IT’S A FINE DAY’S WORK FOR REDS
LLANELLI TOWN.................2 LLANDUDNO........................1
SATURDAY’S basement battle between Llanelli Town and visitors Llandudno turned out to be a very satisfactory afternoon for the Reds.
As well as opening up a four-point gap between themselves and their visitors at the foot of the Welsh Premier table courtesy of a brace by James Loveridge, the two teams immediately above them, Carmarthen Town and Cefn Druids, both lost, closing the points gap to five and six respectively.
Four new players made their debuts for the Reds, although three of them – Scott Coughlan, Lee Bevan and Luke Morgan – are all ex-Reds. But the signing of Swansea City legend Leon Britton is probably the biggest coup the club has made and is a tremendous morale-booster, both to the team and the Welsh Premier League.
His vast experience playing at the highest level may be the spur the Reds need to extricate themselves from their present predicament.
Llandudno, too, have been busy in the transfer window, bringing in Les Davies, Ryan Wade and Zebb Edwards, who were all named in the starting line-up at Stebonheath Park.
They North Walians were the first to threaten when a Toby Jones corner was headed against the bar by George Harry before the danger was cleared.
A run by Harry up the middle saw him unleash a shot which Coughlan dealt with comfortably, but he earned his reward on 12 minutes by putting the visitors ahead, meeting a ball into him on the half-volley before turning and beating the home keeper.
The hosts were struggling to establish a foothold in the game and were hard pressed at times to contain their opponents, typified when Mark Connolly sent Harry clear up the right and his delivery into the goalmouth could have gone anywhere, but deflected away for a corner.
The Reds began to get to grips with proceedings, and Kurtis March fired wide from a Jordan Davies assist, before they levelled matters on the half hour through Loveridge, who seized on a pass by Chris Jones to beat goalkeeper Shaun Pearson inside his near post
The home striker went close again shortly after, seeing his finish flash fractionally wide, while Davies failed to make a clean connection when he was found in the box.
But within seven minutes of the equaliser Loveridge struck again when he received a pass from Davies, before once again beating the Llandudno keeper with a well-taken finish.
The Reds again had to withstand some early pressure after the restart, when Telor Williams, who had replaced Zyaac Edwards at half-time, forced Coughlan into a save when he met a cross into the middle.
Joe Clarke then sent Loveridge clear up the right but his final ball across the face of goal sailed just beyond the back post.
The next home threat arose when Scott Tancock burst through the middle and his fierce shot was parried away by Pearson; Clarke met the rebound, only for a timely block to relieve the danger.
The visitors retaliated through Jones, whose delightful delivery sent Alun Webb clear on a run down the right flank. He cut inside but dragged his finish across the net and wide.
The Reds goal was surviving some close calls but somehow it held out, with Bevan a rock at the back, and when they countered, Loveridge, who was having an outstanding match, twice almost added to his tally.
The visitors might well have levelled matters shortly before the end when a corner by Jones found Davies, but he directed his header inches wide from a good position.
The home side hung on to clinch three precious points, and now face a visit to The New Saints next Saturday evening for their final game prior to the mid-season split. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.
Llanelli Town’s James Loveridge celebrates his second goal against Llandudno. Picture: Keith Griffiths.