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Team of the week: Haverfordwest County

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team of the weekFootball Club was formed on December 7, 1899 and changed the name early in its history to Haverfordwest Town.

Most of the team’s fixtures in those early days were friendly matches, but the club gained membership of the Pembrokeshire League before the First World War.

The senior team moved up to the Welsh Football League in 1936, and they became known as Haverfordwest Athletic.

Haverfordwest Athletic remained in the lower reaches until 1955/56 when they won the First Division title and gained promotion to the Premier Division. The following season, the team won the Welsh League title, with the legendary Stan Richards starring in the side.

It was at this point in their history that the present name of Haverfordwest County was adopted. County remained in the Premier Division, finishing as runners-up in 1969-70 and 1970-71, until a disastrous 1975/76 season saw them relegated.

The club just missed out on success for the following two seasons but, at the third attempt, comfortably won promotion to the top flight once more. A highly successful 1980/81 season enabled County to take the championship in their first year back, losing only five games.

In 1983, the League was restructured and the National Division’ created. In the nine years existence of the National Division, Haverfordwest County only once finished outside a top six position, but the championship eluded them.

County’s pedigree during the 1980s made them prime candidates for membership of the League of Wales in 1992/93. In that first season they finished comfortably in mid-table and consolidated their status the following season.

At this point in 1994, however, other influences came to bear. An offer to buy their Bridge Meadow ground had come from the Safeway Supermarket chain. This offer included the construction of a new ground and County decided this was the way to go.

County have an excellent new stadium, the New Bridge Meadow, and enjoyed three seasons back in the Welsh League in which they were twice runners-up and, in 1996/97, deserved champions.

Those three years brought seventy league victories and only 16 defeats in over a century of matches. Each season County notched more than a hundred league goals (335 in total!) and, by the time they rejoined the League of Wales in August 1997, the club was well set to continue where they had left off.

1997/98 was a difficult term for Haverfordwest County, and relegation was being accepted following a run of twelve games up to Easter in which they failed to register a victory. That all changed with a 2-1 home win against Connah’s Quay Nomads. The following season began brightly as, based on the goalscoring achievements of Paul Burrows and Richard Gay, Haverfordwest challenged the early-season league leaders. Successive victories by 7-2, 2-0 and 5-2, thanks to a couple of hat-tricks from Gay, put County in fourth place, though a slump was to follow.

Nevertheless, the team performed well enough to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.Placed 15th in 1999/2000, County improved to finish 10th the following season.

The next campaign saw the former Norwich City and Wrexham defender Deryn Brace appointed player-manager and despite finishing the season next to bottom, County retained League of Wales membership.Season 2002/3 saw some improvement, but in 2003/4 the Bluebirds became the surprise package of the league, finishing in third place and qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

However, a cash crisis in 2005/6 saw the departure of several keys players. A new administration aimed at rescuing the Club from extinction began their task in January 2006 and the club stabilised its position to finish eighth in the league.

A poor start to the 2006/07 season saw manager Deryn Brace step down and he was replaced by former Manchester United and Cardiff City defender Derek Brazil who guided a young side to a mid-table position at the end of his first season in charge. In Brazil’s second season at the Bridge Meadow, Haverfordwest County improved to eighth in the league, and in the following season finished 7th on goal difference, whilst keeping 10 clean sheets during the campaign.

Over the past few years the directors of Haverfordwest County AFC Limited, a company that was formed in June 2006, have managed to engage new sponsors and much help from local businesses. The financial situation at the club is now healthy and the erection of a new stand was completed in time for the 2009-10 season.

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Boxer set to compete in Germany

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Return: Ben Rees-Davies returns to Germany this weekend

CARDIGAN light-welterweight boxer Ben Rees-Davies returns to the scene of his greatest performance this week (Oct 19-22) when he competes in the prestigious Eindhoven Box Cup in Germany.

Seventeen months ago, the talented 25-year-old acquitted himself superbly by winning a bronze medal in a tournament which invariably draws some of the finest amateurs in Europe and the world.

Rees-Davies – a lance corporal in the Royal Welsh Regiment – eventually lost in the semi-finals to Russian number one Arman Zakaryan, the 2015 European champion and an Olympic qualifier.

A series of injuries mean that the former Cardigan ABC man has not boxed since losing in the Welsh Championships quarter-finals in March.

But Rees-Davies says he is now fully fit, fuelled by the nagging belief he has never quite fulfilled his potential – and by the fact he may soon have to hang up his gloves.

“I’m entered into an 18-man strong group with boxers from all over the world, it’s a Commonwealth Games qualifying tournament so there will be a fantastic pedigree of boxers,” he told the Herald.

“I’ve had a few frustrating injuries since the Welsh Championships so I haven’t been active, but if anything it’s made me more hungry to get back in the ring and achieve big things this year.

“For me it’s a massive season, and it could be my last so I’m aiming to achieve as much as I can and show my true potential once and for all.”

Rees-Davies said the time was approaching when he would have to focus wholeheartedly on his Army career.

