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Cooke’s classy strike denies Goodwick

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THE first midweek evening games in the Division 1 title race threw together an interesting conjuncture on Tuesday (Mar 27) as West Wales Cup finalists and current league leaders were held to a 2-2 draw by Senior Cup Finalists Clarbeston Road.

With two of the chasing pack, Merlins Bridge and Hakin United due to meet at the Racecourse, the postponement because of a waterlogged pitch at 3pm sees the Phoenix Lads still in pole position after a performance that lacked any zest and panache, which they have shown in recent weeks.

The game saw the hosts have five changes from their side, with prolific striker Jason Griffiths missing but it had little impact as they played with gusto and no small measure of guile to outwit and out battle a Goodwick side who had five players with Welsh Premier League experience and a clutch of others destined to reach such heights if their desire remains.

Player Manager Matthew Ellis and his central midfield sidekick Mike Turpin won the key battle ground nullifying the influence of Chris O’Sullivan and skipper Adam Raymond, Ellis pulling passes over a variety of distances allowing young striker Steffan Thomas and Matthew Davies a free reign to torment the Goodwkick back line.

The opening goal came midway through the opening period when Davies was felled in the penalty area by centre half Scott Delaney, referee Alan Boswell having little hesitation in pointing to the spot and Davies, a battling throne all night, dusted himself down to drive a thunderous effort beyond James Gwilt.

An equaliser came on the stroke of half time, goalkeeper Lee Scott having made an outstanding save minutes earlier from a Jordan Griffiths header, O’Sullivan delivering a free kick deep to the far post and it was headed back across the six yard line by Delaney for midfielder Kieran O’Brien to head home, giving his side some momentum and direction going into the second half.

Neither side could effectively influence the play to take the game by the horns, Goodwick superior in terms of possession and territory but failing to create the clear cut chance they needed as young full back Josh Wood and centre half Tom Glover repelled the attacks.

The outlet for Goodwick was Lee Hudgell, the former Haverfordwest wideman receiving balls into feet or through the inside left channel, his endeavour on the back of a brace of goals on Saturday, delivering a cross into the home penalty box after 53 minutes which saw a richote fall to the feet of fellow winger Johnny Horgan, whose right foot shoot, whilst not cleanly struck found the back of Lee Scott’s net for a 2-1 lead.

The game was one which referee Boswell had to work hard at to keep the lid on as tackles, abrasive challenges were judged on their merits, although questioned from both sides, Hudgell and O’Sullivan having half chances which didn’t fall their way.

Goodwick were enjoying a period of play deep in the Clarby half, striving for the third goal which would have ended the contest but carelessly saw Raymond surrender possession and full back Wood went marauding away to find Ellis in the ‘Quarter Back’ position.

The player manager found the feet of Thomas from 45 metres, his effort stemmed before the ball fell to winger Ieuan Cooke. He cut in from the left touchline, dropped his shoulder to create a pocket of space and drove a curling shot beyond a grasping Gwilt into the top corner for an equaliser fitting of any occasion.

Goodwick were rocked and momentum lost, Hudgell yellow carded for a cynical trip as Wood broke away, his side perhaps finding the emotional rollercoaster they have been on in recent weeks difficult to comprehend against a side willing and able to meet them toe to toe.

Substitute Rhys Dalling made an appearance for Goodwick alongside Matty Delaney and Steven Dockerty, all three adding some bounce, Dalling creating half chances and spurning an effort when he created an opportunity to shoot with ten minutes remaining as Clarby veteran Dan Rees was summoned from work to make an appearance at the heart of defence.

Clarby were incandescent that striker Thomas was called back when he had wriggled free to go one on one with Gwilt after a foul by Wayne O’Sullivan, the Goodwick followers also hollering for a free kick when young Delaney was on the receiving end of a strong challenge from Glover, Matty’s elder brother Scott talking himself into Boswell’s notebook for his vociferous commentary.

The game ended with in the gloomy evening air with a nervous tension amongst the Goodwick eyes as they await Merlins Bridge arrival, possibly without O’Sullivan who went off carrying his shoulder and knowing their performance was below par for their high standards, perhaps lethargic be it due to physical or probably mental fatigue.

Clarbeston Road are playing with a style and flair which sees them enjoying their football, much to the pleasure of the village faithfull out in support. Competition for places is key and with a second consecutive cup final appearance looming on Saturday (Apr 21) the one club not one team ethos shines through.

Elsewhere in the division on Tuesday evening, Carew put six past a hapless Angle outfit who have conceded 30 goals now in their last three outings without reply, Jack and Sam Christopher scoring for the Rooks alongside Iwan Izzard, Scott Fearney, Jordan Richards and Zac Rowell.

