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No Saintly intervention for the Swans

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By Jonathan Twigg

KEEPERS of the faith or a question when football rivalry becomes a ‘Holy War’ where your life depends on it.

Kevin Johns MBE, a pillar of Swansea City, spoke of martyrdom before defeat by Southampton, on Tuesday (May 8). Saint Mary, a team from the Church Young Men’s Association of 1885 born the banks of the ‘Itchen’ currently managed by ‘Welshmen’ Mark Hughes. A eulogy which encapsulates Peter Rodrigues, 1976 cup winning captain and the towering Paul Jones in goal; best of all from the pearly gates, none other than Gareth Bale.

Many thought godly intervention occurred with the appointment of Carlos Carvalhal prior to Christmas, divine intervention immediate, but the current situation, no goals and no points stretching back a month.

Wales and football have always had a heavenly ring when it comes to looking for signs but compare Scotland, Rangers vs Celtic for a view on how religion and sport cannot be separated. After Tuesday evening, a hope for a shared appreciation with Cardiff City in the Premier League once more, now hangs by a thread.

There was no cross carrying to the altar on this occasion, 20,000 white flag bearing emblems whipping the pilgrims to a frenzy. Andrew and Jordan Ayew the early disciples, Ki Sung-Yueng strong like St Barnabas, allowing Andy King having space to go for goal.

Luigi Scrosoppi (1804-84) the patron saint of footballers extended his care to all players but maybe, just maybe he had an inkling of companionship with George not David for the night. He was a battler against the strong anti-clerical feeling in Italy to bring hope and comfort to the poor; boy did Luigi, the son of a jeweller know when to kick sand.

The business of global football is humungous, still growing, the Premier League of course the place to be. Thursday, June 14, the start of the 2018 World Cup wouldn’t be able to match the energy of the Liberty Stadium, viral electricity in the form of a ‘berating Sparky’.

Kevin Johns’ reverence a catalyst for a chapel just off the players tunnel, encapsulating the imagery of ‘Camp Nou’? Peering back a replica of the Virgin of Montserrat, Catalonia’s most famous religious icon and its patron saint, with Baby Jesus on her lap exchange for St David, proudly inhaling a full choral rendition of ‘Land of my Fathers’. The Swans held sway, thirty minutes of football to their advantage, but no goal, Fabianski, the ‘big pole in the goal’ a saviour from Charlie Austin; twice.

One part of the epiphany, patron saint of the lottery, ‘Pantaleon’ although the Swansea players inspired by Saint Sebastian, extremely fit and able to withstand long physical endurance. Praying didn’t win the crunch game, when it mattered.

the ‘Jack Army’ a congregation of little ill repute registering the pressure, heading every ball, drumming pace and trickery. Sam Clucas saw his header slide across the face of the Alex McCarthy’s goal, the throng now not committed to the Sunday service Kevin asked of in his prayer.

The second half tension, flaring tempers and Jordan Ayew off like the clappers in tune with the stand, Austin chance after chance, enter Tammy Abraham, a tactical change replacing wing back Martin Olsson, Kyle McNaughton flying as Tammy called the tune, Jan Bednarek flattened by his own goal keeper, left to take a seat on the pews, Abraham cranked up the crescendo before substitute Manolo Gabbiadini broke the deadlock and the spirit.

Narsingh came on for McNaughton in the final quarter, Tom Carroll for King, Ki wasteful with Michael Oliver awarding six minutes of extra time, Abraham close before the emotion drained away.

The singing voices now clearly ‘the saints come marching in’ reminding us of St. Jude Thaddeus, cousin of Jesus and one of his Twelve Apostles, the patron saint of hopeless, desperate situations and lost, impossible, or forgotten causes. Read, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Kevin Johns, a Swan through and through and hope reigns eternal, perhaps with some ‘Hail Mary’s’ church bells will continue to ring loudly across West Wales.

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Haverfordwest face Whitland in Alec Colley Final

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HAVERFORDWEST will play Whitland in the Final of the Alec Colley Cup after both sides won their respective semi-finals this week.

On Tuesday (Jul 17), Whitland took on Carew in Johnston and after winning the toss they invited Carew to bat.

They lost Luke Hicks early on when he was bowled by Iestyn Scourfield but Scott Richard and Brian Hall shared 44 runs for the second wicket.

Richards made 16 before he was bowled by Wayne Howells.

Hall then shared another good stand of 53 with James Hinchcliffe as they helped Carew past 100 runs.

