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Saints stun Felinfoel in extra time

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ST CLEARS booked their place in the third round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 6) as they beat Felinfoel 3-2 after extra time.

Felinfoel had not lost in any league or cup game prior to Saturday’s match but Nathan Evans’ goal gave the Saints an excellent win in tricky conditions.

Rain battered the pitch for much of the game but it did not dampen the spirits of the Felinfoel supporters who had come to support their team.

It was the Saints though who had the first real chance of the game as Nico Setaro sent Ashley Williams through on goal but his effort was well saved by Felinfoel keeper Anthony Andrews.

Sadly for Williams he was forced off moments later with an injury and was replaced by Steve Thomas.

Felinfoel then had a great chance to score as Chris James looped the ball over the defenders for Jordan Badman but his shot was beaten away by Saints keeper Jason Jones.

Nathan Evans and Ben John then linked up well down the right and they set up Jon Seeley but he saw his shot saved.

Goal: Chris James’ free kick flies into the net

With 26 minutes gone the visitors were awarded a free kick and James curled the ball superbly into the top corner of the net.

The Saints responded well to going behind as they won a corner. Evans sent the corner into the box and Nick Squire headed down towards goal but after his header was blocked the ball fell to Danny Peters who tried to turn the ball in. There were shouts for a penalty but the referee waved away the appeals.

David Owens then saw a shot saved for the visitors before James saw a header go wide.

At the other end John’s cross found Steve Evans but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and the ball was pushed out for a corner.

Nathan Evans took the resulting corner and Kyran Lewis ran in at the front post to smash a header home to level the game.

It was a deserved equaliser and they nearly took the lead just a minute into the second half but John’s long range effort was tipped over the bar.

Just four minutes later though Felinfoel were back in front. The Saints attempted to pass the ball out from the back but when Martin Thomas missed the ball, Tom Roberts took the ball and fired it into the bottom corner of the net.

Twenty minutes into the second half the Saints were level once more. Will Evans, who had only come on as a sub just a minute earlier, ran down the right and cut in from the byline and his cross hit the Felinfoel keeper and bounced just over the line before it was kicked away.

The Saints were now on top and they came close to scoring from a corner soon after. A shot was blocked wide for another corner but Saints players were convinced the ball had hit a hand. Their vehement protests were waved away by the referee.

There was another chance for Nathan Evans as a free kick was played short but his shot was blocked before being tipped over by the Felinfoel keeper.

Will Evans then cut inside from the right and curled the ball towards goal but he watched agonisingly as his effort went inches wide of the angle of crossbar and post.

He had another chance to win two minutes before the end when the ball fell to him at the back post but he shot into the side netting.

That was the last of the action in the 90 minutes and it meant extra time would be needed to separate the sides.

The home side had another penalty appeal waved away early on in the first period of extra time but neither were able to find a goal.

In the second period of extra time, Steven Evans played in Nathan Evans whose shot from the edge of the box went in off the post.

Felinfoel looked for a late goal which would have taken the game to penalties but James saw a free kick go over the bar.

Nicky Morgan then won a free kick for the away side wide on the left, despite Jason Baxter appearing to get the ball, but they were unable to find the net.

Craig Lewis saw a shot go wide for Felinfoel who then sent up keeper Andrews for the resulting corner.

However, they were unable to score as the Saints held on for an excellent win.

Will Evans looks on as his shot goes just over

News

Gareth Southgate resigns as England manager following Euro final

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In a significant turn of events, England manager Gareth Southgate has stepped down just two days after England’s 2-1 defeat to Spain in the 2024 European Championship final in Berlin. This marks England’s second consecutive Euros final loss, having been beaten on penalties by Italy at Wembley three years prior.

Southgate, 53, who led the national team in 102 matches over his eight-year tenure, was due to see his contract expire later this year. In a heartfelt statement, he expressed his deep pride in having served his country: “As a proud Englishman, it has been the honour of my life to play for England and to manage England. It has meant everything to me, and I have given it my all. But it’s time for change, and for a new chapter.”

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham announced that the process to find Southgate’s successor is underway, aiming for a swift appointment. He assured that an interim solution is in place if required and that there would be no further comments until a new manager is named.

England’s next fixture is against the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League on 7 September. FA sources have indicated that the selection process is unlikely to be restricted to English managers alone. Potential candidates include Under-21 boss Lee Carsley for an interim role, Newcastle’s Eddie Howe, former Brighton and Chelsea manager Graham Potter, ex-Chelsea and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, as well as speculations around ex-Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, who left Bayern Munich last season.

Southgate’s tenure was notable, as he became the only England manager besides 1966 World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey to lead the team to a major tournament final. He guided England through four major tournaments, including the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the quarter-finals in 2022. Under his leadership, England won nine knockout matches, a significant improvement from the six won in the 50 years prior.

Despite his successes, Southgate faced mounting pressure this summer, with many fans critical of his utilisation of England’s talented attacking players. The tension peaked when supporters expressed their discontent following a goalless draw against Slovenia in the Euro 2024 group stage. However, he regained some support during England’s run to the final.

Reflecting on his time, Southgate praised the current squad: “The squad we took to Germany is full of exciting young talent and they can win the trophy we all dream of. We have the best fans in the world, and their support has meant the world to me. I’m an England fan and I always will be.”

