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Old Gold narrowly beaten by Barry

CARMARTHEN went into this match on the basis of a run of four consecutive Cymru South League victories but aware of the strength of the Barry side which had been relegated from the Premier League only at the end of last season.

And that strength was demonstrated from the start as United swarmed upfield and put the Old Gold defence under immediate and sustained pressure. Briefly that pressure was resisted but as early as the 4th minute the visitors took the lead.

A clearance from the Barry defence reached Aiden Lewis in the centre-circle – he swiftly sent a fine pass forward to the corner of the penalty area where Liam Warman, in a worrying amount of space, struck a fierce drive that flew beyond goalkeeper Ifan Knott’s reach and into the roof of the net.

Carmarthen briefly responded and forced a corner-kick which Jordan Vickers fired into the packed goalmouth only to see Lee Surman plant his close-range header just over the bar.

However, the visitors went on to virtually dominate the first-half. Frequently they were able to penetrate the midfield and along the flanks but crucially Town’s defence, well organised around experienced central defenders Surman and Scott Tancock, resisted any serious goal threat – and behind that rear-guard Knott displayed safe-handling and good positioning whenever necessary.

Barry were also guilty of poor finishing on several occasions particularly towards the interval. On 43 minutes Michael George, from the left-wing, sent a long cross to the edge of the penalty area where Kayne McLaggon fired his shot high over the bar. Then moments later Lewis, in plenty of space inside the penalty area, struck his 15 yard volley wastefully too high.

After the interval however the nature of the match changed completely – whatever instructions Manager Mark Aizlewood might have given to his players during the break the Old Gold took the initiative away from the visitors and began to subject their defence to spells of sustained pressure.

Within just 4 minutes of the restart Kaid Mohammed slipped in from the touchline and from the corner of the penalty area struck a fierce angled drive that flew past goalkeeper Mike Lewis but the ball was cleared off the goal-line by defender Aiden Lewis.

Carmarthen continued to press forward, driven by the energy and invention of midfielders Tom Dyson, Mathew Delaney, Greg Walters and Bradley Gibbings – now it was Barry who were the team under noticeable pressure.

On 53 minutes Mohammed, out wide on the left wing, delivered a fine cross to the edge of the penalty area where Dyson fired a smart volley that flew just narrowly over the bar.

Still the Old Gold tested the visitors’ defence. In the 76th minute Noah Daley made a strong run along the left flank and burst into the penalty area before striking a wide-angled drive that flew past Lewis but went just wide of the post and into the side netting.

How unfortunate for Carmarthen that all-time top goal-scorer Liam Thomas, in prime scoring form in recent matches, was unable to play due to injury.

But still Town kept the Barry defence under pressure. As the match went into added time Daley, from the corner of the penalty area, sent a fine cross into the goalmouth where Will Rikard planted his close-range header narrowly over the bar. Then straightaway he had another decent scoring opportunity but from the edge of the penalty area he sent his volley over the bar.

Finally, as the match ran deep into added time this keenly contested game erupted into an unseemly brawl amongst several players from both sides which led to Rikard being sent-off and a player from each being cautioned – a regrettable closing to an absorbing match.