OLD GOLD RALLY TO CLAIM POINT
ABERYSTWYTH TOWN ....... 1 CARMARTHEN TOWN ........ 1
HAVING at last managed their first away victory of the season at Llandudno two weeks ago, Carmarthen travelled to Aberystwyth hoping to secure three more valuable points that would keep them clear of the Welsh Premier League relegation zone.
But after a thoroughly entertaining display of fast-paced football, these old rivals deservedly shared the points, just as they had done at Richmond Park in September.
The Old Gold produced a remarkable opening spell of attacking football and twice went close to taking an early lead. After just two minutes Luke Bowen headed the ball towards Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area where it was cleared by a defender, but Luke Cummings collected the loose ball and struck a stunning 25-yard drive that keeper Terry McCormick turned around the post at full stretch.
Cummings was involved again when he fired a delightful pass into the area to find Mael Davies. He headed the ball to Jordan Vickers and his powerful shot was punched clear by McCormick.
But the Seasiders soon began to demonstrate why they are the WPL’s form team, having won their last five matches.
They soon began to dominate midfield and in the 10th minute they took the lead when Wes Baynes sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth and Declan Walker arrived with perfect timing to plant his close-range header firmly past Town keeper Lee Idzi.
And they went close to extending that lead when Ashley Ruane capitalised on Dave Vincent’s hesitancy on the ball on the edge of the area, only to see his volley kept out by a pointblank reaction save by Idzi.
Aberystwyth continued to control the midfield and put the visiting defence under pressure, yet the Old Gold’s experienced back-line of Lee Surman, Vincent and Jordan Knott looked sound and secure and capably resisted any serious threat to their goal.
Alan Goodall saw his fierce volley fly wide of the goal, then a Baynes cross from the right touchline found Paolo Mendes in space, but he sent his close-range header over the bar.
Whatever instructions Carmarthen manager Neil Smothers gave to his players at half-time it certainly made a huge difference as after the interval the balance of play changed significantly as the Old Gold began to dominate proceedings.
A Cummings drive from the wide edge of the area flew across the packed goalmouth but went narrowly beyond the far post.
However, they levelled in the 55th minute. Davies made progress along the left before sliding a neat pass to Sean Hanbury, who from the corner of the area fired the ball towards the far side of the goalmouth where Luke Bowen struck a volley, and while this was blocked by Aber defender Steffan Edwards, the referee awarded a penalty having deemed that the ball had been handled.
Town’s top scorer Liam Thomas confidently drove the spot-kick into the corner of the net.
Spurred on by that success, the visitors poured upfield with even greater purpose, driven to a notable extent by the energy and vision of midfielders Davies, Cummings and Declan Carroll.
Their next chance came when Knott fired a long cross into the area where Bowen, in space, struck a powerful volley narrowly over the bar.
The match continued in a fairly uneventful fashion, with the Old Gold frequently driving forward in search of a winning goal but failing to penetrate the resolute home defence in any meaningful way. Aber, meanwhile, managed a few occasional counter-attacks, none of which gave Carmarthen’s defence any real cause for concern.
Indeed, the only notable opportunity during the closing stages came in the 89th minute when Carroll dispatched an angled drive that McCormick superbly turned around the post.
The Old Gold can temporarily put aside their concerns about their WPL position and concentrate on progress in the Welsh Cup as on Saturday they travel to Welsh League side Goytre United. TEAM: L Idzi; M Davies; D Vincent; L Surman; J Knott; D Carroll; L Cummings; C Morgan (sub S Hanbury 46); J Vickers (sub C Hanford 75); L Bowen; L Thomas.
Caerbryn Reserves’ Leighton Price moves in on Bancffosfelen Reserves’ Carl Gabrielson in the Carmarthenshire League. Picture: Phil Davies.