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Swans still sweet on Premier League survival

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By Jonathan Twigg

SWANSEA’s clamber through the trials and tribulations of the Premier League can be compared to that of a child running amok in a sweet shop, so many tantalising favourites to devour, with the occasional reminder that not all sweets are sweet.

A retro walk down the Bridge Meadow Lane would have taken a child past the shop run by Connie Clarke, renowned for her welcome on the bell clanging. Supporters of Haverfordwest County and their opponents on match day, welcomed with few words but with the knowledge her confectionary delights never failed to deliver.

Following Saturday’s (Apr 14) 1-1 draw with Everton, who arrived without former Swans stars Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson in their line-up, supporters left knowing the sweet taste of success held by the Premier League is still within their grasp.

With two of the bottom three to visit the Liberty in the final week of the season this point is one gained in search of extending their Premier League status to an eighth season, although manager Carlos Carvalhal nearly led his side to five consecutive home wins, something no other manager has done since the heady days of John Toshack in 1981.

Swansea welcomed Jordan Ayew back from a three game suspension to partner elder brother Andre as Bolton based referee Lee Mason began the game in front of 20,933, the returning brother setting the tone alongside Andy King at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium.

Carvalhal has worked some magic since his arrival on the cusp of Christmas, tactically leaving opposite number former England supremo Sam Allerdyce to venture to the touchline with his pocket ball side kick Sammy Lee to stem the tide; the blues were overrun in midfield, Jordan Ayew having a wonderful chance cleared off the line as was captain Frederico Fernadez header from the resultant corner, before Andre’s sight of goal was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Alfie Mawson has grown to be imperial at the back for the Swans, attracting the interest of Manchester United, one of those mints that the longer you savour, the better it lingers. Luciano Narsingh however can be likened more to a quickly dissolving peppermint cream, releasing the taste with speed, rousing the Jack Army with an immediate hit, succulent whilst it lasts, inspiring the Swans to drive forward.

Former England captain Wayne Rooney had one of those games, like an aniseed ball, many unable to relish his taste as he left his mark, literally with some raking tackles; his class, undoubted, when it finally came to the fore.

An opening goal came with the aid of goal line technology, just before half time, Lucas Fabianski brilliantly making a double save from Bolasie, before a ricochet off Kyle Naughton and a half time lead, Fabianski thankfully however saving from Cenk Tosun a minute later.

Jordan became the first recipient of a yellow card in the second half, substitute Nathan Dyer creating a stir as the game went up by a level with a sugar surge, the vocal chords tingled with honey from a locket, in the form of striker Tammy Abraham’s arrival.

Full backs McNaughton and Martin Olsson created chances, Tom Carroll serving buckets of sweet balls, to no avail; Dyer driving forward over from twenty yards, Abraham and the Ayews creating half chances, Mawson’s header cleared off the line before the full quarter was served, Jordan levelling the game with a right foot half volley.

The final fifteen minutes rocked the stadium once more, after dinner mints were all Swansea’s, although Seamus Coleman thundered a shot against the woodwork, Abraham missed a gilt edged opportunity at the other end, whilst a tall and well positioned defensive wall directed Rooney’s set piece opportunity over the bar.

Extra strong mints were needed, alas unavailable as the toffees held firm, not fudging their lines with Beni Baningime taking a yellow card for the team, the games conclusion seeing a share of the spoils.

Carvalhal’s magic stars will have to be at their best to out fox and unwrap three points on Sunday (Apr 22) when opponents Manchester City will have champagne liquor chocolates on hand, having been crowned Premier League champions.

Swansea then have the opportunity to welcome Chelsea to ‘fortress’ Liberty the week after; wispa it quietly, as many have their eyes on the final weeks’ trio of games, starting with a trip to the South Coast in search of the bounty available at Dean Park, Bournemouth, before a starburst performance at home to Southampton on the Tuesday and Stoke City for a final day picnic. There can be no wine gums on show, just the everlasting gobstopper which is Premier League football.

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Sport

Strange double-ton stuns Commoners

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IT was a high scoring weekend in the West Wales Cricket Conference as over 1300 runs were scored across the three games.

