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Swans still sweet on Premier League survival

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By Jonathan Twigg

SWANSEA’s clamber through the trials and tribulations of the Premier League can be compared to that of a child running amok in a sweet shop, so many tantalising favourites to devour, with the occasional reminder that not all sweets are sweet.

A retro walk down the Bridge Meadow Lane would have taken a child past the shop run by Connie Clarke, renowned for her welcome on the bell clanging. Supporters of Haverfordwest County and their opponents on match day, welcomed with few words but with the knowledge her confectionary delights never failed to deliver.

Following Saturday’s (Apr 14) 1-1 draw with Everton, who arrived without former Swans stars Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson in their line-up, supporters left knowing the sweet taste of success held by the Premier League is still within their grasp.

With two of the bottom three to visit the Liberty in the final week of the season this point is one gained in search of extending their Premier League status to an eighth season, although manager Carlos Carvalhal nearly led his side to five consecutive home wins, something no other manager has done since the heady days of John Toshack in 1981.

Swansea welcomed Jordan Ayew back from a three game suspension to partner elder brother Andre as Bolton based referee Lee Mason began the game in front of 20,933, the returning brother setting the tone alongside Andy King at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium.

Carvalhal has worked some magic since his arrival on the cusp of Christmas, tactically leaving opposite number former England supremo Sam Allerdyce to venture to the touchline with his pocket ball side kick Sammy Lee to stem the tide; the blues were overrun in midfield, Jordan Ayew having a wonderful chance cleared off the line as was captain Frederico Fernadez header from the resultant corner, before Andre’s sight of goal was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Alfie Mawson has grown to be imperial at the back for the Swans, attracting the interest of Manchester United, one of those mints that the longer you savour, the better it lingers. Luciano Narsingh however can be likened more to a quickly dissolving peppermint cream, releasing the taste with speed, rousing the Jack Army with an immediate hit, succulent whilst it lasts, inspiring the Swans to drive forward.

Former England captain Wayne Rooney had one of those games, like an aniseed ball, many unable to relish his taste as he left his mark, literally with some raking tackles; his class, undoubted, when it finally came to the fore.

An opening goal came with the aid of goal line technology, just before half time, Lucas Fabianski brilliantly making a double save from Bolasie, before a ricochet off Kyle Naughton and a half time lead, Fabianski thankfully however saving from Cenk Tosun a minute later.

Jordan became the first recipient of a yellow card in the second half, substitute Nathan Dyer creating a stir as the game went up by a level with a sugar surge, the vocal chords tingled with honey from a locket, in the form of striker Tammy Abraham’s arrival.

Full backs McNaughton and Martin Olsson created chances, Tom Carroll serving buckets of sweet balls, to no avail; Dyer driving forward over from twenty yards, Abraham and the Ayews creating half chances, Mawson’s header cleared off the line before the full quarter was served, Jordan levelling the game with a right foot half volley.

The final fifteen minutes rocked the stadium once more, after dinner mints were all Swansea’s, although Seamus Coleman thundered a shot against the woodwork, Abraham missed a gilt edged opportunity at the other end, whilst a tall and well positioned defensive wall directed Rooney’s set piece opportunity over the bar.

Extra strong mints were needed, alas unavailable as the toffees held firm, not fudging their lines with Beni Baningime taking a yellow card for the team, the games conclusion seeing a share of the spoils.

Carvalhal’s magic stars will have to be at their best to out fox and unwrap three points on Sunday (Apr 22) when opponents Manchester City will have champagne liquor chocolates on hand, having been crowned Premier League champions.

Swansea then have the opportunity to welcome Chelsea to ‘fortress’ Liberty the week after; wispa it quietly, as many have their eyes on the final weeks’ trio of games, starting with a trip to the South Coast in search of the bounty available at Dean Park, Bournemouth, before a starburst performance at home to Southampton on the Tuesday and Stoke City for a final day picnic. There can be no wine gums on show, just the everlasting gobstopper which is Premier League football.

