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Merlins Bridge win West Wales Youth Plate



Report by Jonny Sutton

A GLORIOUSLY sunny day at Richmond Park, Carmarthen saw Merlins Bridge play off against Rhos in the West Wales Youth Plate

Having finished 3rd and 4th in their league campaigns, both teams supporters turned out in anticipation of a keenly contested match.

The pre match billing was accurate and the crowd were treated to an action packed match full of high quality football from both an attacking and defending viewpoint.

A cagey 1st 45 minutes ended nil nil with Rhos in control of the possession whilst Bridge probably had the best chance of the half.

Pacey winger Tom Mezzetta put, the usually lethal Striker, Fletcher Picton through 1 on 1. Picton never quite had complete control of the ball and although he got a shot away, the Rhos keeper pulled off a fine save.

At the other end the Bridge defence, consisting of full backs Tyler Sutton, Rhys Corney and Centre Halves Callum O’Riordan, Josh Silk and Henry Thomas, kept the Rhos attack at arms length.

Nil-nil at half time but on the hour the game swung in Rhos’ favour. A free kick on the left was swung into the box where the Rhos Centre Half Harvey Ranford headed the ball back across goal for Jacob Humphreys to power a close rang header home despite Bridge appeals for offside.

This was the moment that the Bridge youngsters would sink or swim, with tiring legs and bodies and up against a side who now had their heads up.

For the next 5 minutes it looked like Rhos would pinch a second as their confidence grew but then a 2nd wind came.

Bridge got classy midfielder Leon Davies on the ball more through the hard working trio behind him – Iwan Davies, George Morris and Skipper Harrison Goddard. With Davies starting to pull the strings half chances started to be created.

With 15 minutes to go a break from wingman Tomos Gwillam was stopped with a foul. From the resulting free kick, a wicked dipping ball into the box, was knocked home by the unfortunate Cole Shingler for an own goal. Bridge didn’t care who scored, they were level and chasing a winner.

With their heads up and attacking they almost snatched it near the death through Callum Rees but his left footed effort lacked the pace to beat the keeper.

The final few minutes of normal time saw Bridge defend a number of dangerous set pieces but they held out to take the game to extra time

As extra time started, both sets of fans finger nails were down to the bone as the game was swinging back and forth.

The energy levels by now had dropped and Bridge were finding space for their full backs to push into, left back Sutton started to get more of the ball and was constantly used as an outlet for Bridge to get forward.

Late in the second period of extra time another Rhos ball into the box was cleared off the line from Corney with the keeper stranded.

With the full time whistle going, players all over the pitch collapsed knowing they’d given everything and the lottery of penalties was going to decide the tie.

Rhos were now favourites having won a shootout to progress in the previous round whereas Bridge had lost their previous shootout earlier in the season in the West Wales Cup Semi Final

The first 10 penalties were all tucked away with the Bridge scorers Josh Silk, Henry Thomas, Tomos Gwillam, Iwan Davies and Fletcher Picton.

With the pressure ramping up and sudden death kicking in, Bridge flinched first with George Morris having his penalty saved by the Rhos Keeper.

This was the moment for Griffiths to step up and become the hero. Firstly saving the Rhos penalty to ensure another round of penalties and then, after Rhys Corney tucked his away, he repeated the feat again, saving low down to his left hand side and sending his team into ecstatic celebrations

For the team and coach Kevin Thomas it was a great way to end the season and bow out of Junior Football.

TEAM: Niall Griffiths, Tyler Sutton, Callum O’Riordan, Josh Silk, Rhys Corney, Henry Thomas, George Morris, Harrison Goddard, Callum Rees, Fletcher Picton, Tom Mezzetta. Subs: Leon Davies, Iwan Davies, Daniel Aghamelu, Iwan “Iwy” Davies, Tomos Gwillam.


New Radio series on remarkable rise of women’s football



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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A new era for sport and health tech innovation in Wales



SWANSEA UNIVERSITY has launched the National Network for Innovation In Sport and Health (NNIISH), a new initiative aimed at transforming the landscape of health and sport technology in Wales.

Led by the University and supported by Swansea Bay City Deal and local health boards, NNIISH aims to accelerate the growth of sport tech, med tech and healthcare innovation in the Swansea Bay City Region by bringing together local, national and multinational expertise.

NNIISH is set to be a constantly evolving, collaborative partnership between academia, industry and the NHS.  Its aim is to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new alliances, attracting talent and encouraging investment in order to boost the local economy and make Swansea a global leader in medical and sports technology innovation.   

Professor Keith Lloyd, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Science told Herald.Wales: “We are excited to introduce NNIISH, a groundbreaking initiative dedicated to enhancing sport and wellbeing across Wales and beyond. By fostering a community across sport, health and technology, we aim to drive forward innovative solutions that will revolutionise the sector.”

Anyone working in sports-tech, med-tech or healthcare who would like to be part of the NNIISH vision –to transform the landscape of health and sport technology in Wales – can sign up to the NNIISH mailing list now.  

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Pembrokeshire teenager to represent Wales in Golf – again!



JEMMA NAND-LALN, a talented 16-year-old golfer from Tenby, has once again been selected to represent Wales in the Wales Schools squad. This marks the second consecutive year Jemma will don the Welsh colors, a testament to her skill and determination on the golf course.

Jemma will compete against the England Schools team at Stoke Rochford Golf Club in Lincolnshire in early September. This opportunity comes as a significant boost for Jemma, who has recently recovered from major surgery over the winter. Her selection also follows her recognition as the top girl player in Dyfed for 2023.

Her journey reflects not only her personal resilience but also her unwavering commitment to the sport she loves. Jemma’s family, friends, and local supporters are all thrilled with her accomplishment and will be cheering her on as she competes at the national level.

Jemma Nand-Lal’s story is an inspiration to many young athletes, demonstrating that with hard work and dedication, overcoming obstacles and achieving great success is possible.

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