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Wizards sink Swifts to set up Carew final

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MERLINS Bridge set up a Senior Cup Final date with Carew as they beat Monkton Swifts 3-0 at the Bridge Meadow on Tuesday night (Mar 19).

Both sides named strong line-ups for the game, determined to make it into the final, but it was the Bridge who proved the stronger as they exacted revenge for a 5-1 league defeat to the Swifts earlier in the season.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game despite persistent light rain throughout the evening.

A minutes silence was also held prior to kick off in respect of former Merlins Bridge player Denzil (Tally) John, who sadly passed away.

The Wizards had previously beaten Monkton 3-0 in the West Wales Cup and from the first whistle it was clear that they were in a confident mood.

Adam Hawkins and Nathan Greene linked up well but when Greene was tackled the ball fell to Laurie Haworth whose shot was saved.

Hawkins then saw a shot saved after he had been put through and he then played a one-two with Jordan Thomas whose shot hit the post.

Monkton then had their first chance as James Russell won a 50-50 but he saw his shot blocked wide for a corner.

All that action came in the first five minutes and it set the tone for the rest of the game with both sides coming close to opening the scoring.

The Bridge then came close again when Dai Davies sent Greene through but he flashed his shot across goal and wide.

With half an hour gone Russell came forward but dwelt on the ball too long leaving Dylan Davies and Ben Steele frustrated after both made good runs.

Blake James then saw a cross go straight into the arms of Bridge keeper Gary Thomas who then also saved Davies’ deflected shot.

With seven minutes to go until half time, the Wizards took the lead as Laurie Haworth turned excellently in the left corner and ran into the box before crossing for Hawkins who fired in to the roof of the net.

Five minutes later they doubled their lead as Ashley Beck played the ball through for Haworth who poked the ball past Swifts keeper Michael Murray to make it 2-0.

Monkton looked to respond but a corner on the stroke of half time from Chris Richards went out over the bar.

It left the Division 1 leaders with a mountain to climb in the second half and they knew they would need an early goal if they were to get back into the game.

Ten minutes in the Wizards had the first real chance of the half as Haworth won the ball and crossed for Beck but he shot wide.

On the hour mark Monkton won a free kick on the edge of the D but Steele’s free kick bounced back off the wall.

The Bridge won a series of corners which came to nothing and when Monkton looked to break off one, Hawkins made a desperate lunge to try and stop the attack. He was booked for his challenge which may have done more harm than good as he was then replaced by Will Haworth.

With twenty minutes to go sub Ryan Griffiths crossed into the box but Russell’s looping header was comfortably claimed by Thomas.

Moments later it should have been 3-0 as a slip allowed Greene in but he fluffed his lines and scuffed his shot wide.

The Swifts continued to look for a way back into the game and when Steele went down in the box he was adamant he had been pushed but referee Angus Scourfield waved away his prolonged protests.

Davies then saw a shot saved and then came perhaps their best chance of getting back into the game as a good move found Richards but Davies could only head wide from his cross.

They were soon made to pay for their missed chances as Laurie Haworth found Greene in the box who knocked in to all but seal the win.

Greene and Matthew D’Ivry were then taken off in a double change, perhaps with one eye on the West Wales Cup semi-final with Hakin next week.

The game had been won but Monkton’s Josh Richards, who had only came on in the second half, let his frustrations get the better of him late on as he overstepped the mark and saw red for his language.

Merlins Bridge saw the game out and will now look forward to the final with Carew. That game will take place on Saturday, April 20, again at the Bridge Meadow Stadium.

Speaking after the match, Merlins Bridge boss Matthew D’Ivry said: “We are really pleased with the result. We were confident that if we played to our abilities that we would get the result.

“We were confident on the back of the season we have had so far, having only had one loss to Monkton. It wasn’t about getting revenge, but more about us achieving what we had set out to do.

“Last night our experience in the bigger games shone through and that gave us the edge.”

Sport

Division 3: Three-horse race

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THE Division 3 title race and promotion will be decided on Saturday (Aug 24) with three teams all still in the hunt.

Last week, Llanrhian, who had been top prior to their game, saw their match at Llangwm Seconds called off after they claimed their pitch was wet.

Herbrandston then beat Lamphey to move top of Division 3 while the Stags picked up enough points to knock Llanrhian down to third.

Going into the final round of games, Herbrandston are 19 points ahead of Lamphey and 22 points above Llanrhian.

Herbie face a trip to Narberth Seconds knowing a win will see them crowned Champions while a draw would also be enough.

A defeat could allow Lamphey in to be crowned Champions but that would also rely on Herbie not picking up more than 11 points.

Lamphey face fourth placed Laugharne in what is likely to be a tough game for both sides.

Llanrhian still have an outside chance of claiming the title but they would need to rely on Herbie and Lamphey losing their games.

Llanrhian will look to put last week’s disappointment behind them as they host Stackpole.

A win for Llanrhian coupled with a Lamphey defeat or draw could still see them promoted.

Elsewhere, the bottom four sides play each other with one final relegation place to be decided.

Whitland seconds currently sit second from bottom and they travel to fourth from bottom Haverfordwest thirds.

A win for Whitland could move them above Town and if Llangwm also won that could see Town drop down a Division.

Llangwm seconds take on already relegated Lawrenny seconds. Llangwm sit eight points above Whitland and know anything other than a win could let Whitland go above them.

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Division 2: Narberth and Llechryd face off for title

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LLECHRYD will host Narberth on Saturday (Aug 24) with the winners being crowned champions of Division 2.

Both will be playing their cricket in Division 1 next season but the destination of the title will be decided on Saturday.

Going into the game, Llechryd sit top of the Division, 17 points ahead of Narberth. A home win will see Llechryd crowned champions but should Narberth take the win it will be they who go up as champions.

When the two teams met earlier in the season it was Narberth who came out on top with a seven wicket win.

With promotion and relegation decided there is little for the others to play for but some can still improve their final positions.

Pembroke sit third and on Saturday they are away to Kilgetty knowing if they slip up, Hook could claim third place if they beat Carew Seconds.

Relegated sides Johnston and Cresselly seconds will play each other at Glebelands with the winners earning their second win of the season.

Pembroke Dock also take on Haverfordwest seconds and a win for Town in that game will see them jump above the Dock.

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New Solva kit to continue Luke’s Stand Up To Cancer message

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THE family of inspirational cancer fundraising campaigner Luke Harding has donated a new kit to Solva AFC in his memory, which features four words that perfectly sum up the way he battled the illness – Stand Up To Cancer.

Luke, who played for Solva for around a decade, raised more than £30,000 for Withybush Hospital’s Ward 10 and local charities following his diagnosis with stage four lung cancer in 2016.

Medi George, Secretary of Solva AFC said: “Luke played football with the same dedication and energy with which he battled cancer and it is an honour for our club to be able to continue his message in this way.

“We are extremely grateful to Alex, Peter and the Harding family for this kind gesture and it is fitting that our players were able to wear the kit for the first time in the final of the first annual Luke Harding Memorial Cup.”

The kit was unveiled at Fishguard Sports’ ground before the final of the competition, with Goodwick United 2nds running out eventual 3-1 winners against Solva 2nds. The tournament also included Fishguard Sports and Letterston, which Luke also represented.

Ruth Amies, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, said: “We are extremely grateful to Luke’s family and to Solva AFC for supporting Stand Up To Cancer which funds life-saving research in Wales and across the UK. The new kit is a wonderful tribute to Luke who fundraised tirelessly throughout his diagnosis and we are thrilled the players wore the new kit for the first time this week.”

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