Carmarthen Town • 0
The New Saints • 5
CARMARTHEN TOWN’S first competitive match on their new 3G pitch ended in disappointment as they were thumped 5-0 by TNS on Saturday (Sept 30).
Any thoughts they might have had about repeating their remarkable victory over The New Saints last February soon began to evaporate on Saturday (Sept 30) after the WPL Champions opened the scoring early in the match and then went on to dominate the proceedings.
If the Old Gold had been more clinical in front of goal or had enjoyed slightly better fortune on several occasions when they created decent scoring chances, they could at least have made the final score-line much more respectable.
Indeed, they managed the first notable chance in the 2nd minute when Lee Surman’s long clearance reached Liam Griffiths who headed the ball forward to Liam Thomas and he slid it across the edge of the penalty area where Lewis Harling hit a weak shot that ‘keeper Paul Harrison easily gathered.
After just ten minutes TNS went ahead when Christian Seargeant, from the left touchline, fired a free-kick into the packed goalmouth and while the ball was initially cleared, it went straight to Blaine Hudson who saw his angled volley fly past ‘keeper Stephen Hall and into the roof of the net.
The visitors soon settled and went in search of more scoring opportunities.
However, Town defended soundly during this particular spell with the back four of established central pairing Lee Surman and Dave Vincent flanked by Luke Cummings and Jordan Knott looking particularly comfortable and competitive under pressure – and they ensured that Hall was not seriously tested.
The Old Gold were still managing occasional counter-attacks utilising the pace and movement of wingers Kyle Williams and Kostya Georgievsky to good effect and on 19 minutes they forged, but spurned, another scoring opportunity – from the right flank Kieran Lewis sent an inviting free-kick into the goalmouth where Vincent rose high above defenders only to direct his close-range header straight at Harrison.
After 32 minutes they again swept upfield – Georgievsky received the ball near the corner of the penalty area and, with dazzling footwork, defeated his marker before driving the ball dangerously across the face of the goalmouth but saw it, remarkably, evade several onrushing forwards and defenders alike.
Carmarthen’s best chance arose on 36 minutes when Williams burst forward along the right wing then drove the ball towards the goalmouth where Thomas, Town’s winning goal-scorer last February, managed to mishit his close-range shot when scoring would have looked easier.
To compound the disappointment of that moment the Saints then went on to score twice (clinically) before half-time, effectively settling the result in their favour.
In the 39th minute Wes Fletcher’s cross-field pass found Seargeant racing forward from the centre-circle completely in the clear with the home defence stretched wide open – then from the edge of the penalty area, as Hall rushed out of his goal, he deftly chipped the ball over the stranded ‘keeper and into the unguarded net.
Moments later Ryan Brobbel made an almost identical unhindered run through the centre channel, again defeating Hall with a neat, lofted shot only to see the ball this time slide narrowly wide of the post.
The visitors’ irresistible late spell was completed on 45 minutes when Fletcher, on the right flank, sent a fine pass forward to Simon Spender who raced free into the penalty area then, as Hall advanced to challenge, he slid the ball across to Seargeant who had the simple task of firing it into the empty net.
After the interval the Old Gold soon fell further behind. In the 50th minute Brobbel surged forward from the half-way line, outpacing Craig Hanford to reach the penalty area and then calmly took the ball around Hall and fired it into the now familiarly vacant net.
To their credit Town soon responded positively to this devastating series of setbacks and on 54 minutes they went close to reducing the deficit.
Cummings, from the left flank, sent a long cross deep into the goalmouth – while the ball was cleared, it fell nicely for Surman, still upfield following a corner-kick, who instantly produced a stunning angled volley that sadly went straight at Harrison, on the goal-line, and bounced safely away.
However, after 67 minutes the hosts’ defence was again under pressure when Fletcher raced into the penalty area in pursuit of a through-ball but fell under a challenge from Hall – the referee immediately awarded a spot-kick which Seargeant easily converted.
With such a commanding lead TNS seemed content simply to retain possession for the remainder of the match. Commendably, the Old Gold still continued to search for goals.
On 82 minutes Dan Sheehan won the ball deep inside his own half then proceeded on a determined run along the left touchline to reach the corner of the Saints’ penalty area before releasing an angled drive that sailed just over the bar. Shortly afterwards Williams twice went close to snatching a late consolation goal.
First, a long cross from Georgievsky into the penalty area was well controlled by the young winger who then from eight yards struck a crisp shot that was blocked by a defender right in front of the goal – he straightaway claimed the rebound and dispatched another promising effort that was scrambled off the goal-line.
With this defeat, their sixth in seven games, Town are now in danger of losing touch with the group of mid-table teams who will be challenging for a coveted top-six finish at the end of the first-phase League fixtures.
They now have the opportunity to immediately improve that situation in their next fixture when they make the long journey up to Prestatyn, the team just one place and three points above them, on Saturday (Oct 7), k/o 2.30pm.