THE Carmarthenshire derby ended with Llanelli Town clinching the bragging rights courtesy of two late goals, with the result going some way to compensating for the 3-0 home loss at Stebonheath to their opponents last November.
It was also achieved without the services of three key players, with Thomas Hillman, Ryan Bevan and Keane Watts missing due to suspension and injury, before the introduction off the bench of Dylan Williams on the hour changed the whole aspect of the contest as he was instrumental in the involvement for the assists which led to the late double strikes by Eli Phipps and Brandon Griffiths.
The visitors began in positive fashion and were in the ascendancy in the opening quarter, with Nick Jones in the home goal being called into early action to turn over a well-struck effort by James Parry when he was set up by a pass from Tim Parker.
They threatened again when a fluffed clearance by Trystan Jones afforded Phipps a chance, but Jones got down to divert his effort for a corner, and when this came across a far post header was just off target.
The Old Gold were being pressurised, and conceded after just 10 minutes when Parry was brought down in the box with Phipps calmly slotting home the spot kick.
After this initial blitz, the hosts eventually began to get a grip on proceedings with Greg Walters pulling the strings from midfield, and from one of his incisive passes Scott Coughlan in the Reds` goal was forced to divert away a dangerous cross with the covering defence eventually closing down the threat.
Now in control of the game, Carmarthen went close to levelling matters following a run by Jamie Rickard who then set up Liam Thomas, but Coughlan did well to block his initial effort before the loose ball was met by Thomas but scrambled off the line.
With the home side now showing far more attacking intent, it came as little surprise when they equalised on 29 minutes when a free kick into the box was not dealt with by the visitors` defence, allowing Scott Tancock to stretch out a foot and divert the ball beyond Coughlan from close in.
Buoyed by this success, the hosts continued to dictate matters with Walters involved in most of their moves, and when another superb ball picked out Noah Daley in space ten yards out, he somehow contrived to screw his finish wide of the open net.
The Reds after their initial positive burst were finding it difficult to create much in the way of scoring chances, although Parker might have done better when he connected with a lofted ball in the box bur sliced his attempt off target.
The visitors made a change at the start of the second half, with Adam Robbins replacing Miles John, but the Old Gold continued to have the better of the overall play with Walter sending Daley clear on a run up the middle before he was partially halted and the covering defence managed to scramble the ball over at the far post.
A Jordan Vickers free kick was met by Daley but again his finish was awry, while another chance fell to Vickers himself when he was found in space, and although Coughlan attempted to close him
down he still got his shot away before James Baker came to the rescue with a goal-line clearance.
There then arose a flash point when Reds` captain Joe Hopkins was felled by a nasty challenge from Daley, with players on both sides involved in the melee with referee Teifion Cook attempting to restore order and producing yellow cards for Daley and Tom Dyson before showing red to the visitors` Kyran Steadman who had only been on the field for four minutes after coming off the bench.
With still a substantial portion of the contest still to play, the Reds with their depleted numbers might have feared the worse, and their opponents took full advantage by pushing forward, forcing Coughlan into a stupendous save by pushing over a Joshua Gibson header from point blank range, and repeated the feat shortly after by diverting for a corner a well-struck set piece by Vickers.
Despite the pressure, the visitors` rearguard were holding firm and repelling most of the attacks by the Old Gold, and might even have notched up a surprise lead when Phipps was presented with a golden opportunity from a knock-down by Parker but failed to hit the target from a few yards out.
With time running out it appeared as if both sides might have to settle for a share of the spoils, before Williams came into his own after his introduction, running at the home defence and causing all sorts of problems, and from one of his mazy runs he delivered a great cross into the middle which was met by Phipps to glance a header over Jones on the stroke of full time and stun the home side.
If this was not a killer blow, there was even worse to come for the Old Gold when Williams was again involved, chasing down a ball into home territory, and with Jones making a somewhat unwise decision to come off his line in an attempt to clear, Williams won the race before finding Griffiths in front of an unguarded goal who gleefully accepted the gift to wrap up the win in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
The Reds are still in third place in the table behind leaders Barry Town United and Briton Ferry Llansawel but with games in hand, and will be hoping to keep their winning run going when Llantwit Major visit Stebonheath next Friday, kick off 7.30pm.
Carmarthen’s next game sees them visit Briton Ferry Llansawel on Friday evening, kick off also 7:30pm.