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Town back in play-off driving seat

Carmarthen Town 5
Prestatyn 2

WITH RHYL slipping up at home to Connah’s Quay, the Old Gold took full advantage by dispatching of doomed bottom side Prestatyn, with the visitors reduced to nine men before half-time. It was a timely slip up from Rhyl, with them due to visit Richmond Park on the 11th April in what will surely be the decider for the play-off place.

With the Old Gold desperately needing three points from this game to boost their prospects of securing a UEFA qualifying play-off place at the end of the season, they made the worst possible start when the visitors, with their first attack, took the lead on 3 minutes. Jordan Davies sent his corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth and Jack Lewis was allowed the time and space to head the ball powerfully past keeper Lee Idzi.

Stung by that setback Town immediately pressed forward with a series of swift incisive raids and by the 12th minute they were back on level terms when Jordan Knott made good ground down the left wing before delivering a searching cross into the penalty area where Luke Prosser turned sharply and from 6 yards hit a crisp drive which was handled on the goal-line by James Stead. The referee straightaway awarded a penalty and, inevitably, dismissed the Prestatyn defender. Liam Thomas stepped forward and confidently drove the spot-kick past Scott Williams and into the back of the net.

While the Old Gold continued to enjoy the greater share of possession and territorial advantage, the visitors managed to break out occasionally on the counter-attack and after 15 minutes they almost repeated their earlier success when another Davies corner was met by Dave Hayes who rose high above surrounding defenders but his firm header slid just past the post.

Yet Carmarthen held the initiative and they deservedly scored a second goal on 20 minutes when Kyle Bassett sent a well-flighted corner into the penalty area and saw Jordan Wells meet it with perfect timing and place his header beyond Williams’ reach for his first goal in the Old Gold colours.

This spell of pressure continued with Bassett and Liam Thomas in particular using their lightning pace and mobility to torment the Prestatyn defenders while Lewis Harling, Ceri Morgan and Danny Thomas provided valuable support through their industry and vision in midfield. Meanwhile Town’s defence dealt capably enough with the visitors’ breakaways, despite a few worrying moments of hesitancy under pressure – but the key element here was the performance of Craig Hanford who throughout the game undertook his evident instructions to man-mark key striker Andy Parkinson so effectively that the goal threat normally posed by this dangerous marksman never materialised.

The hosts then went close to extending their lead in the 39th minute when Knott sent a sublime pass through to Liam Thomas who took the ball into the penalty area before releasing a smart angled drive that drew an equally impressive save from Williams to turn it around the post. Straight afterwards Bassett raced clear down the right flank to reach the edge of the penalty area but saw his fierce strike fly just outside the far post.

Then on 42 minutes Prestatyn’s prospects took another significant downturn when Ross Weaver, after having been shown a yellow card only shortly beforehand, was similarly cautioned following a bad challenge on Liam Thomas and, consequently saw the referee also brandish the red card in his direction.

Town immediately made good use of their enhanced numerical advantage by pressing forward with even greater intensity. After 44 minutes a neat exchange of passes between Danny Thomas and Chris Thomas on the edge of the penalty area finished with the ball being played back to Bassett but his well-struck effort went narrowly too high. But in added time their renewed pressure brought success when after a swift break by Prosser down the right flank he crossed towards the goalmouth where Bassett set the ball up nicely for Morgan and he gratefully rifled it home from 8 yards.

Following the interval any thoughts Town might have held that the game was already won were soon dispelled when on 49 minutes a long throw-in from Lewis led to a scramble in the packed goalmouth before Michael Parker, from close range, stabbed the ball past Idzi and over the line.

However the Old Gold were quick to respond and produced another sustained spell of pressure which the beleaguered Prestatyn defence struggled to deal with. After 56 minutes Liam Thomas raced forward to the edge of the penalty area before neatly sliding the ball across to the unmarked Bassett but he saw his promising drive denied by Williams with a fine reflex save. Then on 65 minutes substitute Jeff White sent a deep cross into the penalty area which reached Liam Thomas beyond the far post and from a tight angle he fired the ball past Williams only for Parker to recover swiftly and clear it off the goal-line.

But on 68 minutes Town’s lively striker was successful when he moved elusively across the goalmouth to meet Bassett’s corner-kick and direct a firm header past Williams and into the roof of the net. And moments later the Old Gold made their victory certain when following yet another Bassett corner the ball reached Prosser who swept it home from close range. From thereon Carmarthen were firmly in control of the game and while they created a few further scoring chances, Williams was never again seriously tested.

Team:

Lee Idzi; Jordan Wells; Craig Hanford; Chris Thomas; Jordan Knott; Kyle Bassett; Ceri Morgan (sub Chris Ham 74); Lewis Harling (sub Sacha Walters 74); Danny Thomas; Luke Prosser (sub Jeff White 71); Liam Thomas;

Unused subs: Paul Fowler; Hywel Llŷr; Glen Fearn;

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Dayne Stone

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