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Captain Bony calms the ship

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By Jonathan Twigg

A MAN of the match performance from Captain Wilfried Bony led the charge for Swansea City on Saturday (Dec 9) when his second goal in consecutive games sealed a dour 1-0 victory on a dark and gloomy afternoon over West Bromwich Albion at the Liberty Stadium.

Securing a valuable three points lifted Paul Clements under pressure Swans side off the foot of the Premier League table as Bony’s winner sparked a chorus of ‘Hymns and Arias’ with nine minutes remaining.

Substitute Tammy Abraham’s effort was cleared off the line at the far post from a Ki Sung-Yueng corner before the Ivory Coast strikers’ driven right foot shot which thundered beyond former England goalkeeper Ben Foster.

The Swans started the game at the foot of the table but took solace from the fact they had won five out of six fixtures when they had been in a similar situation previously. Their visitors hadn’t won a game in the Premier League for four months and were on a run of three consecutive defeats in their travels to West Wales.

The green shirted Albion started brightly keeping the ball and moving it around across the floor much unlike teams who play under their new manager Alan Pardew’s banner.

Without creating opportunities apart from a Jake Livermore shot midway through the half to punish the home side, the play meandered precariously towards stalemate at half time, unsurprisingly perhaps as former Bayern Munich Assistant Manager Paul Clements side had netted just eight goals in 15 league games.

Winger Nathan Dyer drew a foul from Claudio Yacob after 18 minutes which earned him yellow card which proved to be a catalyst for the apprehension surrounding Swansea’s play subsiding for the remainder of the first half as they gained superiority in terms of possession and territory.

The closest they came was when midfielder Livermore headed against his own post from a dipping Tom Carroll free kick as the visitors screened the play well through skipper Jonny Evans and his centre back partner Yacob across the 18 yard box.

Bony’s opportunities were restricted despite midfielders Carroll, Ki and Roque Mesa enterprising combinations  with Dyer and full back Martin Olsson getting behind the opposition defence through the outside channels, where Sam Field collected a yellow card after 35 minutes as he tried to disrupt the inter play.

Centre half Alfie Mawson squandered a great opportunity to head an opening goal when he found space six yards out with seven minutes remaining before Swansea came out for the second half on the front foot.

Bony managed to break the defensive shackles on him with a strong and direct run but pulled a driven shot wide of the post, which added to the derisory tally of 27 shots on target this season for his side, the worst across any of the major European leagues.

Clement’s introduction of Jordan Ayew after 54 minutes for Wayne Routledge injected more spirit and it created opportunities to test Foster, from which Bony drew heart to become an influential figure on the game as the Baggies eventually wilted under the pressure and conceded the only goal.

Tammy Abraham should have sealed the victory in injury time when he was worked free to stride beyond the covering defenders only to wrench his effort wide when one on one with Foster, an effort which the eighteenth created in the match, but only three were on target.

Mesa picked up a second half yellow card as did Carroll before he was replaced by Luciano Narsingh, with Evans and substitute Chris Brunt for the Albion, alongside Welsh striker Hal Robson Kanu as he berated referee Dean on his way off the field to be replaced just before the goal, by Oliver Burke.

The crowd of 19,590 greeted the final whistle knowing they find themselves a point adrift Alan Pardew’s side who hover one place outside the relegation places; two wins would catapult Swansea to mid-table, which would be a welcome festive tonic as the January transfer window opens, allowing Clement an opportunity to re-inforce his squad which for most of this season has looked short on the quality required for survival in the Premier League.

Their first win since October was certainly scrappy where the immaculately dressed Clements’ initial reaction to Bony’s strike was to dance down the touchline coupled with a huge sigh of relief to go with his elation.

His bold offensive substitutions achieved the result he required as unbeaten table toppers Manchester City visit on Wednesday evening to fully test Clements’ skills and aptitude as a focused and thoughtful tactician.

The roadshow then heads to Goodison Park to take on an Everton side themselves on a run of four unbeaten games since former England supremo Sam Allardyce took the reins before fellow relegation rivals Crystal Palace arrive at the Liberty for a key Yuletide fixture on Saturday (Dec 23).

Swansea head on the road after Christmas, firstly again to Merseyside to face Liverpool at Anfield on  Boxing Day and Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday (Dec 30) before hosting Tottenham Hotspur at home on Saturday (Jan 2).

Clement and his side will take confidence from Saturday’s victory which has eased the pressure in the cauldron after Club owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien afforded Clement their ‘public support’.

Sport

Saints get back to winning ways

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ST CLEARS got back to winning ways in Division 2 on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Merlins Bridge seconds 4-1.

They were beaten by leaders Kilgetty in their last game before Christmas and they were keen to avoid another defeat against the side that sat just one place below them in the table.

