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Seagulls stun promotion chasers

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FISHGUARD upset promotion chasers Pontyberem on Saturday (Mar 30) as they put on an impressive display to come away with a 12-24 win.

It was a game that the Bont wanted to win to keep up their hopes of going up but they came up against a Seagulls side looking to improve their place in the Division.

The Bont were on top early on but the Seagulls were able to keep them out before mounting attacks of their own.

They then took the lead as Geraint Jones scored a penalty before scoring the first try of the game.

Ed Bendall touched the ball down after the ball had been kicked into the corner and Jones then added the extras for a 0-10 lead.

Pontyberem responded and got their first try when the ball was kicked forward and when the ball was offloaded to number 8 Dafydd Jones, he juggled the ball briefly before taking hold and touching down.

That brought the score to 5-10 at the break but the Seagulls came out determined to add to their lead.

Gavin Walsh finished off a good move to increase the Seagulls’ lead and Jones then added the extras.

Bendall then went over for his second try which was also converted by Jones to give his side a big lead.

The Bont looked to respond and the ball was passed out to the left for Dafydd Jones who skipped through the tackles to score a good try. Mike Sauro then added the extras but his side were still twelve points behind.

Try as they might they were unable to add to the score and Fishguard saw the game out to seal an excellent win.

On Saturday (Apr 6), Fishguard are at home as they take on league leaders Penclawdd. Pontyberem travel to Carmarthen Athletic.

Sport

Bluebirds beat Old Gold in friendly

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CARMARTHEN opened their pre-season programme on Saturday (Jul 13) with an attractive fixture against near neighbours Haverfordwest who currently operate in the Welsh League after a long period as local rivals in the Welsh Premier League.

Town’s squad comprised most of the regulars that appeared during the relatively successful WPL second-phase programme last season while there were first appearances for new signings Chris Jones (from Llanelli), Elliott Scotcher (from Haverfordwest) and Josh Bull (from Blaenavon) – in addition several players from the Club’s Academy took part.

Notable absentees from last season’s regular match-day squad were Luke Bowen and Ceri Morgan (both unavailable) while Mael Davies and Luke Cummings have transferred to Cardiff Met and Barry Town respectively.

The opening stages of this game were fairly uninspiring and uneventful with the play largely confined to unproductive midfield exchanges and neither defence was subjected to any noticeable pressure – during this spell this “contest” resembled little more than an opportunity for some welcome passing practice after the players’ summer break.

However on 16 minutes County took the lead with their first serious scoring effort. From close to the right touchline Ben Fawcett sent an inviting free-kick into the packed goalmouth where Sean Pemberton found space amongst a fairly static Old Gold defence to plant his firm close-range header past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the back of the net.

It took some time before Town reacted positively to that set-back and it was not until the 29th minute that they managed a shot of any significance on target. Academy player Sam Phillips produced some smart footwork on the left flank before sending the ball across to Chris Jones who from 20 yards struck a fierce shot that, unfortunately, went too straight and gave ‘keeper Stephan Hall a comfortable save.

After a flurry of substitutions on 31 minutes the Old Gold at last began to look more competitive and almost immediately they went close to snatching an equaliser. Lewis Harling received the ball deep inside the visitors’ half then moved forward to the edge of the penalty area before releasing a stunning strike that slid just wide of the post.

They continued to probe the County defence but few scoring opportunities arose, too often due to a poor ‘final pass’. Yet after 45 minutes triallist Brad Flay produced a fine pass to set Harling racing towards the corner of the penalty area – the stylish midfielder finished the move with a rasping angled drive that, sadly, flew narrowly wide of the goal.

Despite Town’s welcome improvement they conceded another goal in the 48th minute. Haverfordwest defender Miles John burst forward into the penalty area only to be brought down by a poorly-judged tackle from Declan Carroll – Tyler Brock comfortably converted the spot-kick.

However, the Old Gold were quick to reduce the deficit. New signing Elliott Scotcher, since coming on as a substitute, was performing impressively in midfield – always looking comfortable in possession and demonstrating very effective distribution. And, on 52 minutes, from the wide edge of the penalty area his searching free-kick to the far side of the crowded goalmouth was met by Harling who planted his firm header beyond the reach of substitute ‘keeper Kyle Stuart and into the roof of the net.

Town continued to press forward and went near to restoring parity after 63 minutes when Jordan Knott on the left flank lifted a high cross towards the far post where Liam Thomas, closely marked by a defender, hooked the ball just narrowly wide and into the side netting.

With the Old Gold now attacking with greater intent, County began to present more of a threat on the counter-attack.

On 66 minutes Pemberton broke clear to chase a long ball played forward into the penalty area only to be denied by Town’s substitute Academy ‘keeper Tom Windsor who rushed way out of his goal to clear the danger.

Soon afterwards Windsor was beaten by a fierce 20 yard drive from Alfie Stotter but thankfully Craig Hanford was well placed to block the ball on the goal-line.