Six-hundred of those runs came in one game on Saturday (Jun 9), as Aberaeron scored 306-4 to overcome the UWA Commoners’ score of 305-6 in what was a thrilling game.

Aberaeron won the toss and elected to field but the Commoners blasted their way past 300 runs as Umar Aslam top scored with an excellent knock of 154 which included 11 fours and 12 sixes.

Neil Stent and Rakesh Bhatia had earlier scored 23 and 26 respectively in an opening stand of 43 but after both had gone, Aslam and Jacob Hughes-Pickering shared 122 runs for the third wicket.

Hughes-Pickering was out for 24 but Aslam and Will Copeland shared another good stand of 83 as they closed in on a triple-century of runs.

Copeland was bowled by Jacob Jenkinson on a score of 21 before Aslam’s remarkable innings came to an end when he was stumped by J Fice off the bowling of Hywel Rees.

A late score of 17 from Ian Lawton then saw the Commoners to their total of 305-6 off their 40 overs.

Aberaeron knew they would need to bat well if they were to get close to their target but when they lost opener J Fice and Jacob Jenkins early on, things did not look good for the home side.

David Grinszpan scored 31 but he was then run out by Neil Stent and Aberaeron were 80-3.

Chris Strange and Steff Rees then swung the game in Aber’s favour as they shared 179 runs for the fourth wicket.

Steff Rees was the next man out when he was bowled by Ian Lawton for a score of 36 which included three fours and two sixes.

Strange had made his way to an equally remarkable double-century as he hit 24 fours and 14 sixes in his score of 204 not out which saw Aberaeron over the line.

Also on Saturday, Talybont earned victory over Aberystwyth Seconds by 67 runs.

Talybont batted first and after losing openers Ben Harper and Josheff Joshi cheaply, Huw Chambers and Graison John took control.

John hit six fours in a knock of 37 before he was caught by Ioan Morris off the bowling of Nigel Salmon.

Philip Abraham then made an identical score before he was caught and bowled by Amlyn Ifans.

Chambers also hit six fours in his knock of 52 before he was caught by Rob Rudge off the bowling of Morris.

Dave Barrow made 21 before being bowled by Salmon and G Smith finished not out on 34 (two fours, three sixes) as he guided Talybont to their total of 220-7.

Aber Seconds also lost opener Nigel Salmon early when he was trapped leg before by Abraham who also bowled Amlyn Ifans.

Zaid Khan did not last long at the crease either as he caught by Sojan Varghese off the bowling of Josheff Joshi.

Opener Ted Trewella made his way to a score of 43 but he was then caught by Abraham off the bowling of Graison John.

John also dismissed Tom Constantine for a score of 20 and James Breese for a score of 18 as Aber Seconds chances began to fade.

Titus Mathew was bowled by Dave Barrow before John returned to bowl Bryn Morris and Ioan Morris was caught off his bowling.

Rob Rudge had finished not out on 19 but Aber seconds were all out for 153 as Talybont earned victory.

There was a close game on Sunday (Jun 10) as Aberystwyth’s first team secured a narrow 10-run win over Tywyn and District.

Aber batted first after winning the toss and they made 167-6 in their 40 overs.

Ceri John made 17 as he opened the innings before he was caught by Matthew Maslin off the bowling of Richard Rees.

Mel Jones score 19 but was also caught by Dylan Williams off the bowling of Ed Hughes.

James Breese batted well for Aber as he made his way to a score of 53 before he was caught by Dave Jenkins off the bowling of Hughes.

Tom Constantine and Ifan Thomas both scored 18 before they fell to the bowling of Callum Taylor and Ed Hughes respectively.

Robert Rudge and Dafydd Jones finished the innings unbeaten as they steered Aber to their total.

Tywyn then did their best to overhaul Aber’s total and they made a good start as Callum Taylor and Richard Rees shared 89 runs for the first wicket.

However, when Rees fell to the bowling of Titus Mathew for a score of 15, wickets began to fall at regular intervals.

Taylor had made an excellent score of 67 but was caught by Dafydd Jones off the bowling of Breese.