He explained: “I want to progress with promotion. I love boxing with all my heart, but I have to think of my career also.”

He said he was ‘eternally grateful’ to long-time friend Anthony Studley, of Hair Lounge 4 Men in Cardigan – himself a former Cardigan ABC boxer – for helping him with funding.

“I massively appreciate help from him and he’s a credit to the town,” he said.

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Aber knocked out by Reds

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Battle: Aberaeron and Llanelli players go for the ball​

Aberaeron • 1
Llanelli Town • 6
JD Welsh Cup

LLANELLI T​OWN proved too strong for Aberaeron ​last Saturday (Oct 7), as they were knocked out of the JD Welsh Cup by their Welsh League Division 1 opponents.

With the pitch looking immaculate the scene was set for a memorable cup tie but unfortunately that dream only lasted five minutes.

Aberaeron, who have regularly conceded easy goals from lost possession​,​ were left in no doubt that it should be safety first.

A cleared defensive header from an early corner for Llanelli should have been dealt with but possession was lost and a quick cross was easily headed in to the net.

Before Aberaeron could settle, Llanelli’s star player Lee Trundle beat three players to give himself a sight on goal and he thundered an unstoppable shot in off the underside of the bar.

Aberaeron woke up and Matty Davies was twice through on goal but no end product. Llanelli were passing well and Lee Trundle found himself one on one against Sion Clark. He turned cleverly leaving the defender in his wake and was unceremoniously upended for a clear penalty. Trundle drove it hard to the keeper’s left for number three.

Once more Aberaeron came in to the game, but passes were awry and often intercepted. A long clearance from Llanelli was not caught by Edwards, the Aberaeron keeper and the ball was easily tapped in to an empty net​.​

The second half was an attempt at a pride salvaging operation and Aberaeron gave a good account of themselves without finding the opponents net.

Trundle was kept at bay for the majority of the half but his trickery once more led to him being fouled in the box and he, once more, slammed the ball to the keeper’s left for five nil.

Aberaeron did get a consolation goal from the penalty spot from Matty Davies before another calamitous defending error gave Llanelli a sixth.

The score did not truly reflect the game but it reflects the ruthlessness of an ex professional striker who, clearly writes his own headlines- quite deservedly.

For Aberaeron, these are worrying times and the next three fixtures are ‘must wins’.

If Aberaeron cannot eradicate the problem of losing simple possession then it’s going to a long and very difficult season.

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Aber climb off the bottom

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Chance: Ryan Wade comes close with a chance for Aber

Aberystwyth Town • 0
Barry Town • 0

ABERYSTWYTH TOWN earned themselves a point to climb off the bottom of the JD Welsh Premier League table last Saturday afternoon (Oct 7), as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Barry Town United at Park Avenue.

Both sides missed good opportunities to win the game in the second half, but the game ended in stalemate as both managers settled for a point apiece.

Aber manager Nev Powell made one change to the starting line-up from Tuesday’s Nathaniel MG Cup defeat to Airbus UK Broughton, with John Owen replacing Cledan Davies, which meant Mathew Jones started at left back for the first time in his Black and Greens’ career.

Both sides started the game cautiously, with the game lacking any real rhythm through the first 15 minutes. Barry came closest to opening the scoring on 16 minutes, as Chris Mullock somehow pulled off an instinctive point-blank save from Kayne Mclaggon’s close range shot.

Mclaggon was forced off through injury shortly afterwards, and Macauley Southam fired a long-range effort over the bar for the visitors.

Aber continued to struggle to get any threatening attacking play going, with Ryan Wade shooting well wide of the post on separate occasions.

The half time whistle could not come soon enough for the 233 spectators at Park Avenue.

The first 15 minutes of the second half again proved to be rather uninspiring for the neutrals, as both sides struggled to create clear-cut chances.

On 60 minutes, Aber’s midfield maestro Malcolm Melvin, and soon after striker Craig Hobson were introduced in place of Ryan Wollacott and Joe Phillips, with manager Nev Powell looking for some fresh impetus from his side.

Aber began to slowly crank up the pressure on the visitors’ rear guard, as Ryan Wade shot straight at Barry keeper Mike Lewis, before Hobson almost converted an in-swinging Ashley Young free kick.

Barry themselves continues to look dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of wide men Tyrrell Webbe and Drew Fahiya, but on 87 minutes Aber again came close to the breakthrough as Hobson headed Wade’s cross into the side-netting.

Aber looked for one last chance as the game headed into three minutes of added time, and they very nearly found the winner in the dying seconds as right back Declan Walker brought the ball down from the sky and fired a low shot towards goal, only for it to hit the outside of the post.

This was another occasion where Aber have to settle for a point when it could so easily have been three, but manager Nev Powell will take encouragement from the organisation and defensive qualities his side showed today, keeping their first clean sheet in the league this season.

Town now turn their attentions to their next JD Welsh Premier League fixture away to Llandudno, on Saturday (Oct 14).

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