CAMPAIGN ENDS ON A LOW NOTE
THE curtain finally came down at the Cyncoed campus on Llanelli Town’s brief flirtation with the JD Welsh Premier League following yet another defeat, which confirmed that they had conceded more than 100 goals during the season.
Despite yet another reverse, at least the Reds more than matched opponents who have qualified for the Europa League play-offs, probably against Caernarfon Town, and were actually twice in the lead and looked odds-on for at least a point as the contest entered its closing stages. However, an 83rd-minute clincher won it for the Archers.
Once again forced to field a side depleted by injuries and unavailabilities, Reds manager Andy Hill named himself in the starting line-up, while 17-year-old Callum Howard made his senior debut at the back and acquitted himself well.
The home side were the first to threaten when a run by Sam Pashen took him into the box, before Anthony Nelson diverted his effort for a corner.
The same player then had a great chance to open the scoring when he was found in space close to goal, but he was denied by the legs of goalkeeper Scott Coughlan.
Having survived those early scares, the visitors unexpectedly took the lead on 16 minutes through Michael George. He surged forward before unleashing a superb finish from 25 yards which soared over Will Fuller in the home goal.
The Reds were playing well, displaying lots of confidence on the ball and their goal was seldom under serious threat, although Nelson was forced to concede a corner when the hosts countered with a delivery across the face of goal.
An overhead kick by Joe Clarke almost played in Hill but Fuller was quickly off his line to grab the ball on the edge of his area.
With the interval approaching it appeared as if the Reds might hang on to their lead before a scrappy equaliser on 40 minutes. Coughlan managed to keep out a close-range attempt, only for Tim Parker to scuff home the rebound.
There was still time for Coughlan to divert a free-kick from distance by Gwion Howell around the post, and early in the second half he again came to the rescue, this time keeping out a Dion Phillips shot when Brad Flay set up the chance.
Despite these attempts on their goal the Reds were still very much in the game, and when they instigated a move which culminated in their opponents’ box, they took too much time over the final ball, allowing the Archers defence to clear the danger.
Undeterred, the visitors took the lead for the second time on 61 minutes following a Chris Jones free-kick lofted into the area, and when Lee Bevan was bundled to the ground referee Bryn Markham Jones pointed to the spot.
Jones stepped up to take the kick and his shot into the bottom corner comprehensively beat Fuller to restore the advantage.
Stung by this reverse, the home side retaliated.
Flay saw his finish diverted around the upright by keeper Coughlan, but on 68 minutes they got themselves back on level terms when Parker notched up his second goal with a clinical strike.
The Archers ramped up the pressure in their search for a winner, and came close to doing so when Phillips got down the right flank and to the near post before sending a delivery across goal, but somehow both defenders and attackers alike failed to make contact.
With the contest entering its closing stages, it appeared as if the visitors would come away with a creditable point, but seven minutes from time a free-kick by Phillips was met by a thumping header from Archers captain Liam Black that gave Coughlan no chance of keeping it out.
This proved to be the winner and brought yet more disappointment to the Reds, whose efforts were worthy of at least a share of the spoils.
But the end of a sobering season and demotion back to the Welsh League may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, particularly if they can retain the bulk of the current squad and recruit a number of new faces for the next campaign.
CARDIFF MET: Fuller, Clubb, Spencer (Warman 75), Swindelhurst, Black (capt), Pashen, Phillips, Hadjergjonaj, Parker, Flay, Howell (Evans 67). Subs not used: Williams, Woolridge, Lang.
LLANELLI TOWN: Coughlan, Hunt, Nelson, Bevan, Howard, George, Clarke (capt), C. Jones, Ngoy, Loveridge, Hill. Subs not used: Rees, Thomas.
SCORERS: Cardiff Met — Parker 40, 68. Black 83. Llanelli Town — George 16, Jones 61 (pen).
REFEREE: Bryn Markham Jones (Swansea).
Trostre’s Luke Haddock and Loughor’s Logan James rise to meet the ball in the Premier division of the Carmarthenshire League. The match ended 2-2.