Mathew also had Jack Mynard stumped and Gareth Lewis had Dave Jenkins caught for a score of 12.

Breese had the wickets of Dan Williams (0), Jamie Tomkins (5), and Ted Hughes (0), as he finished with good figures of 4-20 from his nine overs.

Matthew Maslin made a late score of 10 before he was out to the bowling of Anthony Evans and his wicket brought the game to a close with Tywyn ten runs short on 157.

Those results mean that Aberaeron now lead the West Wales by two points from the Commoners. Aberystwyth sit third with Talybont close behind in fourth.

On Saturday (Jun 16), Talybont host the UWA Commoners. On Sunday (Jun 17), Aberystwyth Seconds host Aber’s first team and Tywyn take on Aberaeron.

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Sport

Thomas-Wheeler debuts at Centre for Wales U20

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EIGHTEEN-year-old centre Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler will make his Wales U20 debut tomorrow against Japan at the Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan (17:30 BST).

Wales U18 international Thomas-Wheeler made his Guinness Pro14 debut for Ospreys at the end of April, and is one of nine new players in the starting team. He will line up alongside experienced centre Ioan Nicholas, whose fellow Scarlet, Corey Baldwin, moves from 13 to 14.

Scrum-half Harri Morgan gets his first start of the World Rugby U20 Championship, as does his Ospreys teammate Dewi Cross (wing), who made his debut on Sunday against New Zealand.

There is a wholesale change in the front row, where loosehead Rhys Davies (Scarlets) and hooker Dewi Lake (Ospreys) make their first start of the tournament. Tighthead Chris Coleman (Dragons) returns from the injury which ruled him out of the first two pool games.

There is also an all-new second row, with Bridgend’s Jack Pope and Scarlets’ Lewis Ellis-Jones getting their first starts in France. Likewise Dragons youngster Lennon Greggains, the new man in the back row packing down at openside.

Another Dragons back rower, Ben Fry, could make his debut from the bench, while Max Llewellyn – called up to the squad for the injured Rio Dyer – is also among the replacements.

“The new boys in the team have been chomping at the bit for a game, and the way they’ve been training has reflected that,” said head coach Geraint Lewis. “They’ve kept their focus and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do. There’s a combination of experience in the team, with a freshness brought by the incoming players – all of whom are hungry to do well in Perpignan.”

Wales U20 v Japan U20 will be shown live on the S4C channel, website and Facebook page.

Wales U20 team to face Japan:

15 Cai Evans (Ospreys)

14 Corey Baldwin (Scarlets)

13 Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets)

12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (Ospreys)

11 Dewi Cross (Ospreys)

10 Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues)

9 Harri Morgan (Ospreys)

1 Rhys Davies (Scarlets)

2 Dewi Lake (Ospreys)

3 Chris Coleman (Dragons)

4 Lewis Ellis-Jones (Scarlets)

5 Jack Pope (Bridgend)

6 Tommy Reffell (c) (Leicester Tigers)

7 Lennon Greggains (Dragons)

8 Taine Basham (Dragons)

Replacements

16 Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues)

17 Iestyn Harris (Cardiff Blues)

18 Rhys Henry (Ospreys)

19 Max Williams (Dragons)

20 Ben Fry (Dragons)

21 Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues)

22 Ben Thomas (Cardiff Blues)

23 Max Llewellyn (Cardiff Blues)

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Wins for Commoners and Aberaeron

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Commoners thump Aber

ABERYSTWYTH University Commoners proved too strong for Aberystwyth on Saturday (Jun 2), as they came away with a 181-run victory.

Aberystwyth won the toss and elected to field but openers Neil Stent and Rakesh Bhatia shared 43 runs for the first wicket. Bhatia hit two fours and two sixes in a knock of 26 but he was then run out by Titus Mathew.

Stent was joined at the crease by Abhishek Somani and the pair shared an excellent partnership of 173 runs to take the Commoners past 200.

The partnership eventually came to an end when Stent was bowled by Mathew for a score of 85 which included seven fours.

