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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).

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Johnston earn first win

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JOHNSTON secured their first win of the season on Saturday (Aug 10) as they beat Carew seconds by 68 runs.

It brings an end to a long wait for Johnston who went nearly two seasons without victory.

On Saturday they batted first against Carew scoring a good total of 210-9 in their innings.

Gino Cleal top scored for Johnston with 76 runs and there was also a good knock of 44 from Steve James.

Josh Hicks also scored 19 runs as the visitors looked to set a challenging target for their hosts.

For Carew, Rob Hicks was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with figures of 4-22 while Rhys Canton also bowled well for his figures of 2-37.

In reply, Carew’s Yori Hicks scored 62 and Alex Wilkes added 28 but Johnston were not to be denied on this occasion.

Nick Davies was in fine form with the ball taking seven wickets fore the loss of 41 runs. Mark Hicks also took two wickets for Johnston.

They bowled Carew out for 142 and the win also lifts them off the bottom of the table.

Having sealed their first win of the season they will go again on Saturday (Aug 17), when they travel to second placed Narberth.

Carew seconds will look to get back to winning ways when they take on Cresselly Seconds.

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Sport

Athletic play Vikings in Joe Lennon final

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MILFORD Athletic will play Hakin United in the Joe Lennon Cup Final on Saturday (Aug 17) after both sides won their respective semi-finals.

Milford Athletic played on Monday (Aug 12) and they beat Herbrandston on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Hakin played their game on Tuesday (Aug 13) and they overcame Milford United, again by the method of penalties.

On Monday, Division 3 side Athletic took the lead in the first half when Gareth Quirk’s free kick went in despite the Herbie keeper managing to get a hand on the ball.

Keeper Owen Thomas then made a couple of good saves to keep Herbie in the game.

They finished the second half strongly and were rewarded when Marc Boswell’s free kick flew into the net to make it 1-1.

Both sides had further chances but neither could find a winner which meant penalties would be needed to separate the sides.

Athletic keeper Jonathan Pawlett saved McCauley Marshallsay’s spot kick before Callum English fired over to send the Athletic through.

For them, Quirk, Haydn Dimond, Liam Clarke and John Lydon were all on target from the spot.

Tuesday’s sem-final followed a similar story as Scott Reid opened the scoring for the Vikings with a fine strike, only for Milford United to level matters.

Lewys Tee’s goal brought them level at the break to make it 1-1 and that was how it stayed until the final whistle.

Reid came close when a cross was fumbled into his path by the United keeper but he poked the ball wide.

The Vikings also brought on Nicky Woodrow as they went in search of a winner but penalties would again be needed to separate the two sides.

With the score level at 3-3 in the shootout, Joel Codd sent his penalty wide for Milford leaving the hosts with a chance to go through.

Leon Luby kept his nerve to give the Vikings a 4-3 shootout win to send them to the final.

The final will take place on Saturday (Aug 17) at the Obs and kicks off at 2pm.

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Sport

Cresselly stun Town

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CRESSELLY’s Dan Sutton scored an unbeaten century to help his side to a ten-wicket win over Haverfordwest on Saturday (Aug 10).

Town batted first on winning the toss and made a good total of 208-2 from their 45 overs.

Simon Holliday and Danny Potter shared 43 runs for the first wicket before Potter was bowled by Ryan Lewis on a score of 23.

Holliday and Dai Davies shared another 99 runs for the second wicket as they continued to put runs on the board.

Davies hit five fours and a six in his score of 47 but he was then caught by Mike Venables off the bowling of Tom Arthur.

Holliday and Ben Field then shared another 66 runs to take Town to their total.

Field finished unbeaten on 38 having hit two fours and a six while Holliday hit five fours and five sixes as he finished not out on 94.

Dan Sutton and Phil Williams began Cresselly’s reply and they were untroubled by Town’s bowling attack.

Williams hit eight fours as he finished unbeaten on 65 but Sutton was the star of the show.

He smashed fifteen fours and five sixes to finish not out on 135 from 122 balls to help Cresselly to their target with time to spare.

The win for Cresselly sees them close the gap to third place Carew to 11 points with the two sides set to play each other on Saturday (Aug 17).

Town will look to bounce back but they face a tough test against newly-crowned Champions Neyland.

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