Match Report – Caernarfon v Carmarthen Town (5 January 2019)
Caernarfon (3) Carmarthen Town (1)
Any expectation, or even hope, that Carmarthen’s stunning display of attacking football in their last match against Llanelli would herald a welcome and dramatic improvement in their performances over the rest of this season were, sadly, soon dispelled by their largely disappointing play in this match – for having taken the lead through a Liam Thomas penalty midway during the first-half, they were soon overwhelmed by Caernarfon’s fast, incisive movement on and off the ball coupled with some clinical finishing.
Town fielded much the same starting line-up as appeared in that last match although notable absences were Dave Vincent (suspended) and Jordan Knott (injured), both of whom have been key performers in the defensive back-line this season.
In the opening stages the match was quite evenly balanced and confined essentially to midfield exchanges – both sides managed occasional bursts forward that tested, but failed to penetrate, the opposition defence in any meaningful way and neither goal-keeper was called into serious action.
For the Old Gold the well-established midfield trio of Mael Davies, Ceri Morgan and Greg Walters worked tirelessly to provide an additional valuable defensive shield just ahead of the back-line while, whenever possible, enthusiastically breaking quickly forward to initiate counter-attacks for principal strikers Liam Thomas and Luke Bowen to exploit – adventurous full-back Luke Cummings eagerly provided a further attacking outlet.
It was not until the 23rdminute that the first significant scoring opportunity arose. Caernarfon’s Darren Thomas produced a swift break through the centre before sliding the ball across to Nathan Craig on the edge of the penalty area – he dispatched a powerful drive that Lee Surman blocked but the ball rebounded straight back to Craig who from 15 yards instantly fired another smart shot that went just wide of the post.
As the pace of the game began to quicken the Old Gold at last managed a serious goal threat on 25 minutes when Walters sent a delightful pass through to Davies who raced forward and took the ball into the penalty area where he was promptly tripped by Ryan Williams – top scorer Thomas stepped up and confidently drove the spot-kick past ‘keeper Alex Ramsay and into the back of the net.
The home side immediately poured upfield in search of an early equaliser and they dominated this period of play. Yet they were simply unable to pierce the Town defence, which was being well-marshalled by the experienced Surman who was once again in commanding form.
Indeed it was the visitors, after 39 minutes, who created the next significant scoring chance from a rare counter-attack – Davies, who in his debut season has consistently been an impressive creative presence in Carmarthen’s midfield, threaded a neat pass through to Walters who took the ball forward to the edge of the penalty area then produced a promising curling shot that Ramsay, with a marvellous flying save, managed to turn narrowly beyond the post.
But in the 43rdminute Caernarfon’s sustained pressure was at last rewarded – Darren Thomas raced forward along the right flank, went past Craig Hanford and into the penalty area then drove the ball towards the goalmouth where Cai Jones slid it into the net.
After the interval the hosts straightaway put the Old Gold defence under renewed pressure. Yet while a number of decent scoring chances emerged, initially none succeeded due to a combination of some resolute (and sometimes desperate) defending and, on several occasions, secure handling from the experienced Idzi in dealing with both shots and crosses.
However at last, on 69 minutes, Caernarfon justifiably took the lead when Craig, from 25 yards, dispatched a fiercely driven free-kick beyond Idzi’s reach and into the back of the net.
Perhaps shaken by that setback, Town’s performance seemed to deteriorate over the latter stages of the match. Failings that appeared to have been eradicated with the remarkable victory over Llanelli on New Year’s Day sadly re-emerged – in particular, the ball was needlessly given away too often and too easily.
And in the 84thminute that led to the hosts putting the result beyond doubt with a third goal. Substitute Jordan Vickers, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, lost possession deep inside his own half to Darren Thomas who then worked his way across the edge of the penalty area, with little resistance from other Town defenders, before releasing a stunning drive that flew past Idzi and into the corner of the net.
It was a long and miserable journey home from North Wales for the loyal group of supporters who had, on the basis of the Llanelli victory, hoped for a much better performance!
Only one fixture now remains for Carmarthen in the Welsh Premier League first-phase programme – they face Connah’s Quay, who have been at or close to the top of the League table all season, at Richmond Park next Saturday January 12thk/o 7.30pm.
Lee Idzi; Luke Cummings (sub Jordan Vickers 81); Lewis Baldwin; Lee Surman; Craig Hanford (sub Declan Carroll 72); Mael Davies; Ceri Morgan; Greg Walters; Liam Thomas; Luke Bowen; Sean Hanbury (sub Aidan O’Kelly 62);
Unused Subs: Danny Thomas; Neil Smothers;
Goal: Liam Thomas (pen) (26);
Cards: (Y) Lewis Baldwin (39); Mael Davies (80).