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Fifty four year dream of FA Cup glory remains for Swans



SWANSEA City continued their Emirates FA Cup run on Tuesday (Feb 27) when they defeated Sheffield Wednesday 2-0, progressing to the Quarter Final stage for the first time since 1964 thanks to goals from substitute striker Jordan Ayew and winger Nathan Dyer.

The Owls were also defeated in that nostalgic cup run at Hillsborough, as were footballing giants Liverpool at Anfield and Stoke City, before the Swans succumbed to Preston North End in the Semi Final at Villa Park.

This game at the Liberty Stadium saw the home fans in the crowd of 8198 warmed not only by the result but also the gesture of the club offering free hot drinks to warm the cockles of their heart on a Baltic night.

Manager Carlos Carvalhal was at his unequivocal best post-match against a side to whom his endearment is visible, despite their parting of ways in December, as he looked with positivity towards the remaining three months of the season.

It took 20 minutes to create an opportunity as players were content to play the ball across the pitch as opposed to taking the game to the opposition, Ki and Carroll combing from a free kick, which kick-started a purple patch for the Swans in terms of possession, to no avail as Nordfelt in goal made a double save with fifteen minutes of the half remaining.

Clucas made an acrobatic attempt to open the scoring when perhaps a simple header back across goal may have put Abraham in, as the on loan Chelsea striker nearly manufactured an opening for Dyer, making his three hundred and second appearance for the whites.

Ki had the penultimate offering for a breakthrough in an uninspiring half, departing at half time as Carvalhal boldly changed personnel with Martin Olsson and Jordan Ayew appearing, their impact immediate in upping the tempo of play in the twenty ninth meeting between the two sides.

Ten minutes into the half the stalemate was broken, Carroll driving forward hit a rasping drive from edge of the box, hitting both posts for the ball to skew into Ayew’s path for a tap in from ten yards, the Wednesday defence looking at sixes and sevens since the Ghanaian’s arrival.

Ayew’s ninth goal of the season had also ignited Abraham, his a sixty first minute shot saved by Pope before six foot six inch Kosovan Atdhe Nuhiu made an appearance.

Wednesday may have reached the final on five occasions, the last in 1997 and lifted the prestigious trophy three times lacked any fruitful response, where cup football is all about putting the ball in the net, which Swansea did and kept a pleasing clean sheet, as Van De Hoorn was dominant at the back alongside youngster Cameron Roberts.

The second and decisive goal came from Dyer after Abraham set him up with a slick through ball and the winger nutmegged Pope from ten yards out, his final action of the night as fans favourite Leon Britton returned to action for the first time in 2018.

Ayew had an opportunity to add to the Swans tally of thirteen goals in the cup campaign with two minutes of referees Stuart Attwell’s watch remaining, Carvalhal immediately turning his focus to a crucial Premier League encounter on Saturday (Mar 3) when West Ham United visit the Liberty Stadium with just three points separating the sides in the battle for survival in the Premier League.

Unlike Greenfield FC player coach Keith Ainsworth, who was goaded into brandishing a pitchfork in the dugout of their game at Barmouth last weekend, Carvalhal can wallow safe in the knowledge he has the support of the Jack Army as he fulfils both his and their dreams of being happy, one win from Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur the visitors on Saturday (Mar 17) for the Quarter Final tie.

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Evans at the double for Roosters



PENRHYNCOCH earned a fifth win of the season on Saturday (Mar 17) as they came from behind to beat FC Queens Park 3-1 in the Huws Gray Alliance.

The Roosters were forced to make a change in goal before the match as regular keeper Leigh Jenkins was ruled out through illness and Freddie Thomas was called in to replace him.

The home side made a bright start to the match as they put pressure on the Queens Park defence.

With sixteen minutes gone, Jonathan Evans won a free kick which Cledan Davies took but the ball went just wide of the posts.

Jonathan Evans is tackled by the Queens Park keeper

Moments later, Thomas was called in to action as Queens Park broke quickly and Shaun Cartwright sent a low drive towards goal which was pushed away by Thomas.

With twenty minutes gone a good move from the visitors found Tom Williams who was through on goal and he finished well to make it 1-0.

The home side responded well to going behind as they won a series of corners and Liam Lewis sent a header just over the bar.

Jonathan Evans then found himself in space but the Queens Park keeper came out and timed his challenge well to steal the ball.

At the other end, Queens Park won a corner but the Roosters were unable to clear and Jon Foligno had to be alert to block the rebound.

The Roosters finally got their equaliser shortly before the break when Evans spotted the Queens Park keeper off his line and he lobbed the ball in from 40 yards out to make it 1-1.

Shortly before half time Queens Park were reduced to ten men as a last ditch tackle brought down Evans in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.

Evans picked himself up and sent the penalty down the middle to make it 2-1 and put the home side in command.

They strengthened their grip on the game just three minutes in to the second half as Elian Davies saw a shot blocked on the line but he then laid the ball off for Steff Davies who tapped in to make it 3-1.

Cledan Davies delivers a corner in the snow

Snow had started falling on the Cae Baker pitch which made things difficult for both sets of teams but the Roosters controlled the game well.

Just after the hour mark, a corner found Carwyn Jones on the edge of the box but his shot went over the bar.

Tom Williams looked to get Queens Park back in the game but Elian Davies did well to keep him out and clear the danger.

It was nearly four for the home side with eight minutes to go but a brilliant fingertip save from the Queens Park keeper prevented sub Liam Doherty from scoring.

Queens Park continued to attack but came up against a determined Penrhyncoch defence and the home side were able to see the game out comfortably.

