Town start the year in style with dynamic derby display
CARMARTHEN Town claimed the derby honours when they defeated Llanelli Town 2-0 on New Year’s Day.
After Carmarthen’s deeply disappointing performance at Stebonheath Park on Boxing Day, for this reverse fixture they thrilled their supporters by producing a brand of possession football laced with exhilarating attacking play that has rarely been seen in recent seasons.
The Old Gold took the initiative from the start with a series of penetrating bursts from midfield that tested the visiting defence.
And after just three minutes a sequence of crisp passes across the field finished with Sean Hanbury firing a left-wing cross into the goalmouth where Greg Walters saw his close-range shot blocked in front of goal before the ball was cleared away.
But following a further spell of sustained pressure, Town took the lead in the eighth minute with a well-executed set-piece finish. Hanbury delivered a fine corner into the penalty area and Luke Bowen arrived with perfect timing to direct a delightful glancing header into the bottom corner of the net.
Carmarthen continued to dominate and it was only in the 19th minute that keeper Lee Idzi was called into any meaningful action when he easily claimed an over-hit cross.
His opposite number, Llanelli’s Oliver Davies, was far busier as the Old Gold poured forward relentlessly. On 22 minutes industrious midfielder Ceri Morgan won the ball off a defender near the corner of the area, then slid it forward to Walters. He instantly played it across to Bowen, who struck a fierce angled drive that Davies resisted with a superb reflex save.
Moments later, Luke Cummings curled a dangerous free-kick towards the far corner of the goal, only for Davies to claw the ball away just as Dave Vincent seemed likely to tap it into the net.
Indeed, it was not until the 35th
Carmarthen’s Luke Bowen.
CARMARTHEN TOWN.....2 LLANELLI TOWN..............0
minute that Llanelli managed to get a shot on target. A cross from Chris Jones into the area was cleared but the ball fell nicely for Jamie Owen, who wasted the opportunity by directing a weak 20-yard effort straight at Idzi.
Shortly afterwards they forced Idzi into further action. Jordan Follows sent a fine pass through to Michael George, who raced free into the area, only for Town’s experienced keeper to come out of his goal and clear the danger.
Yet the final action of the first half arose at the other end of the pitch when Bowen neatly slid the ball across the edge of the area to Walters, whose shot flew beyond Davies’s reach but slid narrowly wide of the far post.
After the interval the Old Gold again took the early initiative and went close to extending their lead on 52 minutes when a slick exchange of passes ended with Hanbury firing a cross into the goalmouth. While the danger was initially cleared, the ball reached Walters, whose stunning drive beat Davies but flew marginally outside the post.
However, moments later Town deservedly doubled their advantage.
From close to the halfway line Walters, an increasingly influential presence in midfield, produced a remarkable long pass that set Bowen racing clear of defenders and into the area where he cleverly sidestepped the advancing Davies and fired the ball into the empty net.
Then after 68 minutes Mael Davies robbed a defender of the ball on the corner of the area and fired it across the goalmouth to find Liam Thomas, whose sharp close-range volley drew an excellent point-blank save from Davies to turn the ball around the post.
The Old Gold continued their dominance of the proceedings when Vincent began a delightful six-man passing move that carved open the visitors’ defence and finished with Mael Davies crossing the ball into the goalmouth, only for Thomas, arriving at speed, to narrowly fail to reach it for a simple tap-in.
By now Carmarthen seemed content to simply keep possession and slow the game down.
Yet in the 82nd minute central defender Lee Surman made a rare excursion upfield when he took the ball forward from the halfway line, then played it across to Walters who released a stunning 25-yard strike that drew another excellent flying save from Davies.
And soon afterwards Aidan O’Kelly, making a welcome return after four months out with a serious injury sustained in the second match of the season, moved down the left wing before slipping the ball across to Mael Davies, whose rasping 30-yard drive was stopped by Llanelli’s overworked keeper at the foot of the post.