CARMARTHEN, having disposed of last season’s Cymru South League Champions Llantwit Major two weeks ago in the 1st Round of the Nathaniel MG Cup, were now faced in this next round with Pontypridd who were runners-up and promoted into the Cymru Premier League.
However, the Old Gold were seriously disadvantaged from the start with the absence through injury of experienced central defenders Lee Surman and Scott Tancock, while in addition key strikers Liam Thomas and Kaid Mohamed were initially confined to the substitutes bench due to injury issues.
United took the initiative from the start as they swarmed forward from the midfield and put Town’s defence under early pressure – and while the visitors initially coped well, they were unable to prevent the hosts from taking the lead in the 5th minute.
Former Carmarthen midfielder Clayton Green made a strong run along the left flank and then sent a fine cross into the goalmouth where Owain Jones took advantage of some slack marking by the Old Gold defenders and drilled the ball into the net.
Then on 13 minutes Green delivered a searching corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where a close-range header near the post was cleared off the goal-line by Trystan Jones and sent safely away.
Pontypridd continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and kept the visitors under pressure. In the 24th minute Green sent a fine midfield cross out to Williams, in clear space at the corner of the penalty area – from 15 yards he lobbed the ball over Ifan Knott as the young ‘keeper advanced from his goal only for the ball to clear the bar as well.
However, on 33 minutes Town made a welcome break upfield when a neat passing sequence ended with Jordan Vickers, from the corner of the penalty area, firing the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s reach but also, disappointingly, narrowly over the bar.
As half-time approached it seemed likely that the Old Gold would be facing only a modest deficit to seek to overcome after the interval. But deep into added time Lewys Twamley cut in from the touchline and into the penalty area – poor Carmarthen defending then allowed him far too much time and space to drive the ball beyond Knott’s reach and into the back of the bulging net.
Directly after the interval Manager Mark Aizlewood made three substitutions, including that of Liam Thomas, clearly intent on boosting Town’s scoring prospects.
Yet the first notable goal-scoring activity arose at the other end of the pitch. On 49 minutes a cross from the right-wing reached deep inside the penalty area where Owain Jones dispatched a fierce close-range shot only to see Knott, on the goal-line, drop swiftly down and smother the ball before clearing it safely away.
Soon afterwards Kaid Mohamed came off the subs bench to partner Thomas – Town’s most prolific pairing. But initially they were starved of the ball as United enjoyed a brief period of
ascendency during which former Town player Luke Cummings went close to extending their lead. In the 76th minute he chased a through-ball to the edge of the penalty area only to be denied by Knott who raced out of his goal and claimed the ball.
Yet Mohamed did go close to scoring in the 79th minute. Jamie Rickard sprinted into the penalty area and dispatched a fierce volley that was beaten away by the ‘keeper – but Rickard was quick to reclaim the loose ball and played it back in the goalmouth where Mohamed struck a smart drive that was turned aside by Cummings.
From there on the match seemed to be sliding to a fairly until uneventful finish – however in the 90th minute Cummings struck a powerful 20 yard free-kick substitute goalkeeper Nick Jones, with a stunning flying save, side turn over the bar.