However, as Town continued to pour upfield in search of an equaliser the threat of conceding a breakaway goal remained – and, almost inevitably, in the 85th minute the Welsh League side were not to be denied. Marcus Griffiths made a strong run along the left-wing before cutting inside and passing Jordan Vickers all too easily before releasing a powerful drive that went beyond Windsor’s reach and into the roof of the net.

In the closing moments of the match the Old Gold almost conceded another – Griffiths outpaced Hanford along the left flank to reach a long pass then sent a perfect cross to the edge of the penalty area where Fawcett released a promising shot that defeated Windsor but hit the underside of the bar and the ball bounced straight down and into the arms of the grateful young ‘keeper.

On the admittedly very limited evidence of this single match it would seem that in the forthcoming season either Town might again struggle in the WPL or County will enjoy a very successful WL programme since for long periods there was little to separate the two teams.

While results in pre-season fixtures are of no real importance, performances certainly are – and with the start of the WPL season just five weeks away some evidence of progressive improvement during the forthcoming PSF matches would be very welcome.

Carmarthen’s next friendly is on Wednesday, July 17, (k/o 7.30pm) when they visit Welsh League side Briton Ferry – then on the following Saturday July 20th they have a very attractive fixture against Swansea Town (under 23s) at Richmond Park (k/o 2.30pm).

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Dock fall short in mammoth chase

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PEMBROKE DOCK fell just short chasing 301 on Saturday (Jul 13) as their game with Johnston finished in a draw.

Johnston batted first and racked up an outstanding score of 300-9, the highest of any side in the five Divisions.

Things did not start well for Johnston however, as openers Stephen James and Gino Cleal departed early as they were reduced to 25-2.

That became 74-4 as Liam James and Nicholas Davies deaprted cheaply also.

Josh Hicks and Liam Boswell then shared a good fifth wicket stand worth 81 runs as Johnston began to cut loose.

Boswell hit nine fours in his score of 48 but he was then stumped by Scott Griffiths off the bowling of Jake Griffiths.

John Summons and Curtis Hicks were then run out for single figure scores as the Dock hit back.

Hicks and Keegan Codd then shared another good stand before Codd was out on a score of 27 when he was bowled by Nick Daley.

Hicks hit fifteen fours and ten sixes in his superb knock of 157. He was eventually bowled by Niall Brunton but the damage was done as the Dock were set 301 to win the game.

The Dock knew they would need to make a good start if they were to chase that down but they lost Luke Murray early to the bowling of Keegan Codd and Jake Griffiths to the bowling of Liam James on a score of 24.

Nick Daley was also stumped off the bowling of James as they slipped to 44-3.

Scott Griffiths and Archie Wood then shared 57 runs for the fourth wicket but Curtis Hicks struck to have Wood caught by Liam Boswell on a score of 38.

Peter Kingdom was also out to Hicks before Griffiths and Craig Butland shared 82 runs for the sixth wicket.

Butland made a score of 30 and although he was out to the bowling of Liam James, Griffiths carried on to reach his century.

Nicholas Davies ran out Tom Grimwood and had Jamie White as the Dock began to run out of time.

Griffiths hit 25 fours as he finished not out on 126 but it wasn’t enough to see the Dock to victory.

They finished short on 278-8 as both sides settled for an entertaining draw.

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Neyland too good for Tish

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NEYLAND proved too strong for St Ishmaels on Saturday (Jul 13), as they earned a nine wicket win.

The league leaders won the toss and elected to field and they were able to restrict Tish to 155-9 in their 45 overs.

They lost three wickets early on as Daniel Richards was caught by Patrick Bellerby off the bowling of Tom Pritchard on a score of 11.

Brennan Devonald hit a four and a six in his score of 14 but he was then caught by Ross Hardy off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Harry Nicholas scored 19 but he was then caught by Henry Durrant off the bowling of Hardy as Tish slipped to 45-3.

Phil Cockburn and Jack Nicholas then shared 39 runs for the fourth wicket but Miller struck again as he had Nicholas caught by Pritchard.

Cockburn and Andrew Williams then put on 56 runs for the fifth wicket in a good partnership.

That was brought to an end though as Williams was caught by Pritchard off the bowling of Geraint Rees on a score of 26.

That left Tish on 140-5 and their innings began to fade away as Mark Mathias was then stumped by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Gary Lloyd.

Lloyd then had Andrew Pawlett caught by Ashley Sutton for a duck.

Cockburn had hit ten fours in his score of 68 but he was also stumped by Hannon off the bowling of Nick Koomen.

Lloyd claimed his third wicket as he bowled Jonathan Pawlett as Tish finished their innings on 155-9.

Neyland’s Nick Koomen and Patrick Bellerby got their reply off to a good start as they shared 54 runs for the first wicket.

Brennan Devonald bowled Bellerby on a score of 25 but that was as good as it got for the home side.

Koomen and Ashley Sutton shared a 102-run partnership to see their side over the line with twelve overs to spare.

Sutton hit seven fours and a six in his score of 56 while Koomen top scored on 68 having hit nine fours and a six.

On Saturday (Jul 20), Neyland host Carew while Tish travel to Cresselly.

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