medal at the Three Nations tournament at Motherwell’s huge Ravenscraig Sports Centre at the weekend.

The 16-year-old from Crymych had been bidding to secure a second Three Nations crown to emulate his success of 2015.

And the fact that Croft beat Scotsman Nicholas Devlin in the semi-finals – the opponent he had defeated en route to Three Nations glory three years previously – appeared to be a good omen.

However, pitted against England’s Joe Tyres in the final, southpaw Croft appeared to pay the price for an over-cautious start.

With the English boy seemingly taking the first round, Croft started getting into his stride in the second.

The Welsh teenager appeared to gain the upper hand in the third and final session, catching Tyres with a variety of good clean shots.

Yet it was not quite enough to make up for his slow start and a crestfallen Croft dropped a 4-1 split decision.

“It was very disappointing,” the boxer’s dad, Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft, said afterwards. “I thought he’d just done enough to win.”

Although Croft had struggled to make the 56kg limit, his father refused to cite that as an excuse. “I’m not sure weight is all to blame,” he said.

“Ioan’s been finishing strong at the end of every round and his third round is always his best.

“He just takes a little while to get the measure of his opponent, which isn’t such a bad thing, although on this occasion it probably cost him the fight.

“Joe has had something like 75 bouts, only lost 12, and was 13 months older. Ioan’s had 62 and lost 10 so it was a good match.”

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Young Otters secure Griffiths Cup win

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NARBERTH were victorious in the Griffiths Cup on Tuesday night (May 22), as they beat Crymych 26-24 in a thrilling game that neither side deserved to lose.

The game was played at Neyland’s Athletic Ground and a good crowd was in attendance to watch rugby’s future stars.

The young Otters took the lead early on in the first half as Dylan Walsh went over for the opening try of the game and Lewis Hough’s conversion was successful.

Crymych then levelled matters as Rhodri George went over for the try before Harri Williams added the extra two points.

Kieran Allen then put Narberth back ahead with another try but the conversion was missed and the Otters held a 12-7 lead.

Shortly before half time, Crymych took the lead for the first time as Dafydd Griffiths went over for the try and Harri Williams added the extras.

It meant Crymych held a 14-12 lead at the break but the game was still there for the taking.

In the second half, Narberth re-took the lead as Kieran Allen scored his second try of the game and Llew Jones added the conversion.

Crymych came back to within two points of their opponents as Harri Williams landed a penalty to make it 19-17.

The Otters then extended their lead as they came forward and the ball was offloaded for Griff Evans who dived in under the posts for an excellent try. Llew Jones then added the conversion to make it 26-17 to the Otters.

Crymych responded well and put pressure on the Otters. That pressure eventually told as they worked the ball out to the right for Illan Phillips who burst through the tackles to touch the ball down. Harri Williams added the extras from just inside the half to make it 26-24.

It was Narberth who finished strongly but a penalty went wide and they then came close to scoring a try which would have sealed the game but a knock on 5 metres out halted their attack.

Crymych looked for a late score but Narberth kept them out well and when they turned the ball over with the eighty minutes up, they kicked the ball out to spark wild celebrations amongst the players and coaches.

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