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Record-breaking City too strong for Swans

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By Jonathan Twigg

EXPECTATION wasn’t one of those words which was running closely to Swansea’s hearts as the side, rock bottom of the Premier League welcomed table topping Manchester City to the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday (Dec 13), with anything short of a superhuman performance could prevent a landmark fifteenth consecutive win for City.

Swansea had overcome West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in a dour fixture three day before at the same venue and the home side started the game based on a strong defensive organisation, making the swashbuckling City line up look for space between the stoic lines.

Half chances came and were wasted by a jaded visiting offensive unit, perhaps the emotion of the weekends Manchester derby hanging over them?

The Swans had acceded to allowing music in the changing room, a gesture which wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by mercurial leader Pep Guardiola, where Oasis were charged with pumping up the volume.

There was no storm in a tea cup here and the normal football service resumed just before the half hour when Silva ghosted into the penalty area unnoticed to put City on course for that record breaking win, removing the Spurs record which had stood since 1961 to the annals of time, though few will forget the late, great manager Bill Nicholson’s tenure at White Hart Lane.

Ten minutes before half time a Kevin De Bruyne free kick from the left hand corner of the penalty area doubled the lead when he shot through a plethora of bodies to leave Fabianski grasping at thin air.

37 years ago to the day a famous Welsh talisman made his debut for the then league champions Liverpool, at Portman Road, Ipswich and how the all whites could do with such an icon these days.

They have an abundance of effort which was encouraging for the home support, but the difference in quality between the two sides was evident telling its own story in terms of league position.

The mantra instilled through ‘Pep’ allows his side to play with confidence but more importantly without fear which forced errors from a Swansea side guilty at times of sloppy defending.

A sprightlier second half from Swansea came courtesy of Tammy Abraham, the on loan Chelsea striker making an immediate impact off the bench for Tom Carroll, with his pace to worry a normally composed central defensive partnership of Mangala and Otamendi.

The spirt shown didn’t last, with the visiting fans singing ‘glad all over’ to their manager, watching the diminutive Silva slip through from the left hand side of the penalty area to make it 3-0.

Football is to be appreciated, with the movement, skills and desire to work as a team epitomising a side with a willingness to win, for each other but more importantly the team.

City were human, Aguero wasting a gilt edged opportunity when he was clear with a four on two overlap, whilst Ederson made a wonderful reflex save from a deflective shot from Mesa to keep the score line 3-0.

Fabianski was on top form and without him the City would have been home and dry long before Aguero, a man for match winning occasions notably a 2015 championship strike in injury time, drove with determination to leave a wake of several trailing bodies to score a fourth with five minutes remaining.

In contrast Ki Sing-Yeung’s body shape didn’t give him the freedom to pull a consolation goal back for his beleaguered side, who remain bottom of the Premier League, adrift of safety by two points.

The match statistics show the dominance, with nearly five times the number of shots rifling forth under the ‘blue moon’ and each pass greeted with a continuum of ‘ole’.

Swansea have a long way to go in the season where one swallow doesn’t make a summer and the important message for Paul Clement is one of keeping the faith as he has 20,870 loyal backbenchers believing in him.

He takes his side to Merseyside twice in the next 12 days with a dogfight at home against fellow relegation candidates Crystal Palace on Saturday (Dec23) sandwiched between.

They end the year travelling to Vicarage Road to play Watford with the hope they will have gleaned close to eighteen points before Tottenham Hotspur arrive at the Liberty to start the New Year.

Hope reigns eternal that 2018 will be a better one for Swansea as without hope the reliance of Father Christmas bringing some fortune hangs above the managers’ head. Mistletoe, that gift is not where the minimum is a cup of good cheer.

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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Sport

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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Sport

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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