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Captain Bony calms the ship

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By Jonathan Twigg

A MAN of the match performance from Captain Wilfried Bony led the charge for Swansea City on Saturday (Dec 9) when his second goal in consecutive games sealed a dour 1-0 victory on a dark and gloomy afternoon over West Bromwich Albion at the Liberty Stadium.

Securing a valuable three points lifted Paul Clements under pressure Swans side off the foot of the Premier League table as Bony’s winner sparked a chorus of ‘Hymns and Arias’ with nine minutes remaining.

Substitute Tammy Abraham’s effort was cleared off the line at the far post from a Ki Sung-Yueng corner before the Ivory Coast strikers’ driven right foot shot which thundered beyond former England goalkeeper Ben Foster.

The Swans started the game at the foot of the table but took solace from the fact they had won five out of six fixtures when they had been in a similar situation previously. Their visitors hadn’t won a game in the Premier League for four months and were on a run of three consecutive defeats in their travels to West Wales.

The green shirted Albion started brightly keeping the ball and moving it around across the floor much unlike teams who play under their new manager Alan Pardew’s banner.

Without creating opportunities apart from a Jake Livermore shot midway through the half to punish the home side, the play meandered precariously towards stalemate at half time, unsurprisingly perhaps as former Bayern Munich Assistant Manager Paul Clements side had netted just eight goals in 15 league games.

Winger Nathan Dyer drew a foul from Claudio Yacob after 18 minutes which earned him yellow card which proved to be a catalyst for the apprehension surrounding Swansea’s play subsiding for the remainder of the first half as they gained superiority in terms of possession and territory.

The closest they came was when midfielder Livermore headed against his own post from a dipping Tom Carroll free kick as the visitors screened the play well through skipper Jonny Evans and his centre back partner Yacob across the 18 yard box.

Bony’s opportunities were restricted despite midfielders Carroll, Ki and Roque Mesa enterprising combinations  with Dyer and full back Martin Olsson getting behind the opposition defence through the outside channels, where Sam Field collected a yellow card after 35 minutes as he tried to disrupt the inter play.

Centre half Alfie Mawson squandered a great opportunity to head an opening goal when he found space six yards out with seven minutes remaining before Swansea came out for the second half on the front foot.

Bony managed to break the defensive shackles on him with a strong and direct run but pulled a driven shot wide of the post, which added to the derisory tally of 27 shots on target this season for his side, the worst across any of the major European leagues.

Clement’s introduction of Jordan Ayew after 54 minutes for Wayne Routledge injected more spirit and it created opportunities to test Foster, from which Bony drew heart to become an influential figure on the game as the Baggies eventually wilted under the pressure and conceded the only goal.

Tammy Abraham should have sealed the victory in injury time when he was worked free to stride beyond the covering defenders only to wrench his effort wide when one on one with Foster, an effort which the eighteenth created in the match, but only three were on target.

Mesa picked up a second half yellow card as did Carroll before he was replaced by Luciano Narsingh, with Evans and substitute Chris Brunt for the Albion, alongside Welsh striker Hal Robson Kanu as he berated referee Dean on his way off the field to be replaced just before the goal, by Oliver Burke.

The crowd of 19,590 greeted the final whistle knowing they find themselves a point adrift Alan Pardew’s side who hover one place outside the relegation places; two wins would catapult Swansea to mid-table, which would be a welcome festive tonic as the January transfer window opens, allowing Clement an opportunity to re-inforce his squad which for most of this season has looked short on the quality required for survival in the Premier League.

Their first win since October was certainly scrappy where the immaculately dressed Clements’ initial reaction to Bony’s strike was to dance down the touchline coupled with a huge sigh of relief to go with his elation.

The Swansea roadshow heads to Goodison Park on Saturday (Dec 16) to take on an Everton side themselves on a run of four unbeaten games since former England supremo Sam Allardyce took the reins before fellow relegation rivals Crystal Palace arrive at the Liberty for a key Yuletide fixture on Saturday (Dec 23).

Swansea head on the road after Christmas, firstly again to Merseyside to face Liverpool at Anfield on  Boxing Day and Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday (Dec 30) before hosting Tottenham Hotspur at home on Saturday (Jan 2).

Clement and his side will take confidence from Saturday’s victory which has eased the pressure in the cauldron after Club owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien afforded Clement their ‘public support’.

Sport

Street back to winning ways

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BOW Street at last got back to winning ways in the league with a deserved and vital victory over worthy opposition on Saturday (Feb 16).

The visitors were combative opponents and had much of the possession and pressure in a frantic first half. But the home side took the lead after 30 minutes with an early contender for ‘Goal of the season, with a phenomenal 35-yard volley from Tomos Williams.

Bow Street settled after the interval and played far better and threatened the Llandrindod goal numerous times.

The game was finally settled when a sublime through ball from substitute Chris Jones played in Williams for his second goal. It was a solid team effort, with the goalkeeper and defence resolute.

