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Rampant Town flying towards seventh

Mark Jones: smashes his first penalty home
Mark Jones: smashes his first penalty home

Aberystwyth Town 2

Carmarthen Town 4

CARMARTHEN TOWN, playing only their second game in six weeks, produced another highly-competitive performance.

Full of energy and commitment they came back twice from being a goal down against a strong Aberystwyth side to finish worthy winners of this typically keenly contested local derby.

Yet during the early stages of this match the play was both uninspiring and uneventful with neither side looking capable of creating any serious attacking threat.

Indeed, it was not until the 16th minute that the first notable chance arose when Jordan Knott, from the left wing, delivered a deep cross into the penalty area where Cledan Davies sent a poor defensive header straight to Lewis Harling but he fired his 15-yard shot just wide of the post.

However, gradually the Old Gold began to enjoy more possession and increase pressure on the home defence with a series of swift, incisive raids that so often stemmed from the vision and industry of Harling who was well supported by midfield partner Ceri Morgan.

On 21 minutes Knott launched a long throw into the goalmouth to reach Kyle Bassett who turned smartly past his marker before hitting a crisp close-range strike narrowly outside the post.

Then after 25 minutes Bassett’s determined run took him deep into the penalty area only for him to be brought down by a lunging tackle from defender Stuart Jones – but Town’s claims for what seemed to be a certain penalty were brushed aside by the referee.

And the visitors went close again in the 33rd minute when Dan Sheehan sent a right-wing cross deep into the penalty area to find Liam Thomas who headed the ball back to Harling but he saw his 15 yard effort fly marginally too wide.

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During this initial period while Aberystwyth produced plenty of promising approach play, they were never able to trouble the home defence in any meaningful way – this was largely due to another impressive display from the burgeoning central partnership of Dwaine Bailey and Dave Vincent who remained assured and disciplined under pressure.

So it was a complete surprise when the home side took the lead on 42 minutes with their first on-target scoring effort. Jonathan Evans lifted a long cross from the right wing over to the far side of the penalty area to reach Craig Williams who sent the ball back into the goalmouth where Rhys Griffiths leapt above Bailey to plant his header firmly into the roof of the net.

After the interval the Old Gold made a positive start as they attacked with urgency and purpose in search of an early equaliser. And having quickly forced a series of corners they achieved their aim in the 51st minute when Morgan threaded a fine pass through to Harling just inside the penalty area – he instantly played the ball across to Mark Jones who skilfully swept it beyond the reach of keeper Mike Lewis and into the far corner of the net.

Spurred by that success Town increased the pressure on the home defence and on 58 minutes Bassett surged down the right wing before firing the ball high into the goalmouth where Harling, rising above his marker, saw his close-range looping header sail narrowly over the bar.

And moments later Morgan, from near the corner of the penalty area, produced what appeared to be a low cross which deceived Lewis who was undoubtedly relieved to see the ball drift just fractionally wide of the far post.

Then after 61 minutes Aberystwyth suffered a setback when Griffiths received a second yellow card in the space of five minutes, each time for a challenge on Bailey who had been shadowing him closely (and very effectively) all match, leading to his automatic dismissal.

Yet, despite their numerical disadvantage, the hosts soon went ahead once more – from the left wing Williams sent a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Geoff Kellaway controlled the ball well under pressure from Knott and turned sharply before striking a smart angled drive past keeper Lee Idzi.

Carmarthen responded immediately to that setback as they launched another series of attacks and soon added to their scoring options by replacing defender Craig Hanford with striker Luke Prosser. And after 73 minutes they were back on level terms.

Harling, continuing his pivotal role at the heart of Town’s most productive action, cut inside from the left wing then easily drifted past two defenders before hitting a fierce shot from 10 yards that was deflected narrowly too high.

From the ensuing corner-kick Dave Vincent emerged from a crowd of players to produce a strong header that crashed against the bar but Knott quickly pounced on the loose ball and cleverly back-heeled it past Lewis for his first goal in Carmarthen colours.

And Knott was instrumental in the Old Gold taking the lead on 80 minutes when his 20-yard volley was deemed by the referee to have been handled inside the penalty area. Jones stepped forward and confidently drove the resultant spot-kick past Lewis.

In the closing stages Aberystwyth threw players forward in search of an equalising goal. Yet they became increasingly vulnerable to counterattacks and during added time a long clearance out of defence set Bassett bursting forward beyond the half-way line – as the sole home defender went to challenge him, he sent a marvellous cross-field pass to Jones who was completely in the clear but as he raced into the penalty area Lewis brought him down and was immediately penalised.

Jones exacted his revenge by again powering his spot-kick past the disconsolate keeper to complete his first hat-trick for the Old Gold since his pre-season move from, by curious coincidence, Aberystwyth.

Team: Lee Idzi; Daniel Sheehan; Dwaine Bailey; David Vincent; Jordan Knott; Craig Hanford (sub Luke Prosser 60); Lewis Harling; Ceri Morgan; Kyle Bassett; Mark Jones; Liam Thomas.