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Reds earn narrow win over Ammanford

Photo by Lawrence Molloy

THIS latest derby between the old rivals was significant for both sides for different reasons, with the hosts once again – as last season – struggling in the relegation zone, while their opponents have realistic hopes of ending as runners-up to Barry Town United who look well set to clinch the JD Cymru South title and elevation back to the Welsh Premier League.

With second-placed Briton Ferry Llansawel due to visit Stebonheath on Friday, March 24, the result could prove pivotal in deciding who ends up behind Barry, and with the Reds having two games in hand over their opponents, they will be striving for maximum points from the clash.

The overall play at the Rec, particularly in the first half, was scrappy with neither side really gaining the upper hand, although an early crossfield ball by ex -Swansea City legend, Lee Trundle, to pick out Brett Enoch led to the latter making ground on goal before being crowded out by some sound defending.

A Josh Allen free kick sailed well over the Ammanford crossbar, and he was involved again when a nice move involving James Parry and Louis Gerrard led to Thomas Hillman driving his finish low across the face of the net, with Allen just failing to make a connection.

A poorly –struck set-piece by Hillman afforded the hosts the chance to launch a quick break, but the well-organised visitors` defence was alert and the danger averted.

Trundle was being kept relatively quiet, although he did manage to set up Jay Thomas who made a run into the box before Scott Coughlan came off his line to block the finish, and the same two players were further involved with Thomas firing his final effort over the bar.

With the half drawing to a close, it appeared as if it would end goalless, but on 43 minutes the Reds were awarded a penalty when Miles John was felled by a reckless challenge in the area by Danny Birch, and Sean Cronin stepped up to easily beat Craig Morris in the home goal to establish the lead.

In fact, in first half stoppage time, the visitors almost increased their advantage when Allen made a run to the byline before pulling the ball back into the middle where it was helped on towards goal, forcing Euros Griffiths to clear off the line.

Narrowly ahead on the restart, the Reds were under some pressure early on, with Matthew Fisher skimming the crossbar with a shot from distance, before they hit back with Gerrard seeing his finish end up on the top of the net when he met a deep far post delivery from Adam Robbins.

Tim Parker was then introduced on the hour mark as a replacement for Allen, and the visitors began to take charge of proceedings with Joe Hopkins setting up John for a strike, but his finish lacked venom and did not cause any problem.

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John was involved again, superbly trapping and then taking on the ball in his stride before homing in on the Ammanford goal, forcing Morris into a good save to divert his attempt for a corner, and when this came across it was met by Cronin who was just off target with his header.

Parker was shown a yellow card for a rash challenge, and the Reds made a number of substitutions, with Hillman, John and Gerrard being replaced by Dylan Williams, Taylor Marsh and Brandon Griffiths late on in the proceedings.

With referee Tegid Richards adding on a substantial amount of additional time, Parker was shown a red card for kicking the ball away, and having only recently returned from an earlier suspension, can expect an even longer one for this latest catastrophe.

This somewhat dampened what was another well-deserved win for the Reds who closed the points gap on the Ferry to five, and they will be hoping for more of the same when they travel next Saturday to meet Pontardawe Town, kick off 2.30pm.