Somani stroked fourteen fours and a six as he made a magnificent century before being caught by J Cordy off the bowling of Ceri John for a score of 105.

That left the Commoners 235-3 and Jacob Hughes-Pickering fell soon after for a score of eight when he was caught by Steffan Davies off the bowling of Aled Lewis as Aber looked to hit back.

Umar Aslam made 10 before he was bowled by Aled Lewis and Tim Hughes was stumped by Rob Rudge off the bowling of John for a score of 5.

Bill Somerfield was caught and bowled by Zaid Khan while Ian Lawton finished not out on 15 (two fours) to help his side to a mammoth total of 273-7.

Aberystwyth knew they faced a tough test if they were to reach their target but they made the worst possible start.

Umar Aslam bowled opener Ceri John for a duck and he then trapped Nigel Salmon leg before for another duck.

Ian Lawton joined in and when he had J Cordy caught by Rakesh Bhatia without scoring, Aber had slipped to 0-3.

Aled Lewis was also caught and bowled by Aslam for a score of 6 as Aber did eventually get off the mark and Ted Trewella was caught by Tim Hughes off the bowling of Lawton for a score of 2, leaving Aber on 13-5.

Mel Jones and Zaid Khan did their best to steady the ship as they shared 45 runs for the sixth wicket. Khan was bowled by Guy Baron for a score of 23 which included four fours.

Baron also bowled Steffan Davies for a duck while Owen Keyworth was bowled by Aiden Reveley for another duck.

Rob Rudge was caught by Bhatia off the bowling of Reveley without scoring and Aber knew they were staring at a heavy defeat.

Mel Jones and Titus Mathew finished not out on 39 and 13 respectively, with six boundaries between them, as Aber finished on 99-9.

 

Aberaeron keep the pressure on

ABERAERON kept the pressure on leaders Aber University Commoners with a 31-run victory over Talybont on Saturday (Jun 2).

Talybont won the toss and elected to field and they did well to restrict Aber to 218 all out.

J Fice fell early on when he was caught by Sojan Varghese off the bowling of Graison John for a score of 4.

David Grinszpan and Chris Strange then shared 65 runs for the second wicket before Strange was bowled by Josheff Joshi for a score of 33 which included five fours and a six.

Grinszpan fell soon after when he was run out having hit four boundaries in a knock of 31.

Steff and Hywel Rees then shared another good partnership of 54 as Aberaeron continued to bat well.

Steff hit three fours in a knock of 27 but was then caught by Varghese off the bowling of Tibby Joseph.

Hywel Rees and Alexander Pitchford then put on 56 runs for the fifth wicket as Aberaeron edged towards 200 runs.

Rees had made an excellent half century with nine fours but was then run out by Phillip Abraham for a score of 52.

Pitchford fell soon after for a score of 26 when he was caught by Joseph off the bowling of John.

Wickets then began to fall at regular intervals as Dave Floyd was caught by Varghese off the bowling of Abraham and he later bowled Paul Hughes.

Graison John had Louis Fice and Mark Gleason bowled as the innings came to a close with Aberaeron all out on 218.

Neil Snowdon had hit two fours and a six in a knock of 20 but he ran out of partners but Aber left the field thinking they should have scored more.

Talybont made a good start in their reply as Ben Harper scored 18 before he was caught by Mark Gleason off the bowling of Hywel Rees.

Rees then trapped Dave Shaun leg before and he also bowled Josheff Joshi. Graison John played well in his knock of 47 but he was caught by Steff Rees off the bowling of Paul Hughes.

Hughes then bowled Philip Abraham for a score of 17 as the game began to slip away from the home side.

Tibby Joseph was run out by Hywel Rees for a score of 2 leaving Talybobnt six down.

Huw Chambers finished not out on 19 and Vinod Mathew not out on 31 but it wasn’t enough to take their side to victory as they finished short on 187-6.

On Saturday (Jun 9), the top two clash as Aberaeron host UWA Commoners. Aberystwyth Seconds are at home as they take on Talybont.

On Sunday (Jun 10), Aberystwyth’s first team are away as they take on Tywyn & District.

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