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Lamphey pull out of league

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LAMPHEY Football Club has announced that they have withdrawn their team from the Pembrokeshire Football League.

The Club has cited a lack of players as a reason for their withdrawal but they are now the third team to have done so in a short space of time.

Last season West Dragons and Angle took themselves out of the league for similar reasons.

It means their last match was an 11-1 defeat to Hakin United in the Senior Cup on Saturday (Nov 10) and their game with Goodwick this weekend has now been cancelled.

The Pembrokeshire Football League confirmed the news on their Facebook page saying: “Just to confirm that this morning the League received the sad news from Lamphey that they are withdrawing from the Pembrokeshire League with immediate effect.

“They are citing lack of players as the reasoning for their withdrawal. The League Tables will be amended accordingly.”

Lamphey had not won in their eight games played but had managed three draws. Those points will now be taken away and it is likely that only one team will be relegated from the first division.

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Veteran Vikings on top

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HAKIN United are top of the Welsh Veterans League following a 6-0 victory over Nelson Cavaliers at the Observatory last Sunday (Nov 11).

The result puts the Vikings one point ahead of current Champions Trefelin BGC, with the Port Talbot outfit having a game in hand.

However, last Sunday, despite the final score, It was Nelson that were missing the early chances with Hakin goalkeeper Jason Morgan saving a one on one and a penalty before Hakin took the lead midway through the first half.

Stuart MacDonald broke down the left and set up Matthew Price for a tap in to make it 1-0.

Minutes later, Hakin doubled their lead as Michael McCarthy headed home a MacDonald corner.

Just before half time, McCarthy put Price in the clear and the striker hammered a shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.

Early in the second half, Nelson missed another penalty before Price set up McCarthy to score from close range.

Ali Davies put Leigh Walters through to lift the ball over the keeper for number five and the same two players combined again for Walters to score his second, beating the keeper at his post.

Hakin next play in the Welsh Veterans Cup Preliminary Round away to Pencoed Athletic on Sunday (Nov 25).

Hakin United: Jason Morgan, Gerard Gray, Nigel Delaney, Richard Bland, Adam Collins, Ali Davies, Shaun Mills, Richard Nash, Michael McCarthy, Leigh Waters, Leighton Edwards. Subs: Nigel Armstrong, Matthew Price, Stuart MacDonald, Jamie Phillips, Gary Dawes.

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Blues too good for Neyland

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HAVERFORDWEST closed the gap to leaders Neyland as they condemned them to a second defeat in as many games on Saturday (Nov 10).

The Blues made a good start and it was Craig Barnett who put them into the lead with a try which he then converted. Barnett then added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Haverfordwest continued to put the pressure on and Barnett extended their lead with a penalty.

Barnett then added two further penalties before half time to give his side a 16-0 lead at the break.

Both sides had chances to score at the start of the second half but errors meant the score stayed the same.

Patrick Bellerby came close to scoring for the All Blacks but Haverfordwest defended well to keep him out.

At the other end a Neyland clearance kick was blocked and kicked on with Barnett giving chase but he was beaten to the ball by Bellerby and Neyland were able to clear.

The visitors then went up the other end and came close to scoring but they gave the ball away. The referee was not happy with the scrums and after three attempts gave a penalty to Neyland from which Luke Griffiths-Dawes dived over. George Evans sent the resulting penalty wide.

Any thoughts Neyland had of making a comeback were quickly dashed as Jamie Zambas increased the home side’s lead with a converted try.

Neyland did pull another try back late on through Craig Power and Evans converted but it wasn’t enough as the Blues saw the game out.

The All Blacks are still top of the table but Haverfordwest are now just a point behind. Milford lie in third, two points behind with two games in hand on their rivals.

The teams are next in action on Saturday, November 24, when leaders Neyland travel to St Davids and Haverfordwest are also away to Llanybydder.

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