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Vikings and Wizards lock horns in West Wales Cup semi

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TONIGHT (March 26), Hakin United will take on rivals Merlins Bridge in the semi-final of the West Wales Cup at the Bridge Meadow stadium in Haverfordwest.

It will be the latest chapter in a long rivalry between the two clubs but with a place in the final up for grabs this one is going to be extra special.

Merlins Bridge won a thrilling game between the two sides earlier in the season 4-3 at the Racecourse but Hakin will be looking to exact some revenge for that defeat.

The Wizards are having a strong season with just one league defeat to their name, against leaders Monkton Swifts, and are also in the final of the Senior Cup, having also beat Hakin on their way.

Hakin United sit five points behind their opponents in the table after three defeats in their fourteen games so far.

It will be another exciting and close game between the two teams and one that is not to be missed.

The Vikings have been in five finals, winning it three times, including once in the 50s when it was called the Amateurs Cup.

Merlins Bridge have been in the semi-finals twice but have never reached the final and they will be hoping to make it third time lucky.

Route to the final

They began their run to the last four with a 1-0 win away to Kilvey Fords in October with Will Haworth grabbing the only goal to send them through to round 2.

The Wizards were again drawn away from home to last season’s beaten finalists Penlan Club but they again came back with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Joe Leahy.

In the third round Merlins Bridge played Monkton Swifts and two goals from Nathan Greene and another from Leahy gave them a 3-0 win.

Leahy and Greene were at it again in the fourth round as they both scored to earn the Wizards a 2-1 win over Swansea side Llandarcy.

Merlins Bridge were drawn at home to Plough Colts in the last eight and earned a 5-2 win with Adam Hawkins scoring twice and other goals from Leahy, Greene and Dai Davies.

Leahy and Greene have both been on the scoresheet in each round from the third round and Hakin will do well to keep these two quiet.

The Vikings played Llandeilo in the first round and came away with a 5-2 thanks to a hat trick from Cameron Thomas and other goals from Shane Walsh and Nicky Woodrow.

Woodrow then scored four for the Vikings in round 2 as he helped his side thrash Milford United 12-2. Justin Harding, Mark Jones and Ryan Wilson all scored twice in that game alongside others from Shane Walsh and Adam John.

Hakin played Morriston Town in the third round and earned a 3-0 win thanks to a Woodrow hat trick.

In the fourth round, Hakin needed extra time to get past St Josephs as two goals from Justin Harding and another from Walsh saw them through.

In the quarter final they were drawn against holders Goodwick United and came from behind to win 3-1 thanks to two goals from Woodrow and one from Ryan Wilson.

Justin Harding and Nicky Woodrow have both been in good scoring from in the Cup and they will likely prove a handful for the Bridge defence.

What they say

The Herald asked both camps for their thoughts on the game and here is what they had to say.

Hakin United manager Kristian Bennet said: “It’s going to be a battle! It is a big pitch and it will be a big occasion so it should be a cracker. The players are looking forward to it with it being one step from the Liberty.”

Merlins Bridge boss Matthew D’Ivry said: “It’s going to be a tough one, I have been with the club for fifteen years but we’ve never been in the West Wales final in that time. We’ve had a hell of a draw against Penlan, who were favourites, who we beat to zero, and we then beat Monkton, Kilvey and Llandarcy.

“It will be strange playing Hakin but we know their qualities but we are confident that if we perform to our capabilities no one in west Wales can beat us. The (Senior Cup semi-final) result will give us confidence but we will have to be careful of being over-confident.

“It’s massive for both clubs but I am confident our boys will give absolutely everything.”

The final will take place at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Tuesday, May 7.

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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