The game started off frantically with lots of errors from both teams but after 15 minutes, both started to settle and the chances began to come.

The first fell to St Clears with Nathan Evans, after good link up play with Steve Thomas, who was through on goal but he dragged his shot wide.

Will Evans, who was busy on the wing for St Clears, then managed to beat the oncoming defender but his shot was at the keeper.

From this Bridge set up a counter attack and moved the ball well up to the strikers and a pinpoint cross found the head of Ryan Doyle who made no mistake from 8 yards out to put the hosts 1-0 up.

After the goal, St Clears began to find their rhythm, again mounting attack after attack and seeing a fair amount of possession.

There were chances for Will Evans, Josh Jones and a flurry of corners but the away side could not convert.

Bridge however, were proving dangerous on the counter and had two opportunities themselves to extend their lead which were snuffed out by the away defence and keeper Jason Jones.

Into the second half and it started very much like the first half ended.

St Clears went straight on the attack, playing their short, sharp passing game and began to create chances. Will Evans again had three early shots but Dan Birch the Merlins Bridge keeper was resolute and holding firm.

It was on around 60 minutes when a wide free kick was whipped into the box and challenged for by Nick Squire, that the ball fell and was coolly finished by Steve Thomas to bring the score to 1-1.

After this period Bridge began to get a bit more of the ball and started to form some of their own attacking play, however nothing significant to concern the away keeper, as the defence in front of him stood strong.

Around 70 minutes in and another excellent pass from Nathan Evans found Thomas again on the edge of the box, who brought the ball down on his left and thundered a half volley into the roof of the net to make it 2-1 to the away side.

Not long after this, Thomas again picked up the ball after a neat flick from Josh Jones and ran at the Bridge defence, Thomas then returned the favour to Josh Jones who went on to finish and make it 3-1.

Finally, around 85 minutes in, substitute Dorian Davies whipped in a long cross from wide and the ever alert Thomas ran in at the back post to secure a hat trick and a 4-1 win for the Saints. 

The win moves the Saints up to third, two points behind the top two with four games in hand.

On Saturday, January 22, St Clears host Johnston while Merlins Bridge seconds host Hakin United seconds.

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Pennar and Neyland share the points

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PENNAR Robins and Neyland settled for a point on Saturday (Jan 15) as their game at Bush Camp ended 2-2.

It was just over a month since both sides last played a game and Neyland welcomed back some absentees.

Pennar went in to the game on the back of two defeats (one in the league and one in the Senior Cup) while Neyland had suffered three straight league defeats.

The game was just six minutes old when Pennar took the lead as Nick Willis scored.

However two quick goals from Neyland turned the game on its head.

Mike Chandler levelled for the visitors and just two minutes later Max Bowman-Davies put Neyland ahead.

The action was not over though as Pennar hit back eight minutes before the break when Jack Phillips scored.

Both sides made changes in the second half in a bid to search for the winner but it remained 2-2 until the final whistle.

Neyland were pleased to pick up the point and will now look to start building some momentum and climb away from the bottom two.

On Saturday, January 22, Neyland travel to Monkton Swifts while Pennar are away to Narberth.

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Vikings see off Monkton

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HAKIN United picked up another win on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Monkton Swifts 3-1.

It was a physical encounter with both sides giving their all.

The Vikings took the lead after fourteen minutes as Camron Thomas crossed into the box and Mark Jones headed in to the top corner.

The visitors continued to create chances with Ben Aldred shooting wide while Shane Walsh volleyed over.

They held on to their lead until half time but they scored again on the hour mark.

Leon Luby whipped a cross into the box for Shane Walsh to knock in at the back post.

Monkton pulled a goal back just four minutes later as they broke from defence before the ball was played through for Dylan Davies who smashed an effort in off the underside of the bar.

The Swifts pushed for an equaliser but became susceptible to a counter attack.

With fifteen minutes to go Camron Thomas played the ball up to Ashley Bevan who held the ball before finding Luby who then beat two defenders before firing into the bottom right corner.

On Saturday, January 22, Hakin are at home to Hundleton while Monkton host Neyland.

Monkton Swifts: Taylor Gullam, Chris Richards, Rhodri Davies, Josh Richards, Shaun Donohoe, Declan Carroll, Blake James, Tom Powell, Dylan Davies, Jamie Wilkes, Jason Finnegan. Subs: Gareth Finnegan, Jack Clarke, Martyn Carroll.

Hakin United: Sam Franklin, Jake Merry, Camron Thomas, Jay Power, Mark Jones, Craig Nicholson, Justin Harding, Ben Aldred, Shane Walsh, Leon Luby, Jack Britton. Subs: Ryan Wilson, Laurie Haworth, Ashley Bevan.

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