The win for the Roosters means they are now eighteen points above second from bottom Queens Park in the table.

They will be going for another win on Saturday (Mar 24), as they take on bottom side Llandudno Junction.

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Eriksen’s sublime brace sends Spurs through



By Jonathan Twigg

THE first-ever FA Cup meeting between Swansea and Tottenham on Saturday (Mar 17) saw the Welsh wizards unceremoniously dismantled in the quarter final, their first in fifty four years thanks to a sublime performance from midfielder Christian Eriksen in a 3-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

The North London aristocrats arrived with their usual pomp and ceremony and left South Wales in the knowledge the hosts will not be invading Wembley, Spurs temporary home ground as White Hart Lane is refurbished, although post-match, manager Carlos Carvalhal diminished any thoughts the result would impact on his goal of premier league survival.

Around the time of the Swans last foray into the latter stages of the FA Cup, Cliff Richard and the Shadows had a number one hit single ‘Summer Holiday’, where the fun and laughter of a summer holiday left no worries for me or you’, despite there being no further welsh involvement as Spurs became the first side since Southend United in 1976 to win two games against Welsh opposition in an FA Cup run.

‘We’re going where the sun shines brightly, we’re going where the sea is blue; Swans fans have seen it in the movies and but will now have to wait at least another season to savour the atmosphere and occasion of Wembley in an FA Cup tie.

Perhaps memories of a tough tackling wing back from the post war period can be dusted off; Arthur Willis, capped once for his country against France and part of the Spurs 1950 Division 1 winning side, the Yorkshire man signed for Swansea Town in 1954 and made 96 appearances before journeying further west to take up the reigns as player manager of Haverfordwest County at the Bridge Meadow.

Willis, who died in the Town in 1987 aged 67 brought a professionalism to the Welsh league side where he was able to coerce the best local talent amongst those more seasoned campaigners from up the line.

Local rivals Pembroke Boro had lifted the title in two of the previous three years before the Bluebirds were successful for the first time in 1956/7, something the Pembrokeshire public wouldn’t witness again until 1980/1, Willis mantra like that which Pochettino has seen evolve at Spurs.

Referee Kevin Friend oversaw the fixture with a bitterly cold north westerly wind swirling around as the dark blue shirted visitors kicked off with the Video Assistant Referee Stuart Attwell in place for subjective decisions, an early call being Nathan Dyer being felled in the area by goalkeeper Michel Vorm in a strong but fair challenge, after a fantastic through ball from Tammy Abraham.

The opening goal came after 11 minutes midfielder Eriksen curled a peach of a left foot strike beyond Nortfeldt after exchanging passes with Lamela having been given the freedom of the Swansea as he was unchallenged in moving 30 yards forward.

Tottenham’s quality from playing football in tight pockets nearly drew a second goal when a long winded VAR review stood by the Assistant Referees call of offside as the match was certainly a one sided affair.

With ten minutes left of the opening half Dyer and Clucas raised the home crowd of 17498 expectations an interlude, Ericksons left foot drive getting a fingertip save from Nordfelt and Dier spooning a header over from six yards.

McNaughton, tentative against his former side was disposed of possession as the game meandered into injury time, with Lamela placing a classy right foot shot beyond Nordfelt, the game and Swansea’s foray into a potential semi-final ended.

Carvalhal, mercurial in his analysis called Narsingh off the bench for McNaughton after the half time oranges, Olsson immediately pulling a blinding save off former Swansea goal stopper Vorm, who like Lazarus was off the ground to save a point blank diving header from Abraham.

Dier drew an equally stunning save from Nordfelt at full stretch all within five minutes of the restart where Swansea had some bite in their game, coming on the front foot until Erickson killed the game just after the hour following some sustained build up play.

Spurs are on their way to Wembley, home from home for their supporters, the first time since 1981/2 when they have reached back to back semi-finals. Reflective as the Spurs go marching on that maybe the suitcase required for the summer holiday was not a realistic thought, Carvalhal having greater plans and better destinations than Wembley.

Supporters can rekindle the romance of the Cup, former Police Chief Superintendent John Daniels a mere 14 year old Ammanford schoolboy when he followed the path to Villa Park in 1964.

Much water has travelled down the river since those halcyon days for John, a potential blockbuster role in the pipeline if the book on ‘Seal Bay’ makes the cinema screens.

Now brandishing a white lining on top, more than a fair splattering of snow, he will have to wait a little longer for a trip to Wembley, his suitcase holding the memories of yesteryear and perhaps more importantly the faith he holds in Carvalhal’s renaissance, a true Jack to a King story.

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Twins warm up with fine victories



CRYMYCH boxing twins Ioan and Garan Croft warmed up for the forthcoming Welsh championships with fine victories in a Wales Select v England Select tournament at the Hampshire Court Hotel, Basingstoke.

Southpaw Ioan overcame weight issues to win on a split decision against Scott Melvin, an opponent 18 months his senior, in a 56kg contest.

Garan also won on a split against Donte Dixon, a strong opponent almost two years older than his Cardigan ABC rival after boxing him from long range for much of their encounter.

Promising Fishguard schoolboy boxer Mikey O’Sullivan also registered another impressive win recently.

Pitted against Evan Williams (Cwmavon Hornets) at the Pengry Road Social club, Loughor, the Cardigan ABC boxer came out flying, almost overwhelming his opponent and giving him a standing eight count in the first and second rounds.

Williams managed to regroup in the last round, but O’Sullivan had already done enough to win by a unanimous decision.

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