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Road to Russia ended by the Republic

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By Jonathan Twigg

WALES’ World Cup journey ended on Monday (Oct 9) at the Cardiff City Stadium when they were beaten 1-0 with a goal by James McClean of the Republic of Ireland in an emotional, tense but drab encounter.

The evening started with a rousing rendition of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’, which moved the crowds mood to a crescendo and the Welsh team, lacking the mercurial Gareth Bale responded through possession and territory, which failed to generate chances to open the scoring.

The requirement was simple; beat the visitors and take a pathway through the play offs, probably as a seeded team and if luck   ran with the Welsh players then maybe gaining automatic qualification if Serbia didn’t beat Georgia. Neither happened as Martin O’Neil, manager of the ’boys in green’ conjured up a master plan to outwit his opposite number Chris Coleman.

Predicted as the biggest game for Wales in a generation, after the disappointment of play-off elimination at the hands of Russia in 2004, a Paul Bodin penalty miss in the fatal night in 1994 and perhaps back as far as Scotland’s Joe Jordan’s handball in 1978.  Wales can’t make that final step to infinity and the World Cup Finals, their last game being a quarter final defeat at the hands of champions Brazil in Gothenburg, Sweden, although an inspired semi-final performance at the 2016 Euro’s had heightened the publics expectations, perhaps falsely.

Without Bale, the collective team spirit needed to come to the fore for the Dragon, but it failed to ignite against an Irish team which out muscled them in key areas.  Stoke City’s Pembrokeshire born midfielder Joe Allen left the field in a groggy state after being the filling in a sandwich, the bread supplied by skipper David Meyler and striker McClean.  Wales couldn’t adapt to the loss of Allen with the normally bright Aaron Ramsey and youngster Lawrence unable to produce the magic moments.

The winner came in the 57 minute with the crowd rekindling the spirit of Euro 2016 with a rendition of ‘please don’t take me home’ when Jeff Hendrick robbed skipper Ashley Williams of the ball to whip in a cross from the right hand side for McClean to meet on the half volley.

The goal which stunned 30,000 voices into silence, 3000 Irishmen apart, saw Wales fall behind for the first time in the World Cup qualifying campaign and the crowd felt the unease as the team struggled to gain parity in the game.

Reflection shouldn’t be on the disappointing result in the final game, more perhaps on the team’s inability to secure three points in fixtures they were in control of during the campaign.

In 12 months they drew with Austria, Georgia, Serbia twice and the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, the first four of those fixtures saw them leading on each occasion.  Coming into the last game they had won three on the bounce and held prime position for qualification for the play-offs in their own hands.

The defeat, a first on home soil since Serbia in 2013 takes some of the momentum out of Chris Coleman’s managerial reign, where a top draw offering of a return to Club football may see him venture to pastures new.

It could also mark the end for some stalwart performers as Ashley Williams, Chris Gunter and Joe Ledley head a list of players who may find another two year campaign too much for their aging limbs.

Wales’ golden generation may well be changing although the future is bright with a conveyor belt of talented youngsters now on the verge of the squad.

Optimism remains high from a Welsh public desperate to see their heroes reach a World Cup Final, where we are ranked thirteenth in the World.

There is still time for the Dragon’s roar to breath some real fire on the World stage.

Sport

Phillips takes a hat trick as Cresselly seal Alec Colley final spot

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CRESSELLY are through to the final of the Alec Colley Cup after beating Hook on Wednesday night (July 21) at Narberth Cricket Club.

Chris Phillips took a hat trick for Cresselly as they restricted Hook to 133-8 in their innings before going to pass their target for the loss of only one wicket.

Hook won the toss and batted first on another warm evening and openers Jamie Phelps and George James shared 37 runs for the first wicket.

Phelps scored 18 but he was then caught and bowled as Phillips picked up the first of his four wickets.

James hit five fours and six in his score of 33 but Phillips had him caught by Scott Arthur.

