Penybont 3 Carmarthen Town 1

Match Report – Penybont v Carmarthen Town (5 July 2016)
By John Collyer
Match reporter for Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town AFC

Penybont 3 Carmarthen Town 1

Carmarthen opened their pre-season programme against Welsh League side Penybont whose spirited performance presented a suitably stern challenge for a Town squad that comprised most of the regulars that finished last season (Luke Cummings, Craig Hanford and Ceri Morgan were unavailable for differing reasons, while Sacha Walters and Luke Prosser were of course released several weeks ago and Kieran Lewis and James Kirkwood have also left the club); in addition there were first appearances in the Old Gold colours for new signings Lee Surman, Declan Carroll, Matthew Thomas and Aidan Miller together with trialist Connor Hughes.
Town began the match quite impressively as they monopolised possession and kept the home side pinned well back in their own half for long spells. Even so, in the opening stages they were unable to breach the Penybont defence and 8 minutes had passed before they forged a scoring opportunity when Jordan Knott broke forward down the left wing then slid a fine pass inside to Carroll who turned sharply and struck a 25 yard drive just wide of the post.
Then on 12 minutes, following a slick interchange of passes on the edge of the penalty area, Miller played a short ball across to Lewis Harling who from 15 yards released a crisp angled shot that was cleared in front of goal by a defender. From the resultant corner-kick the ball was returned to Kyle Bassett who chipped it into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas produced a skilful overhead kick that flew just wide of the post.
During this spell Penybont were confined to only an occasional counter-attack which the Old Gold defence, and in particular the new towering central partnership of Dwaine Bailey and Surman, comfortably resisted. But at last after 16 minutes ‘keeper Lee Idzi was called into action when the hosts’ lively winger Connor Galsworthy raced down the left flank and from the corner of the penalty area released a sharp drive that Idzi confidently claimed.
Yet Carmarthen continued to dictate the pattern of play with influential midfielder Harling usually at the heart of the action. And, unsurprisingly, he began the move that led to the visitors opening the score in the 25th minute with a sublime long pass that set Bassett free down the right wing – Town’s flying winger then fired the ball into the goalmouth where Matthew Thomas neatly evaded a defender before smartly converting the close-range chance.
Spurred by that success Town maintained the pressure and after 33 minutes went close to extending their lead when from Bassett’s corner Dave Vincent rose highest in the crowded penalty area but saw his firm header fly narrowly over the bar.
However the Welsh League side were by now gradually posing more of a threat going forward and on 36 minutes a long cross from the right flank reached Galsworthy who from 15 yards managed a glancing header that drew an impressive full-length save from Idzi. And on 45 minutes their revival was complete when Adam Carpenter took the ball to the by-line then lifted a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Galsworthy leapt high to plant his header into the back of the net.
The Old Gold immediately responded when Bassett, in typically robust fashion, weaved his way past several defenders across the edge of the penalty area then dispatched a rasping drive that crashed against the bar before rebounding safely away.
After the interval Town again began promisingly – in the 49th minute Liam Thomas made a strong run to the edge of the penalty area then played the ball back to Hughes who released a crisp drive that ‘keeper Mike Lewis was well-placed to gather. Moments later the industrious Carroll delivered a searching cross into the penalty area which Hughes met with a deft glancing header that was denied by the former Old Gold ‘keeper with a smart diving save.
But immediately Penybont launched a counter-attack and took the lead when Marcus Griffiths was allowed too much space by the Town defence as he raced forward to reach a long through ball then neatly side-stepped Bailey on the edge of the penalty area before hitting a fierce strike that left Idzi well beaten.
The hosts, having made several substitutions at half-time, were now looking far more competitive as they attacked with pace and purpose – conversely, a series of substitutions throughout the second-half, with manager Mark Aizlewood understandably anxious to give all of his squad a decent amount of game-time, seemed to leave his frequently changing midfield/defensive formations vulnerable and stretched.
Yet the Old Gold were still creating scoring chances. On 71 minutes Danny Thomas set up Carroll who saw his stunning 25 yard effort well saved by Lewis. Shortly afterwards, Miller embarked on a dazzling run towards the penalty area before producing a scorching shot that Lewis just managed to turn over the bar. Then in the closing minutes of the game Danny Thomas pounced on a weak clearance and released a powerful strike that tested Lewis, while moments later another determined run by Miller finished with a neat pass across to Bassett whose fierce 20 yard drive was resisted by the ‘keeper with a flying save.
Within 60 seconds however the home side went further ahead from a swift breakaway which saw a further Old Gold defensive lapse allow Sam Johnstone sufficient space to race forward unchallenged and reach a long through ball and then comfortably defeat Idzi from 20 yards.
There was much to admire about Carmarthen’s performance, particularly during the first-half when the line-up remained unchanged, and the final score did not fairly reflect the overall balance of play – thankfully, in this first pre-season friendly the result really did not matter.

Team:
Lee Idzi; Kyle Bassett (sub Dan Sheehan 68); Dwaine Bailey (sub Dave Vincent 62); Lee Surman (sub Dwaine Bailey 79); Jordan Knott; Dave Vincent (sub Danny Thomas 46); Lewis Harling (sub Liam Thomas 84); Declan Carroll (sub Kyle Bassett 79); Aidan Miller (sub Connor Hughes 46); Liam Thomas (sub Mark Jones 73); Matthew Thomas (sub Aidan Miller 66);

Cards: None

Goal: Matthew Thomas 25.

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