Prince William, the FA president, commended Southgate for his leadership, saying: “Thank you for showing humility, compassion, and true leadership under the most intense pressure and scrutiny. And thank you for being an all-round class act. You should be incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved.”

Tributes also poured in from players, with Declan Rice and Jordan Pickford expressing their gratitude for Southgate’s guidance and support.

Southgate, who replaced Sam Allardyce in 2016, concluded with a message of thanks to his players and staff, singling out assistant Steve Holland as “one of the most talented coaches of his generation.” Reflecting on his journey, he stated, “I joined the FA in 2011, determined to improve English football. I hope we get behind the players and the team at St George’s Park and the FA who strive every day to improve English football, and understand the power football has to drive positive change.”

Bullingham lauded Southgate for making “the impossible job possible” and laying strong foundations for future success. He added, “Over the last eight years they have transformed the England men’s team, delivering unforgettable memories for everyone who loves the Three Lions. We look back at Gareth’s tenure with huge pride – his contribution to the English game, including a significant role in player development, and in culture transformation has been unique.”

As the search for a new manager begins, Southgate’s departure marks the end of a remarkable chapter in English football, one that brought hope, pride, and a renewed belief in the Three Lions.

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News

The Three Welsh athletes that featured at Wimbledon

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IN A HISTORIC moment for Welsh tennis, three Welsh athletes competed in various events over the two-week duration of Wimbledon 2024. Mimi Xu (16) and Viktor Frydrych (18) showcased their talents in Junior Wimbledon, while Niall Pickerd-Barua (13) made his debut in the 14-and-under invitational event.

Mimi Xu from Swansea reached the finals of the girls’ doubles alongside fellow Brit Mika Stojsavljevic (15). The pair impressively knocked out the number 1 seeds in the quarter-finals and won all but one match in straight sets. This was the first time Xu and Stojsavljevic teamed up for a Grand Slam event.

The duo narrowly missed the title, losing in the final to the Australian Open Girls’ Doubles Champions Tyra Caterina Grant and Iva Jovic, with scores of 5-7, 6-4, [8-10]. An emotional Xu thanked the Wimbledon crowds and her team for their support throughout the event.

Xu also competed in the girls’ singles event, advancing to the second round before being defeated by Hungary’s Rositsa Dencheva.

Viktor Frydrych from Bangor played his final Junior Wimbledon, reaching the quarter-finals in the boys’ doubles with his Norwegian teammate Nicolai Budkov Kjaer (17).

In the singles event, Frydrych started strong, winning the first set 6-1 in the first round. However, multiple rain delays disrupted the match, and his opponent came back to win the next two sets 2-6, 2-6.

Frydrych now looks forward to concluding his junior career and transitioning to a full-time professional career.

Mika Stojsavljevic of Great Britain and Mingge Xu of Great Britain pose with the Girl’s Doubles Runner-Up Trophies. (Photo: Daniel Kopatsch)

Niall Pickerd-Barua, the current U14 British champion, made his Wimbledon debut in the 14-and-under event. Pickerd-Barua played four matches, competing against players from Brazil, Japan, and America in a round-robin format. In the playoff stage, Pickerd-Barua was eliminated in a close match by Johann Nagel-Heyer (13), with scores of 6-2, 5-7, [8-10].

Following Wimbledon, the Junior World Rankings place Xu in 9th position, just two places behind British Junior number 1, Hannah Klugman (15). Frydrych now sits at 40th in the boys’ rankings, Still being comfortably in the top 50.

Both Xu and Frydrych are set to compete in the Junior US Open next month.

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Entertainment

New Radio series on remarkable rise of women’s football

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FROM hand-me-downs to heroes, a new three-part show celebrates the incredible growth of women’s football in Wales

BBC Radio Wales has today announced a new series Iconic: The Rise of the Women in Red, documenting the rise of women’s football in Wales. 

Presented by Jess Fishlock, Wales’ most capped footballer, the series offers an unprecedented look into the evolution of women’s football from its humble beginnings to its current status as a sporting phenomenon. With exclusive access to the Football Association of Wales (FAW), the series features in-depth interviews with prominent figures in the sport, including Welsh captain Sophie Ingle and midfield star Angharad James.

The series delves into the early days of women’s football when players wore hand-me-down kits from the men’s teams and played in front of modest crowds. It tells of the struggles of those who paved the way for the current generation of female footballers, to the present day where thousands of fans flock to stadiums to watch women’s football, and even more tune in to the television and radio coverage.

Jess Fishlock says, “I’m really excited that our story’s finally getting told and people can see how far this game has gone but also what has been sacrificed to get us to where we are right now in the women’s game.”

Carolyn Hitt, Head of BBC Radio Wales says “The series highlights how more women and girls than ever before are taking up the sport – as fans and as players.  It really showcases the FAW’s efforts to foster this growth and support the women’s game at all levels.  Jess Fishlock’s unique perspective and engaging storytelling brings to life the triumphs, challenges, and aspirations of the team whilst also providing a candid look at the professional journeys of these women.”

Sue Butler, Managing Editor, BBC Wales Sport, says “In the run-up to these crucial play-offs for UEFA Women’s Euro 2025, the series is a timely celebration of the progress and potential of Welsh women’s football. It will inspire and energize fans and players alike as the national team prepares for one of its most significant challenges yet.”

This three-part series will premiere on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Sounds this October.

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