Phillips then removed Brennan Martin with the next ball before bowling Oscar Willington to claim his hat trick.

It left Hook reeling on 64-4 but scores of 32 from Liam Miller and 21 from Will Goronwy rescued Hook.

Matthew Lewis claimed the wicket of Miller and he later bowled Andrew Thomas to finish with figures of 2-29.

There was also two wickets for Corey Lewis but it was Phillips’ figures of 4-33 that stood out.

Scott Arthur and Neil Williams got Cresselly’s reply off to a great start as they shared 50 runs for the first wicket.

Williams was bowled by Oscar Willington on a score of 6 but that was the only wicket to fall.

Arthur and Chris Phillips shared 84 runs to take Cresselly into the Alec Colley Cup final.

Phillips added to his earlier wickets with a score of 25 not out that included four fours.

Arthur was the star of the innings however, as he hit 12 fours to finish not out on 73.

They will now play the winners of the tie between Neyland and Saundersfoot who play tonight at Carew Cricket Club.

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Serrant-Green signs for Haverfordwest County

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HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY AFC has announced the signing of forward Jack Serrant-Green.

The 27-year-old puts pen-to-paper on a deal that will see him play his football at the Bridge Meadow Stadium for the 2021/22 Cymru Premier season.

Serrant-Green arrives in West Wales having recently played in the League of Ireland for Finn Harps and becomes the Bluebirds’ sixth signing of the summer.

Born in Nottingham, he began his career at Burton Albion, playing for their Under-18s side.

In 2013, he moved abroad to play for Swedish outfit Gottne IF. After two years in the Ettan Norra, he moved around to other clubs like Gällivare-Malmbergets, IFK Umeå, Kiruna FF, Söderhamns FF and Bodens BK.

The prolific striker accumulated a total of 92 goals in 149 appearances during his spell in the third, fourth and fifth tiers of Sweden.

Jack has been assigned the number 15 shirt and is available for sponsorship. If you are interested in sponsoring our newest recruit, please contact r.edwards@hcafc1899.football.

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Pembroke U11s earn first win of season

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PEMBROKE Under 11s earned their first win of the season recently as they beat Lamphey.

Pembroke scored 255-4 while Lamphey could only reach 245-4. Elsewhere in the Under 11s leagues, Narberth beat Haverfordwest.

Narberth U11s (250-5) beat Haverfordwest U11s (231-7)

Narberth: Iddgoda 2/2 & 9, O Johns 3/2, Z Aspurra 2/10.

Haverfordwest: Will D 1/6, Brandon D 2/5, Osian M 1/2, Imogen H 1/2.

The Under 11’s Semi Finals will both be played on Monday July 26.

Hook will host St Ishmaels and Saundersfoot are at home to Llechryd. The winners of the two games will contest the final which will be played at Hook on Monday, August 9.

Under 13’s

Hook (121-2) beat St Ishmaels (34-all out)

Hook: Oscar Willington 27 retired & 3-0, Ifan Williams 25 retired & 1-0, Rhys Phelps 17, William Harries 13 retired, Charlie Holder 7, Edward Johnson 2-6, Callum Nutty 1-6, Harri Evans 1-7

St Ishmaels: Dylan McGuire 4, Alfie Thomas 4, Ethan Dawes 4, Sammy Wilson 1-14

Under 15’s

Whitland (73-5) beat Llechryd (72-6)

Whitland: Charles Bujega 27 not out, Rhys Jones 18, Ethan Ryan 13, Cai lewis 1-3, Dai James 1-12 Cian Rees 1-16

Llechryd: Tomos Lewis 19 & 2-7, Ifan WJ 9, Joe Dow 1-8

Cresselly (28-all out) lost to Lawrenny (29-0)

Cresselly: Charlie Arthur 9, Ollie Arthur 9

Lawrenny: Finley Lewis 17 not out, Will Allen 10 not out, Rhydian Eynon 1-0, Mark White 1-3, Corey Hall 3-9, Noah Williams 5-1

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