The Pembroke derby game saw striker Sam Soutcott return to his former club and score a brace for Pennar Robins, livewire midfielder Billy Davies and Jason Evans replying for the Stags. Monkton Swifts moved into second place a point behind Goodwick, although they have player four more fixtures, winning 3-2 at Marble Hall against Milford United.

Both teams have Welsh league pedigree before they relinquished their positions in the new millennium, the Robins now nine points from safety and securing their divisional status next season, with just six games remaining. Lewis Tee and Liam Parr found the back of the net for the home side, Matthew Davies, Ryan Griffiths and Sean Jones seeing the Swifts home to victory.

Sport

Lawrenny earn big win over Whitland

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LAWRENNY got their 2021 season off to the perfect start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Whitland by 189 runs.

Whitland won the toss and elected to field but they could only watch as the home side piled on the runs before being bowled out for 264.

Kyle Marsh top scored with a score of 81 while Kurtis Mars also scored 45.

Tom Cole added 32 and James Phillips chipped in with a score of 29 as they batted well.

Wayne Howells and Jonathan Thomas finished with identical figures of 2-27 as Whitland’s bowling did at least keep the score below 300.

Whitland knew they would need to bat well to knock off the runs needed but came up against Ryan Morton who took four wickets for the loss of 17 runs.

Kurtis Marsh also claimed two wickets without conceding any runs as the visitors chances got smaller and smaller.

Geraint Jones did score 30 for Whitland but that was as good as it got as they were bowled out for just 75.

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Sport

Town earn comfortable win against Narberth

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HAVERFORDWEST got their season off to a good start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Narberth by by 104 runs.

Narberth won the toss but elected to field first which would ultimately be a decision that would come back to haunt them.

The Town almost reached 200 runs, finishing their innings on 187-8.

Dai Davies top scored for the home side with a knock of 70 which included six fours and one six. He shared a third wicket stand of 49 with Mickey Jones.

Jones hit five fours in his knock of 46 before being caught off the bowling of Louis Hough.

Ben Hughes then had Ben Field caught by Hough to leave Town on 86-4.

Davies was joined in the middle by Jake Merry and the pair shared another good stand, worth 74 runs for the fifth wicket.

However, Merry fell for 32 and soon after Davies was out on 70 as Narberth hit back.

Ben Quartermaine picked up two late wickets as they were able to restrict their hosts to under 200.

Narberth’s opening pair shared 36 runs as they made a good start to their innings but wickets began to fall in quick succession and the 2019 Division 2 Champions were soon 36-4.

Jordan Howell scored 18 but he was his side’s top scorer as Will Phillips took four wickets for the loss of 15 runs for Town.

Ben Quartermaine scored 17 but he fell to Clive Tucker who went on to finish with figures of 3-15.

There was also two wickets for Dai Davies as Town bowled Narberth out for just 83.

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Sport

Carew prove too strong for Tish

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CAREW’s Iori Hicks picked up a five-wicket haul on Saturday (May 1) to help his side to victory over St Ishmaels.

Tish won the toss but elected to field first and that gave the visitors the chance to build a good total.

They made a steady start, reaching 40-1 after the first 11 overs. They made a series of 32-run partnerships as opening bat Brian Hall made his way to a half century.

Lewis Hicks made a score of 24 before he was bowled by Andrew Pawlett but when Shaun Whitfield was caught by Peter Bradshaw off the bowling of Jonathan Pawlett, the visitors had slipped to 92-4.

Hall and James Hinchcliffe then shared a stand worth 45 runs for the fifth wicket as they looked to accelerate the score.

Hinchcliffe was caught off the bowling of Andrew Pawlett on a score of 19. Hall was joined by Luke Hicks and the pair shared another good stand.

Hall reached his half century but was then caught by Andrew Pawlett off the bowling of Brennan Devonald on a score of 52, leaving Carew on 176-6.

Hicks then took over as he thumped three sixes in a score of 35 but he was then run out.

Iori Hicks and Ceri Brace both finished unbeaten with a six to their name as Tish were set 202 to win the game.

However, their reply did not get off to the best of starts as they lost three wickets in quick succession, all to the bowling of Rhys Davies, leaving them on 15-3.

They faced an uphill task from then on but Harry Nicholas and Brennan Devonald did their best to get their side back in the contest.

They shared 46 for the fourth wicket but then saw Devonald caught off the bowling of Whitfield on a score of 41.

Tish were not out of the game though as Nicholas was joined by Jonathan Pawlett and the pair shared 63 runs for the fifth wicket.

Nicholas reached his half century but was then out on a score of 51 and Pawlett was out to Iori Hicks on a score of 37.

Hicks then took over matters as he picked up four further wickets, including two ducks, to finish with figures of 5-15.

It meant that Tish were bowled out for 154.

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