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Wizards hold their nerve to reach final

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MERLINS Bridge are through to the final of the West Wales Cup for the first time after they beat Hakin United 8-7 on penalties at the Bridge Meadow on Tuesday night (Mar 26).

A big crowd gathered for the game and they witnessed another classic as Merlins Bridge came from behind to lead in extra time, only for a Justin Harding penalty to level matters and force more spot kicks.

Sadly for Hakin, Jimmy Walker saw his penalty saved by Bridge keeper Gary Thomas and the Wizards celebrated another excellent win.

Both sides had chances to go ahead early on as Harding saw an effort saved before Laurie Haworth saw his effort bounce out off the bar.

Midway through the half it was the Vikings who took the lead as Nicky Woodrow’s stunning effort left Thomas with no chance.

Haworth came close to finding an equaliser when he was played through but Hakin keeper James Manson did well to come out and deny him.

The Bridge came close again but when the half time whistle went it was still the Vikings who held the advantage.

In the second half the Wizards started well as they looked to get back into the game with both Leahy and Haworth coming close.

The Vikings responded and had a good spell of pressure but were unable to add to their lead.

Then with just over twenty minutes to go, Leahy sent a free kick into the box and Adam Hawkins rose highest to head home and make it 1-1.

Five minutes later the Wizards nearly took the lead when Leahy was played through but Manson made a good save to keep the scores level.

Harding then came close for the Vikings but his shot was again saved by Thomas.

Neither side were able to find a late winner and it meant that extra time would be needed.

Six minutes into extra time Merlins Bridge gained the advantage as Leahy was played in and he calmly slotted in.

Woodrow then crossed for Hakin but the Wizards were able to clear before Harding could poke the ball in.

They then had a free kick which Ryan Wilson sent into the box but Shane Walsh’s effort came back off the post.

In the second period of extra time, Hakin almost equalised but Thomas made a good save to tip Bradley Barrett’s shot over the bar.

Just as it looked like the Wizards would see the game out, Hakin were awarded a penalty. Justin Harding held his nerve to score and keep his side in the West Wales Cup.

There was little time left and it meant that the sides would need to be separated by a penalty shoot out.

Greene and Laurie Haworth scored early for the Bridge while Woodrow and Harding replied for Hakin.

After ten penalties it was 5-5 with neither side putting a foot wrong.

It was now into sudden death and Andrew John and Alex Ouzman both scored their respective penalties to make it 7-7.

Gethin Roberts then scored for the Bridge but Hakin’s Jimmy Walker saw his spot kick saved by Thomas sparking wild celebrations amongst the Bridge players and coaches.

It means a first West Wales Cup Final appearance for the Wizards and it could be an all Pembrokeshire final if Carew beat Giants Grave in the other semi tonight (Mar 27).

The final will take place at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday, May 7.

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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Sport

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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