The victory takes Bow Street up to 12th position in the league table.

Manager Barry Williams stated: “We knew it was a must win game and the whole team responded superbly. This will set up the boys nicely hopefully for the crucial next few weeks.”

Team: A Pennock, T Wyn Roberts, G Nutting, L Hughes, R Evans, T Williams, B Jones. O Roberts Young. M Pemberthy, C Ferreira, D Evans. Subs – R ap Owen, C Jones, J James.

On Saturday (Feb 23), they are away to fourth placed Berriew.

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Aber earn first league win since November

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ABERYSTWYTH Town’s season swung upwards on Friday night (Feb 8) at Stebonheath Park as a devastating three goal blitz in six minutes at the end of the first half put the Black and Greens in an unassailable position, and earned them their first League win since November.

Goals from Paolo Mendes (41 mins), Wes Baynes (43 mins) and two from the evergreen Geoff Kellaway (45+2 and 62) saw Town to the Top of the Play Off Conference with Joe Clarke (57 mins) and Joe Hunt (64 mins) responding for the Reds of Llanelli in vain.

After eight games without a win the magnitude of this match was huge for Aber and on a cold and blustery evening the home groundsmen had done a superb job to get the game on.

The Ceredigion men started well with Declan Walker and Wes Baynes putting dangerous balls into the box, and Ash Ruane having a shot blocked. The hosts were also creating chances though as Chris Jones’ effort from a James Loveridge pass was saved.

Mattie Jones’ superb left wing cross then saw Ruane straight through but home keeper Scott Coughlan pulled off a great save to deny the Green Goal Getter. Further quality crosses from Baynes and Jones caused consternation and then Ryan Wollacott, who was superb all night at the back for Town, brought another save from Coughlan with a header.

Loveridge curled a shot narrowly wide for Llanelli but then Baynes went even closer at the other end with a cross shot. Then a series of corners turned the game, and maybe even Aber’s entire season. First Jones’ corner reached Mendes at the back stick to head home.

Ruane’s shot was then deflected over for another corner, and Baynes’ cute delivery curled right into the top corner.

Four minutes later Aber were in dreamland as Kellaway found the bottom corner with a superb strike from the right hand side, and with the visiting fans signing for joy clinical Aber went in three goals to the good.

Playing against the wind in the second half the visitors continued to press without really creating too many openings. However, two former Black and Green players combined as Chris Jones crossed for Clarke to head Llanelli back into the game.

The next goal appeared crucial as the game opened up and Jones just failed to find Loveridge with a cut back which would surely have caused huge problems for Aber.

As it happens the hard working Marc Williams found the bye line at the other end and cut back for Kellaway to stab home a killer fourth, and surely the game was over?

However with the next move Joe Hunt’s free kick curled right into the corner of Terry McCormick’s net and it was 4-2.

A hugely open game continued apace and Aber’s Superb Singing Fans inspired their team forward. Kellaway burst through down the left but was denied a hat trick by Coughlan, and then Ryan “The Rock” Wollacott cleared off the line with the hosts threatening a comeback.

With five minutes of injury time indicated sub Joe Dyer sent a great chance over for Llanelli, and Aber held on for a priceless win.

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Aber up to fourth after beating Llangwm

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ABERAERON continued their march up the table as they earned a 55-0 victory at home to Llangwm on Saturday (Feb 9).

The Ceredigion side now sit fourth in the table just two points behind third place Haverfordwest with three games in hand as well.

As expected the outcome was never really in doubt with the bonus point win top of the agenda for Justin Lloyd and his coaching team.

True to form, it was the home side first out of the blocks, putting the visitors defence under considerable pressure in the opening phases.

They were rewarded for the enterprise with a try for wing Dyfrig Dafis with an excellent conversion against the elements by Rhodri Jenkins.

A competent Llangwm rearguard coupled with some unforced errors by the hosts reduced opportunities until midway in the opening period until no 8 Tudur Jenkins benefited from forward domination to cross for his 9th try of the campaign.

With forward play becoming more evident as the game progressed the front row of Ceri Davies, Sion Evans and Matt Roberts ably supported by second rows Daf Lloyd and captain Gethin Hughes paved the way for flanker Gethin Dafis to record his second double in a week with Jenkins adding a conversion giving Aberaeron a 24 point advantage at the break.

It did not take long after the restart for further scores with Morgan Llewelyn the benefactor again ably converted by Jenkins. With the result never in doubt the introduction of several subs brought immediate benefit as prop Owain Wozencraft bulldozed his way over the line after receiving his first pass.

The added conversion by Jenkins was followed by another double, this time by centre Ollie Sawyer, a due reward for a stalwart both in attack and defence.

The final score by wing Rhodri Thomas added icing on the cake and the conversion by Jenkins brought a tally of 10 points for the outside half.

It will be fourth versus fifth this Saturday (Feb 16), as Aber host Laugharne in what will prove a good test for the Ceredigion side.

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