Llanelli Star - - Soccer -

CAR­MARTHEN Town pro­gressed to the fourth round of the JD Welsh Cup with an ul­ti­mately com­fort­able vic­tory over Goytre United.

But they were made to work hard by the Welsh League side and only se­cured their progress thanks to three mo­ments of clin­i­cal fin­ish­ing by ex­pe­ri­enced strik­ers Luke Bowen and Liam Thomas.

The Port Tal­bot side started strongly and al­most took an early lead when Joe Hopkins’s spec­u­la­tive long-range shot skid­ded un­pre­dictably off the sat­u­rated turf, catch­ing Lee Idzi by sur­prise and forc­ing the ex­pe­ri­enced keeper to bun­dle the ball clum­sily around the post.

But the Welsh Premier League side soon set­tled into their stride and took the lead in the 16th minute fol­low­ing a brief spell of pres­sure. It came from a Luke Cum­mings cor­ner, which was met by Bowen and he planted his close-range header past keeper Luke Martin.

Goytre re­sponded with a se­ries of counter-at­tacks, but Town’s ex­pe­ri­enced back line of Lee Sur­man, Dave Vin­cent and Jor­dan Knott were in com­mand­ing form and re­sisted any se­ri­ous threat to their goal.

Mean­while, Car­marthen’s strik­ers

GOYTRE UTD ....................... 0 CAR­MARTHEN TOWN ........ 3

were al­ways an avail­able out­let, us­ing their pace and mo­bil­ity to keep the home de­fend­ers fully oc­cu­pied. And the Old Gold went close to ex­tend­ing their lead when, af­ter a slick in­ter­change of passes with Bowen on the edge of the penalty area, Sean Han­bury re­leased a rasp­ing strike that Martin kept out with a full-length save.

But in the 41st minute they dou­bled their ad­van­tage. Cum­mings, an in­creas­ingly in­flu­en­tial fig­ure in mid­field, pro­duced a sub­lime pass that set Thomas rac­ing to­wards the area and Town’s all-time top scorer com­pleted the move with his cus­tom­ary com­po­sure, driv­ing the ball be­yond Martin’s reach and into the cor­ner of the net.

Af­ter the in­ter­val the pace of the game no­tice­ably quick­ened, with United pour­ing for­ward at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. How­ever, the vis­it­ing de­fence again com­fort­ably with­stood that pres­sure and from deep in­side their own half were fre­quently able to launch rapid counter-at­tacks.

And as the game en­tered the fi­nal quar­ter Car­marthen in­creased their lead in just that fash­ion. The ball was played out of de­fence to Han­bury, who moved along the left flank be­fore fir­ing a long cross deep into the area where Bowen, with im­pres­sive an­tic­i­pa­tion, cre­ated the time and space to power an­other close-range header into the net.

Stung by that set­back, Goytre im­me­di­ately swarmed up­field and went close to re­duc­ing the deficit when Hopkins struck a 25-yard drive that drew a fine save from Idzi, who dived low at full stretch to turn the ball around the post.

Then a Rho­dri Cole free-kick found Adam Jenk­ins, but he di­rected his close-range header just wide of the goal.

Yet the Old Gold were still pos­ing a se­ri­ous threat at the other end of the pitch. And they al­most made it four when Greg Wal­ters moved in from the left and from the cor­ner of the area un­leashed a stun­ning vol­ley that Martin turned past the post with a spec­tac­u­lar fly­ing save.

And the ex­hil­a­rat­ing end-to-end pat­tern con­tin­ued to the end of the match. Han­bury, en­joy­ing pos­si­bly his best per­for­mance for Town since he joined the club at the start of the sea­son, made ground along the left, Goal­mouth ac­tion from the Darch Cup clash be­tween Felin­foel Re­serves and Car­marthen Stars Re­serves. Felin­foel’s Barry Clark and Car­marthen’s Steve Yellin rise to meet the ball. Pic­ture: Phil Davies then lifted a cross­field pass to Bowen. He fired the ball across the goal­mouth where Han­bury, hav­ing con­tin­ued his run, man­aged only a weak shot that Martin eas­ily gath­ered.

Then in added time a cor­ner from United sub­sti­tute Zac Brown reached Thomas Doidge in the goal­mouth, but from a good po­si­tion he sent his loop­ing header over the bar.

This was a highly sat­is­fac­tory per­for­mance by Car­marthen, play­ing away from home against a very ca­pa­ble Welsh League side that in­cluded sev­eral for­mer Welsh Premier League play­ers in their squad and on a pitch made in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult by poor weather con­di­tions, which was in com­plete con­trast to the 3G sur­faces which they have reg­u­larly en­coun­tered so far this sea­son,

All the in­gre­di­ents were there for a cup upset, but were over­come by Neil Smoth­ers and his men.

Town re­turn to league ac­tion when they en­ter­tain Barry Town United at Rich­mond Park on Fri­day (7.30pm).

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