Hall hit eight fours in a knock of 54 from 42 balls but he was then caught by Conor Bowen off the bowling of Jack Bowen.

That left Carew on 106-3 and seemingly on course for a big total. Hinchcliffe scored 29 but he was then bowled by Jack Bowen.

Rob Hicks added 14 before being bowled by Scourfield and Dai Rees was then run out by Jack Bowen.

Jacob Knox and Morgan Grieve finished not out on scores of 3 and 6 respectively as Carew posted 147-6.

Openers Wayne Howells and Jack Bowen then got Whitland off to an excellent start to their reply as they shared 51 runs for the first wicket.

Howells hit four fours in a knock of 21 but the partnership was brought to an end when he was bowled by Rob Scourfield.

Bowen then shared another 44 runs with Iestyn Scourfield who only scored 14 before he was caught by Scott Richards off the bowling of Knox.

Ed John scored 12 as he shared another 30 runs with Bowen but John was caught and bowled by Iori Hicks.

Bowen smashed four fours and five sixes in his knock of 76 from 48 balls but he then hit the ball to James Hinchcliffe, giving Knox hi second wicket.

Adam Davies was then run out by Carl Thomas but scores of 5 not out from Martin Thomas and 12 not out from Gethin Scourfield saw Whitland into the final.

On Thursday (Jul 19), Haverfordwest took on Cresselly in Pembroke Dock.

Cresselly batted first but scored 131-9 as Scott Arthur played well despite wickets falling around him.

Chris Phillips bowled well for Town before Nitin Mathias and Dai Davies saw them into the final with some good batting.

The final will be played at Pembroke on Sunday, August 12.

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Town back on top as Neyland beat Cresselly

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THE top three in Division 1 are now separated by just four points following Saturday’s (Jul 14) results.

Haverfordwest moved back to the top of the table with a ten wicket win at home to Johnston while Neyland beat Cresselly to bring themselves back into the title race.

Johnston batted first and had it not been for a score of 65 from Hafiz Farooq, their score could have been a lot less than the 148 they posted.

Simon Holliday took four wickets for Town who then had Dai Davies and Ben Field finish unbeaten as they comfortably secured the win.

Cresselly batted first against Neyland but they were restricted to 170-9 with Simon Cole top scoring on 77.

There were three wickets for Henry Durrant who later finished not out on 20 see Neyland to victory. Andrew Miller scored 37 and Paul Murray scored 29 earlier in Neyland’s run chase.

It is the second time this season that Cresselly have been top going into the weekend’s fixtures only to find themselves knocked off top spot following a defeat.

Elsewhere, there were three centuries in the game between Llangwm and Kilgetty in a thrilling encounter at Pill Parks.

Matthew Kiff scored 105 for Llangwm in their total of 297-5 but it wasn’t enough as Ross Hardy scored 106 and Kurtis Marsh finished unbeaten on 113 to see Kilgetty to victory.

Whitland remain in fourth place after they beat St Ishmaels by 114 runs.

It was a day for the batsman as Matthew Davies finished not out on 101 while Jack Bowen added 58 runs.

That saw Whitland to an excellent total of 310-7 but Tish were unable to replicate that score. Daniel Howells did score 73 for the home side but they were eventually all out for 196.

Lawrenny earned an eighth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Burton by two wickets.

Burton batted first but were all out for 142 as Brad McDermott-Jenkins took three wickets for the visitors. Richard Jones was Burton’s top scorer with 40 runs.

Lawrenny had scores of 71 from Steve Lewis and 44 from Steve Campbell as they reached their target despite three wickets apiece from Jack Davies and Johnnie Scale.

Those results mean Haverfordwest are top of the table by a point from second placed Cresselly and by four points from Neyland.

Whitland are sixteen points behind Town in fourth place and cannot be counted out of the title race just yet.

At the other end, Johnston’s defeat means they are now 120 points from safety and with only 150 points left to play for, it seems they are destined for Division 2 cricket next season.

On Saturday (July 21), new leaders Haverfordwest are away as they take on Kilgetty. Neyland are also away as they take on Johnston while Cresselly visit St Ishmaels.

Whitland are at home to Burton and Lawrenny host Llangwm.

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Neyland hold off Kilgetty to win Duggie Morris

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NEYLAND won the Duggie Morris Cup for the fifth time in six years on Sunday (Jul 15), as they beat Kilgetty by 66 runs in an entertaining final.

Kilgetty had been set a target of 154 to win the match but some excellent bowling from Neyland saw them finish short on 87-9.

