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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).

Sport

Chairman’s disappointment at Haverfordwest County AFC v Cefn Druids game postponement

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TODAY’S match (Sept 12) between Haverfordwest County AFC and Cefn Druids has been postponed.

The club’s chairman, Robert Edwards, said that he was disappointed to learn the news and stated that the club had followed every single FAW regulation and protocol to the letter.

In an official statement, Mr Edwards said: “The club are extremely disappointed to learn of the postponement of today’s match versus Cefn Druids. It has been a summer of change at the club and we were all looking forward to seeing our hard work played out on the pitch today. The ground staff, coaching team, and Club Secretary have worked tirelessly for the last few weeks, so I am bitterly disappointed for them, and cannot thank them enough for their effort and dedication.

“We would like to make it clear that our club has followed every single FAW regulation and protocol to the letter. Since the resumption of training, we ensured that all rules within the Return to Play guidelines were followed during their respective phases, all players and staff have completed Benchmark COVID-19 questionnaires, and we have spent the previous few weeks guaranteeing that The Bridge Meadow Stadium is a safe environment for football to resume, as per FAW guidelines.

“At all our pre-season games, we ensured that they were correctly sanctioned, and once again, all protocols were followed. We will continue our hard work to ensure that all rules are followed at our club and look forward to getting our campaign underway against Cardiff Met on Tuesday.
“We will not make any further public comment as a club and will be liaising directly with FAW on this matter.”

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Rooks triumph at Treleet

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Alec Colley Cup Final
Carew (95 for 8 and 103 for 8) beat
St Ishmaels (64 for 9 and 106 for 8)
by 29 runs

FAVOURITES Carew won the Alec Cup Final at Treleet on Sunday, August 30, but not without St Ishmael’s second-string showing that they were not be taken lightly.

The decisive period of the match was both sides’ first innings.

Batting first in tricky conditions, Carew struggled against accurate Tish bowling from the outset, with only opener Nick Scourfield providing resistance among the top order batters. And it wasn’t as if Tish didn’t have the chance to deny Carew even that as Danny Flynn dropped Scourfield off opening bowler Kevin Bowen in the Final’s first over.

As it was, Carew stumbled to 45-6 with only five overs of their first knock remaining. It wasn’t until Dai Rees joined Scourfield that the scoring’s tempo increased. Rees hit three sixes on his way to an invaluable 24 before Flynn’s catch off Stuart Carpenter’s bowling. Scourfield also increased his previously sedate progress to add four boundaries in what proved a vital partnership with Rees that helped Carew close on 95-8.

St Ishmaels got off to a rotten a start as Carew’s bowlers exploited conditions. Their innings limped along without a major partnership and only opener Robbie Thomas, along with Steve Williams and Flynn made double figures.

Carew skipper Barry Evans used his nous to end with four wickets, while Kerry Waters applied the squeeze by conceding only ten runs in his spell for the wicket of Ieuan Hawkins. At the end of twenty overs, Tish had struggled to a meagre 64-9, conceding a thirty one run lead to Carew.

With opener Nick Scourfield suffering from a hamstring injury, Carew pressed Morgan Grieve up the order to partner Brian Hall and the pair started off brightly but were separated by Steve Williams before Kevin Bowen claimed Hall’s wicket. St Ishmaels exerted real pressure on the Carew batsmen, with Steve Williams claiming an excellent 3-16.

Carew were indebted to another late innings rally, again featuring Rees, this time in a partnership with Simon Wood. Wood batted cleverly and mixed powerful strokes with some excellent cricket shots on his way to unbeaten 40. Carew’s innings closed on 103-8, setting the underdogs a challenging 135 to win.

After their first innings’ travails, such a chase seemed highly unlikely for Tish. However, Flynn and Rhead were steady at the start before the former’s dismissal by Simon Wood (3-27). Kevin Bowen then gave Tish some real hope with a dashing 25 runs before being caught by Haydn Shapcott off skipper Barry Evans’ slow left-armers.

A rapid-fire partnership of 28 between Ieuan Hawkins and Steve Williams could not stop the inevitable, as Carew had too many runs and just too much experience to lose the match on a tricky drying surface, left damp by recent heavy rain and overnight showers. Tish never gave up fighting and showed real grit and determination before their second innings closed on 106-8, leaving Carew winners by 29 runs.
Umpires Jonathan Willington and Allan Hansen chose Simon Wood as the Man of the Match, a new trophy sponsored by Neyland CC in memory of their late clubman Martin Rees which was presented by Neyland Cricket Club’s Chair, Martin Jones.

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Cricket: Neyland win Harrison Allen

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A BRILLIANT recovery in the field during Haverfordwest’s first innings laid the foundations for a convincing Neyland victory at Cresselly this afternoon.
Neyland, batting first, carved and scampered their way to 142 in their first innings.
Haverfordwest’s reply started in brutal fashion, as Adam James smashed the bowling to all parts, peppering the boundary with a succession of massive hits on his way to a quick fire 34. With the fourth over of the Haverfordwest innings not yet finished, the Town were on 54 and looking like they would set all sorts of scoring records.
Andrew Miller and, particularly, Ross Hardy established a measure of control and sharp fielding squeezed the Haverfordwest batsmen, cutting off boundaries and harrying the batsmen into mistakes.
Neyland reeled in the Town batsmen so successfully that, having looked on course at first for a mammoth score and then a big first-innings lead, they got a slender eight-run lead to take into their second innings.
Neyland started slowly in their second innings before Ashley Sutton and Patrick Bellerby began to step on the gas after Nick Koomen went early. They were particularly severe on veteran spinner Clive Tucker, who took heavy punishment from the pair.
Their good work was carried on by Nathan Banner, who belted a series of massive sixes off Simon Holliday and Clive Tucker, as Neyland posted a massive 214 runs, setting an imposing 222 target.
Despite a rapid start by Potter and an injured Adam James in their second innings, as soon as wickets started to fall, they kept on tumbling as Neyland were sharp in the field and Ross Hardy bowled with great control from the difficult Pavillion End.
The introduction of Andrew Miller from the School End saw him pick up the wicket of Ben Field, who mishit a gentle catch to extra cover.
With him, Haverfordwest’s faint last hope vanished and their innings stuttered to 103-9 leaving them 119 runs adrift and Neyland as Bowl champions.
For his batting in both innings and brilliant fielding, Ashley Sutton was named man of the match.

FULL REPORT IN THIS FRIDAY’S HERALD

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