TOWN MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW
CEFN DRUIDS....................0 CARMARTHEN TOWN......1
CARMARTHEN, having lost all three earlier matches against Cefn Druids this season, at last had the satisfaction of taking three points from Saturday’s game thanks to a late penalty by top scorer Liam Thomas.
And as an additional bonus Town now move above the Druids, level on points but with a superior goal difference, to occupy ninth place in the Welsh Premier League table.
But as both clubs had already secured safety from relegation, and with Cardiff Met and Aberystwyth too far ahead in the chase for the UEFA qualifying place, this match was a fairly meaningless affair.
And for a long spell during the earlier stages this was very evident as neither side showed much urgency or conviction, with the play largely confined to a series of inconsequential midfield exchanges.
In fact, it was not until the 15th minute that a moment of genuine excitement arose when the Druids went close to opening the scoring.
Ryan Kershaw fired a corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Dean Rittenberg rose high above defenders but saw his firm closerange header crash against the bar before the ball was cleared safely away.
Then on 21 minutes they threatened again when Rittenberg sent a fine pass through to Danny Gossett, who struck a fierce 20-yard drive that Town keeper Lee Idzi turned around the post with a spectacular flying save.
That seemed to stir the Old Gold into more meaningful competitive activity deeper inside the Cefn half, and after 25 minutes they created their first notable scoring chance.
Ceri Morgan burst forward from the centre circle and then from 25 yards dispatched a rasping shot that keeper Michael Jones was well placed to claim.
But Town’s goal threat was limited. With regular strike partner Luke Bowen absent, all-time top scorer Liam Thomas so often looked isolated and outnumbered by the home defenders. While his enthusiasm and effort were commendable, genuine scoring opportunities never emerged for him.
However, nor were the Druids able to make any such progress against the formidable Old Gold defence at the heart of which, as usual, were the experienced pairing of Lee Surman and Dave Vincent — and behind them was Idzi, who was never again seriously tested.
After the interval nothing much changed in terms of the character of the play, including the absence of any goalmouth excitement.
The first notable chance arose on 58 minutes when Mael Davies carelessly lost possession well inside the Druids half.
From this gifted opportunity the hosts produced a rapid counter-attack that finished with Naim Arsan, on the edge of the penalty area, firing a low drive that Idzi was quickly down to smother.
Any hope that this might spark an uplift in the nature of the game was soon dispelled, although after 63 minutes Town did manage a shot on target from an unlikely source.
Jordan Vickers sent a short corner to Luke Cummings, who quickly crossed the ball to the far side of the packed goalmouth where Surman struck a crisp close-range volley that Jones, reacting smartly, claimed at the foot of the post.
Again, the renewed prospect of a marked improvement in entertainment value quickly evaporated and the game seemed to be meandering towards an inevitable goalless draw.
Yet all that changed in the 83rd minute.
As the Old Gold launched a swift counter-attack, Lewis Harling, near the halfway line, threaded a fine pass through to Cummings, who then fired an inviting cross into the penalty area where Thomas, eagerly sprinting forward in anticipation, timed his arrival perfectly.
With just Jones ahead of him and Nathan Pearce close by, Town’s inform star goal-scorer dispatched a smart strike that was blocked by the defender — but with his hand.
The referee immediately awarded a penalty and sent off the luckless Pearce. Then Thomas, with his customary composure, drove the spotkick past Jones and into the back of the net for his 21st WPL goal. Remarkably, it was his eighth penalty in all competitions this season.
In the remaining minutes the Old Gold comfortably defended their lead to secure their third successive league victory, a feat not previously achieved this season.
Town’s final match of this season is this Friday (April 26) at 7.45pm when long-time rivals Aberystwyth visit Richmond Park.
Carmarthen: Lee Idzi; Jordan Vickers; Dave Vincent; Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Mael Davies (sub Declan Carroll 66); Ceri Morgan; Lewis Harling; Greg Walters; Aidan O’Kelly (Luke Cummings 43); Liam Thomas. Unused subs: Craig Hanford; Jay Woodford; Danny Thomas.
Goal: Liam Thomas (84 pen). Card: (Yellow) Mael Davies (62).
Left, Felinfoel’s Stephen Greene fends off Caerbryn’s Alex Reed, while below, Caerbryn’s Nathan Spowart and Felinfoel’s Ben Edwards wait for the ball to drop.