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Britton earns point in first game

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WITH all the talk of Brexit emanating in the bleak mid winter around the United Kingdom the irony wasn’t lost that Swansea City turned to a Britton on Saturday (Dec 23) in a bid to ensure they remain part of the lucrative Premier League.

After dismissing manager Paul Clement earlier in the week, 35 year old fan-favourite and former Club captain Leon Britton became the third manager in 11 months to take up the hot seat at the Liberty stadium, the sixth incumbent in two years. Passion, pride and tenacity are words used to describe Britton in his 452 club appearances and he at least ensured the side were motivated to play in this pre-Christmas fixture.

The industrious midfielder is a man small in stature but one with a lion’s heart clearly displayed on his sleeve and his side showed spirit to draw the game 1-1, in doing so taking a point from a fixture for the first time this season when they have conceded the game’s opening goal.  One swallow wouldn’t make a summer for the rock bottom Swans, who travel to Liverpool on Boxing Day but caretaker manager Britton knows points are a premium in ensuring Premier League survival come May.

Brexit champion Theresa May would draw strength from a man like Britton in her corner as he instilled a sense of belief from the fans and players, whilst the Swans board experienced some turbulence, directly to Huw Jenkins and American Directors Jason Levin and Steve Kaplan.

For the third season running a manager has departed the Liberty Stadium in December, Gary Monk in 2015, Bob Bradley last season and Clement with history telling us in 1914 Walter Whitaker lost his job as manager of the Swans and at least reminding us that football is unpredictable at best.

41 years in management, six longer than Britton has walked this earth and former England head honcho Roy Hodgson galvanised visitors Crystal Palace season after arriving at the Club in September.

With no points after the opening seven fixtures of the season, including a 2-0 loss to Swansea in August the Eagles from South London are now flying, unbeaten in nine games and out of the relegation zone with 18 points.

Luck plays a part and captain Frederico Fernandez gave away a clumsy penalty just before the hour mark, the third penalty conceded this week by Swansea and Luka Milivojević made no mistake for 1-0.

Swansea for this game had been playing the Swansea way, going ‘back to a being a Jack’ as they kept the ball, moved at pace and worked closely in areas of the field which allowed crosses to be supplied into the box.

Nathan Dyer, Martin Olsson and Kyle Naughton orchestrated the best moves where 85% of the 596 passes were accurate.

What was lacking, as it has been all season was the product with young striker Tammy Abraham isolated and lacking confidence to turn half chances into goals.

Dyer had a thirst to go hunting the ball and drew some treatment alongside Abraham from the Palace enforcers and despite some yuletide work from Tom Carroll the only festive song of note in the first half was the visitors rendition of ‘glad all over.’

Wilfred Zaha was a cut above those on the field as the Swansea crowd could appreciate a complete footballer but such is the passion in South Wales their enchantment for their own sides bravery and effort never wavered even after the Serbian struck with the penalty kick.

Britton stepped up to the plate and Jordan Ayew’s introduction after 64 minutes was the spark needed to ignite the flame.  The home side were more direct, testing goalkeeper Julian Speroni and chances arose much to the delight of the 20354 present.

The game was open, end to end which suited the Liberty faithful, safe in the knowledge Lukas Fabianski was untroubled in the home goal. The equaliser came with 12 minutes remaining, Ayew sending a flying James McArthur a Christmas cracker of a dummy, making quick yards to the edge of the penalty area and unleashing a right footed pile driver into the left hand corner for his first goal in 15 games.

‘Support the team not the regime’ was a mantra from the East stand which blasted out Hymns and Arias as the all whites were on the front foot but to no avail when referee Craig Pawson called a halt to the game after five minutes of added time.  Roll back time 12 months and Swansea were also bottom of the league, albeit they have one more point after Saturday than this time last season.

Post match Roy Hodgson spoke about how it “was going to take time to get back on an even keel” which his Palace side have achieved. Britton can take heart from that advice as he looks at exchanging his players passport to the ‘blue passport’ of management in time and perhaps trigger his own ‘article 50’.

He spoke himself about the Boxing Day trip to Anfield as “a brilliant moment for myself and my family” and the Swansea family know the importance of ensuring they remain in contact with the sides above them outside the relegation zone. A trip to Watford follows the Liverpool game before Tottenham arrive for the first game of the New Year, with Harry Kane, a man who has had more shots this season than Swansea’s entire team looking to emulate his 2017 record haul of 37 goals in a calendar year.

Nothing is easy in the Premier League but by the end of January the Swans may find themselves with some light at the end of the tunnel with a run of fixtures against Leicester, Burnley, Brighton, West Ham, Huddersfield and Southampton. If Palace can string together a nine game unbeaten run why can’t Swansea , although a wily Hodgson knows “there is a long way to go and it will be a scrap until the end of the season.”

Britton, or the man appointed to guide the Swans must enter the new year with the words of John Lennon’s ‘war is over’ ringing loudly to play ‘without any fear’.

Clement did it last season, picking up the January Manager of the month and there is no reason why it can’t happen again.

Raise a cup of good cheer in the hope of a prosperous New Year as without hope there is no life. Remember this is just football, a game that is more important than life and death according to one well known Scotsman who had a passport stamped across Europe.

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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