CARMARTHEN TOWN 1 – RHYL FC 2
LOOKING to clinch a semi-final spot in Welsh football’s premier cup competition, Town were handed a boost prior to kick off as injury doubts Cortez Belle and Kyle Bassett were passed fit to play.
Manager Mark Aizlewood responded by giving Welsh Premier League player of the month and usual centre-half Belle, the unfamiliar task of leading the forward line in a bid to take to the game to Rhyl.
With just 3 minutes on the clock the plan appeared to have backfired as Town’s defence was at sixes and sevens as Rhyl launched a slick and clinical attack to open the scoring. A mistake in midfield saw the ball break free to Levi Makin, who’s first time pass freed Mark Cadwallader who found he had the freedom of the right hand side to exploit. He drove forward 25 yards unchallenged before reaching Town’s 18 yard box. From the angle of the area his well struck, but central shot proved too much for goalkeeper Lee Idzi who could only help it into the corner of the net.
The shock of conceding so early on seemed to have a profound effect on Town’s players. For the first 30 minutes they were panicked in possession and failed to find any rhythm in the game. It was a period in which shell shocked Town could have, and perhaps should have found themselves further behind.
Cadwallader was proving himself a menace down the right hand side and after good work in the middle by Carl Lamb, he could’ve made it 2-0, but his shot found the side-netting. David Thompson was also having joy down the left and his shot come cross in the 17th minute was begging to be touched in but went through a crowd of players and out of play to the relief of the home crowd.
The dominance paid off in the 30th minute as the Lilywhites doubled their advantage. More sloppy play by Carmarthen led to a Rhyl corner and the frailties from set pieces shown against Connah’s Quay on Saturday reared their head again.
The elusive Makin drove the ball into the near post area 4 yards from Town’s goal to find an unmarked Ashley Ruane, and the striker gleefully accepted the opportunity to head in the easiest goal he will score this season. With Carmarthen’s only threat coming in the shape of makeshift centre forward Cortez Belle, Mark Aizlewood was forced into shuffling the pack at half-time. Although it didn’t reap immediate success with Rhyl controlling the early exchanges, Carmarthen did start to grow in the game. Kyle Bassett and Lewis Harling were starting to enjoy more freedom and this allowed Belle to flourish.
With 25 minutes to play a long ball forward was chased down by Belle and with defenders in attendance, Rhyl’s keeper Alex Ramsay rushed needlessly out of his goal and in the process brought down Belle for a stonewall penalty. Ramsay was also booked for his troubles with the Richmond faithful chanting for red. The resulting spot kick was dispatched with aplomb by Belle who was proving manager Aizlewood’s decision to start him up front to be an inspired one. It was Rhyl now who were lacking composure and gifting Town long spells of possession.
As they pressed in search of an equaliser Carmarthen became vulnerable to the counter and more strong running by David Thompson saw him find himself with a golden opportunity to put the tie to bed. Just as he was about to strike Jordan Wells appeared from nowhere with the tackle of the game to keep Town in the hunt. With the 4th official showing 4 minutes added time, Town pressed hard and after Ceri Morgan struck the woodwork with a sublime effort from outside the area, the crowd were anticipating another 30 minutes of play.
This was almost secured by Kyle Bassett but his fine curling effort was safely gathered by Ramsay. As the final whistle went Carmarthen could reflect on a much improved 2nd half performance in which they had the lion’s share of the possession, but in truth never really tested the Rhyl keeper. Although cup glory can not be achieved this season, Aizlewood’s men will take heart from a good last 30 minutes and hope they can translate this into the remainder of the season and maintain their place in the league.
Teams: Carmarthen Town – Idzi; Cummings; Hanford; Belle; Wells; Fowler; Harling; Bassett; Morgan; Thomas (White 82’) Walters. SUBS NOT USED Prosser; Williams; Llyr.
Rhyl FC- Ramsay; Halewood; Dawson (Gossett 90’); Stones; Ruane; Astles; Brewerton (Walsh 58’); Makin; Cadwallader; Thompson; Lamb (Kenny 68’). SUBS NOT USED Rowlands; Askew.