CLINICAL TOWN EASE THROUGH
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).