CARMARTHEN welcomed local rivals Llanelli to Richmond Park no doubt aiming to reverse the result of the match at Stebonheath early in the season – and after 90 minutes of mostly positive attacking football they had achieved exactly that outcome.
Right from the start the Old Gold poured forward and kept the Reds defenders under pressure.
However, it was not until the 6th minute that they managed a notable scoring chance when Matthew Delaney, from the centre-circle, sent a fine pass through to Ben Steele on the corner of the penalty area – he then swiftly crossed the ball to Liam Thomas who from 15 yards struck a fierce drive that defender Sam Parsons managed to block on the goal-line and then clear to safety.
Moments later Trystan Jones, from the left flank, launched a searching cross infield to reach Greg Walters – he moved forward then released a stunning 20 yard shot but saw goal-keeper Exauce Dimonekene produce an impressive flying save to turn the ball aside.
But then on 11 minutes the ‘keeper went close to gifting Town a goal when, from Adam John’s corner-kick, he completely missed the ball – this allowed Sean Pemberton the chance for a close-range header but he saw his effort hit the underside of the bar before a defender managed to clear the ball safely away.
In the 15th minute another of a series of corner-kicks from John provided Pemberton, making his first starting appearance for the Old Gold since his recent signing for the Club, with a further scoring opportunity but his close-range header, while defeating Dimonekene, flew narrowly over the bar.
Llanelli at last managed a genuine scoring chance after 17 minutes. Jake Thomas, from deep inside his own half, launched a long pass beyond the home defenders which Tom Hillman eagerly pursued – however as Scott Coughlin, on his Carmarthen debut, raced out of his goal to the edge of the penalty area the Reds striker hurriedly drove the ball past the stranded ‘keeper but wide of the post.
Town continued to largely dominate the play and scoring opportunities. On 31 minutes Walters won possession off a defender and swiftly struck a fierce 25 yard volley that Dimonekene, at full length, impressively turned around the post.
Then in the 38th minute Carmarthen forced a sequence of five corner-kicks in rapid succession the last of which led to Pemberton planting his close-range header narrowly over the bar.
After the interval the Old Gold quickly resumed their virtual domination of the play. On 49 minutes Jones moved infield from the left flank then released a stunning 35 yard volley that the increasingly busy Dimonekene turned over the bar.
However at last, in the 54th minute, Town secured the goal that, on the basis of their performance so far, they fully deserved.
From near the right touchline Tom Dyson sent a fine pass across the edge of the penalty area where all-time top goal-scorer Liam Thomas arrived with perfect timing to evade defenders and clinically drive his crisp shot beyond the reach of Dimonekene and into the corner of the net.
Having now taken a well-deserved lead Carmarthen went in search of further goals to ensure that victory would be theirs. On 66 minutes Thomas sent a fine pass through to Dyson who raced into the penalty area and from 15 yards struck a fierce volley that Dimonekene blocked and then cleared to safety.
Moments later Steele threaded the ball across the edge of the penalty area to reach John who straightaway dispatched a powerful drive that Llanelli’s overworked goalkeeper, with a flying save, turned around the post.
Town continued to dominate the play but, worryingly, they seemed unable to secure another goal that would make the prospect of victory more certain. However at last, on 87 minutes, that elusive goal was scored.
A smart cross-field move finished with John sending a fine pass through to Steele just inside the penalty area – he struck a fierce drive that Dimonekene blocked but failed to hold and substitute Noah Daley, alert to the prospect, tapped the loose ball into the empty goal.
Yet Carmarthen’s relief was short-lived. As the match moved into added time Llanelli won a corner-kick which Hillman sent into the over-crowded goalmouth – Town defenders, including ‘keeper Coughlin, failed to deal with the ball which finished in the back of the net.
Thankfully, with the visitors now sensing the prospect of a late equalising goal, the Old Gold found space upfield for them to exploit and in the third minute of added time they restored their two-goal advantage. Jordan Vickers, from deep inside his own half, embarked on a powerful run along the right-flank to reach the by-line then drove the ball into the goalmouth beyond Dimonekene’s reach but straight to Daley who comfortably converted his second tap-in goal within the space of just five minutes.
There are now just six League matches remaining – while there is now no realistic prospect of a top two finish for the Old Gold, any placing up to third position (currently held by Cambrian and Clydach with 45 points) seems to be an achievable aim.
Town’s next fixture is away at Taffs Well on Saturday, March 26, (k/o 2.30pm).