Earlier, it was Kilgetty who won the toss and chose to bowl first, giving their opponents the chance to set the first score.

The game was played at the home of Burton Cricket Club with excellent weather conditions and a good crowd was also in attendance.

However, Kilgetty soon had the upper hand as Kurtis Marsh caught Ashley Sutton on a score of 10 to give Jack Parkinson his first wicket.

Paul Murray only scored 13 for Neyland before being trapped leg before by Kurtis Marsh and he then bowled Andrew Miller for a score of 8.

Nick Koomen scored 12 before being caught by Richard Cope off the bowling of Toby Poole and Jack Parkinson claimed his second wicket when he had Patrick Bellerby caught by Poole for a score of 17.

Neyland were struggling to find the runs as Scott Jones only scored 6 before he was caught by Marsh for Parkinson’s third.

Henry Durrant offered some resistance with a score of 24 that included a big six but he was then bowled by Marsh.

Kyle Marsh then had Sean Hannon caught by Parkinson for a score of 13 and George Evans was caught by Tom Lewis off the bowling of Richard Cope.

Geraint Rees finished not out on 10 for Neyland as they limped to a total of 124-9 from their opening twenty overs.

Parkinson finished with excellent figures of 3-25, Kurtis Marsh with 2-10 and Kyle Marsh with 3-23 from his two overs.

Kilgetty then made a blistering start to their innings as they smashed their way to 73-0 off the first seven overs.

Their momentum was checked however as Hardy was caught by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Nick Koomen for a score of 39.

Toby Poole was out for a score of 1 to the bowling of Andrew Miller and Koomen then had Kurtis Marsh trapped leg before for a fine knock of 37.

Richard Cope was bowled by Miller for a duck as the run rate slipped. Liam Cullen scored 18 but he was then caught by George Evans off the bowling of Henry Durrant.

Geraint Rees also had Dafydd Bevan caught by George Evans and Patrick Hannon had bowled Kyle Marsh for a score of 6.

Rees then bowled Josh Gorman before Hannon had Jack Parkinson caught by George Evans.

Neyland’s brilliant performance in the field meant that Kilgetty’s lead was just 11 runs at the halfway stage.

Patrick Hannon (2-35), Geraint Rees (2-32), Nick Koomen (2-17) and Andrew Miller (2-11) all bowled well as they kept Kilgetty’s lead down.

Neyland were determined to get rid of that deficit as quickly as possible and although they lost Patrick Bellerby for a score of 11, caught by Poole off the bowling of Parkinson, and Ashley Sutton for a score of 1, brilliantly stumped by Poole off the bowling of Cope, Paul Murray and Nick Koomen set the All White on their way.

Murray top scored with 56 runs and he shared 55 runs with Nick Koomen who went on to score 47.

Koomen was then bowled by Toby Poole while Murray was caught by Gorman off the bowling of Kyle Marsh.

Henry Durrant then scored 17 before he was run out and Scott Jones scored nine before being bowled by Hardy.

Sean Hannon also fell to the bowling of Hardy as Kilgetty hit back as they themselves looked to keep Neyland’s lead down.

Neyland finished their second innings on 164-7 meaning Kilgetty would need 154 to win the final.

Kilgetty’s reply did not get off to the best of starts as Kurtis Marsh was caught by sub fielder Steve Murray off the bowling of Patrick Hannon for a duck.

Ross Hardy made a score of 15 but was then bowled by Andrew Miller who also had Liam Cullen stumped by Sean Hannon.

Toby Poole batted well for a score of 31 but he was again stumped by Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Dafydd Bevan also played well for a score of 29 but Geraint Rees forced him down the track leaving Hannon to claim a third stumping.

Kilgetty’s chase then faltered as no other batsman made it into double figures as Kyle Marsh was caught by Steve Murray off the bowling of Henry Durrant for a score of 1 and he then had Richard Cope superbly stumped by Hannon for a duck.

Rees picked up another wicket as he had Tom Lewis caught by Sean Hannon who then claimed a fifth stumping of the innings as he sent Josh Gorman back to the pavilion with a score of 4 to give Rees his third wicket.

Unfortunately for Kilgetty Ian Poole picked up an injury earlier in the day meaning he was unable to bat and their innings came to a close on 87-9.

That gave Neyland victory and they celebrated winning the Duggie Morris for the fifth time in six years.

Nick Koomen was awarded the Man of the Match trophy and winning captain Sean Hannon was presented with the Duggie Morris trophy.

 

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