Carmarthen at last brought an end to their disappointing sequence of results in the Welsh Premier League when, in a pulsating game at Newtown, they came from behind to secure a richly-deserved victory with two stunning second-half goals.
After a fairly uneventful initial period, the game began to open up as play swung from end to end with both sides defending solidly and breaking quickly forward from midfield. On 12 minutes Craig Hanford drilled a low cross into the Newtown goalmouth where Liam Thomas, tightly marked, miscued his close-range shot and saw the ball fly agonisingly across the face of the goal and out of play. Shortly afterwards Matthew Rees rose highest to meet a Leon Jeanne corner-kick but his header went narrowly over the bar. Jeanne was again the provider after 30 minutes when he fed Scott Quigley who turned neatly past his marker on the edge of the penalty area before firing marginally too high.
Yet the hosts also continued to threaten and came close to opening the scoring moments later when from Zac Evans’ deep free-kick Luke Boundford’s close-range header was just off-target. But on 36 minutes their efforts were rewarded as Nicky Ward cut in from the right flank and fired a superb shot from 25 yards which gave Town goalkeeper Kerry Nicholas no chance.
Town once again pressed forward and after good approach work by Quigley a deft chip from the edge of the penalty area by substitute Julian Alsop, who had only just replaced the injured Jeanne, flew narrowly wide. Straightaway the home side broke back with Craig Williams surging clear into the penalty area but, under pressure from Nicholas who was quickly off his line, he put his shot wide.
After the interval Carmarthen were quickly on the offensive and Hanford’s long throw into a crowded goalmouth led to Liam Thomas driving the ball past ‘keeper Dave Roberts but into the side netting. Then on 55 minutes Thomas again featured, taking the ball forward from the half-way line before releasing Danny Thomas who drilled a dangerous cross into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas, who had continued his run, connected powerfully but saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line. Shortly afterwards Quigley cut in from the left and neatly set up Danny Thomas whose sharp strike was blocked in front of goal; Paul Fowler picked up the rebound only for his shot to flash just wide of the post.
Then, in a brief spell of retaliation, the home side came close to scoring when, following a corner, a goalmouth scramble finished with Neil Smothers clearing Williams’ hooked shot off the line.
But by now Town’s forward momentum was relentless with Alsop the towering focal point of most attacks. He used his height, strength and vast experience with considerable effect, rarely being defeated in an aerial challenge, and by his sheer presence he kept the home defenders fully engaged. After 68 minutes he headed a deep cross on to Quigley whose effort from 15 yards was blocked in front of goal; Liam Thomas reacted quickest to the rebound but his snap-shot narrowly missed the target. However moments later Casey Thomas, with his first touch of the ball just seconds after he had come on as a substitute, strode forward and struck a fierce drive from 30 yards which Roberts could only help into the net - a deserved equaliser after Town’s sustained second-half pressure.
Then only minutes later a pin-point crossfield pass by Danny Thomas from inside his own half was controlled expertly by Town top scorer Liam Thomas who moved clear of the last defender and crashed the ball home. Newtown now surged forward in search of an equaliser but over the last 20 minutes they could find no way through a resolute and well organised Old Gold defence, in which the experienced Smothers and Rees were especially commanding. The midfielders too played their part, showing boundless energy and commitment in their efforts to frustrate the opposition’s progress thereby helping to secure a valuable victory and 3 very welcome Welsh Premier League points which lift Town out of the relegation places.