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Sport

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’.

News

Free disability sports event heads to Pembroke Leisure Centre

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PEMBROKE Leisure Centre will play host to a free disability sports and physical event later this month with lots of sports and activities to try.

The insport series, in partnership with Disability Sport Wales, Sport Pembrokeshire and Pembrokeshire Leisure is an inclusive sport and physical activity event.

It offers opportunities for disabled young people (ages 5 years+) and adults across Pembrokeshire and friends and family are welcome.

On offer to try are: boxing, boccia, swimming (on a separate first come first serve booking basis), football, wheelchair rugby, target shooting, adaptive bikes, cricket, golf, multisport, and more.

The event takes place Pembroke Leisure Centre, on Wednesday May 29th between 10am-2pm.  

Booking for the event and swim places is required.

For more information please contact: Jess West from Sport Pembrokeshire byemail [email protected] or by calling 07795305871.

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News

Two changes to Scarlets side for Zebre match-up

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HEAD coach Dwayne Peel has made two changes to his Scarlets starting XV for Friday’s BKT United Rugby Championship round 17 clash with Zebre Parma at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (19:35 BBC Wales).

Alex Craig has recovered from a hamstring issue to take his place in the second row, while behind the scrum Ioan Lloyd replaces fellow Wales international Sam Costelow at fly-half.

Ioan Nicholas, Tomi Lewis and Ryan Conbeer continue in the back three; Johnny Williams again partners Eddie James, while Lloyd links up with the experienced Gareth Davies at half-back.

In the pack, the front row of Kemsley Mathias, skipper Ryan Elias and Harri O’Connor get the nod to start again. Craig partners Morgan Jones at lock, while Taine Plumtree, Dan Davis and No. 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu are selected in the back row.

On the bench, Wales U20s centre Macs Page – part of Llandovery’s Indigo Premiership title-winning side last weekend – is set to make his URC debut.

Scarlets scrum and contact skills coach Emyr Phillips said: “We are looking to build some momentum in these last two games to fire us into pre-season. We are encouraging the boys to play high-tempo rugby and get the ball moving because that’s when we are at our best. We know Zebre will bring emotion to the game and we need to match that.”

Scarlets team to play Zebre Parma at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Friday, May 17 (19:35; BBC Wales)

15 Ioan Nicholas; 14 Tomi Lewis, 13 Johnny Williams, 12 Eddie James, 11 Ryan Conbeer; 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Kemsley Mathias, 2 Ryan Elias (capt), 3 Harri O’Connor, 4 Alex Craig, 5 Morgan Jones, 6 Taine Plumtree, 7 Dan Davis, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu.

Reps: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Jarrod Taylor, 20 Ben Williams, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Macs Page

Players unavailable because of injury

Tom Rogers, Sam Lousi, Vaea Fifita, Steff Evans, Joe Roberts, Josh Macleod, Teddy Leatherbarrow, Jac Davies.

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Charity football match scores big for mental health awareness

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IN an inspiring display of community spirit and sportsmanship on Friday (May 10), the Ogi Bridge Meadow stadium hosted a charity football match that saw local mental health charity, Give The Boys A Lift (GTBAL), triumph over 2Wish, with a final score of 5-1. The event drew a large crowd, who gathered to support both organizations dedicated to mental health and well-being.

GTBAL, a renowned Pembrokeshire charity known for its efforts in mental health advocacy, put on a strong performance, leading to a decisive victory that was met with enthusiastic applause and cheers from the spectators. The match not only provided an evening of thrilling sports action but also raised significant awareness and funds for the causes represented by the two teams.

Maria Elena Smith, a spectator and supporter, praised the event, commenting, “Amazing effort from everyone involved. As always, the charities that support so many families and individuals have come out in force. Well done all and thank you for all the support.”

Adrian Smith, another attendee, highlighted the importance of the charities’ work, stating, “Don’t underestimate what both these charities do. It was a fantastic evening raising awareness.”

The event served as a reminder of the vital role these organizations play in the community, offering support and resources to those facing mental health challenges. Congratulations to all involved for a successful event that went beyond just a game, fostering community unity and support for pivotal causes.

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