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’.
Ceredigion athletes to take part in the Queen’s Baton Relay
SIXTEEN Ceredigion athletes, who have gained international honours in their chosen sports are gearing up to be Baton Bearers on 30 June when the Birmingham 2022 Baton Relay will visit our county during its journey through Wales.
Here’s a closer look at the athletes taking part and their achievements:
Cameron Allen, Penglais Secondary school pupil, was selected for the Welsh School Football Association U18 squad. Cameron has recently returned from Rome with the squad where he played in the Roma Caput Mundi Tournament. Cameron’s goal is to be a professional footballer.
Ruadhán O’Regan, Penglais Secondary school pupil, has represented North Wales Hockey since Year 7 (now in Year 11) and was selected to play for Wales in the National Age Groups U16s in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Ruadhan has had International Caps for playing in 3-day test series held in Belfast, Glasgow and England. He is a Hockey Wales Ambassador and assists with coaching and umpiring juniors at his local hockey club and secondary school. He now plays for the Swansea Men’s team, is part of the Hockey Wales development pathway, and aims to progress to the U18 squad.
Órla O’Regan, Penglais Secondary school pupil, is in the Welsh U18s Hockey squad and has recently returned from an international 3-day test series against Scotland in Glasgow. Orla has represented North Wales since year 8 and now plays for their U18s squad. She is a Hockey Wales Ambassador and assists with coaching and umpiring juniors at her local club and school. She has also played for Aberystwyth University Ladies and currently playing in the South Wales Ladies League for Swansea Hockey Club
Both Órla and her brother Ruadhán started playing hockey at St. Padarn’s Primary School, progressing on to club hockey with Bow Street and then Dysynni hockey clubs.
Fin Tarling, Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron pupil, is a member of the Welsh U16 team for cycling and has represented Wales at the UK School Games and the Tour of Scotland. He is the British and multiple Welsh champion on the track and road and is a Gold medallist at the UK Schools Game riding for Wales. He’s part of the Belgian Flanders Color Team, and has won multiple races in Europe.
Josh Hathaway, a former pupil at Penglais School plays rugby and received a rugby scholarship to study the Level 3 National Diploma Sport (Rugby) at Hartpury College. He helped the Hartpury Ace U18’s team go undefeated all season and the winning the ACE League Championship Final in December 2021. Josh, having only just turned 18 was selected for this year’s Wales U20’s 6th Nations Squad, where he gained his first cap against Italy in April. He now looks forward to being part of the squad for next year’s 6th Nations and the Junior World Cup in France 2023.
Daniel Henchie Jones, from Swyddffynnon joined Aberystwyth Basketball Club just before lockdown and has now earned a place on the Wales U16 boys Basketball team and has already represented Wales at the Four Nations Tournament in Dundee in May 2022. Daniel enjoys volunteering to support younger players to learn and play and hopes to have a future career in sport.
Jade Whitlock moved to Aberystwyth for university in 2015 and played for the university Dodgeball team. She represented Aberystwyth University in major tournaments around the country and was fortunate enough to be selected for the Wales Dodgeball Squad in 2020. Jade maintains her place in the squad for 2022 and looks forward to representing Wales in future tournaments and events internationally.
Alex Hammel currently plays football for Penrhyncoch and basketball for Aberystwyth Basketball Club. He was a member of the U12 and U14 Wales Basketball Squads and got selected to represent Wales with the U15 Boys Basketball National Team. Alex got his first cap against Scotland in May 2022. He is an Ambassador at his club, helps to teach primary school children basketball and started coaching at Penglais School reaching the Junior NBA finals in Wales with his team.
Casi Gregson, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Pedr Lampeter pupil, competes in many sports, including athletics having competed in West Wales athletics competitions, Ceredigion Schools and the Welsh Championships in the past. However, her most recent success has been with football after securing a place in the Wales’ Girls Football Under 16’s squad and was fortunate enough to play for Wales in November 2021. Casi’s highlight on the football field was the victory of Tim Under 16 Wales in the 2-1 championship against England, scoring a decisive goal.
Daniel Berry moved to Aberaeron over four years ago to live with his grandmother and started to play Wheelchair Basketball in Aberystwyth. He now represents Wales in the under 14’s junior squad, the Welsh boys’ team for the school Games. He has also trained with the men’s commonwealth qualifier team. Daniel was born with a rare neurological condition called Dystonia which sends all his muscles into spasms.
Kai Frisby from Aberystwyth first tried wheelchair basketball at the age of seven after having hip surgery due to being born with Cerebral Palsy, affecting all of his right side and his left leg. Since then, he has represented Wales at the Lord Taveners Games in 2018 and again in 2019 (under 15’s) in wheelchair basketball. He represented Wales at the school games in 2021 and was part of the Welsh senior wheelchair basketball team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games trails.
Jac Sheehan, Penglais Secondary school pupil, is a member of the Disability Sports Wales and has won several medals for Wales whilst competing in Discus, Shot put and Javelin. Jac was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at a young age and later developed Epilepsy; both conditions affect his coordination and mobility. He is currently in training to prepare for trails for the Wales Wheelchair Basketball Team.
Melanie Thomas from Lampeter, has competed in many sports over the years having gained her first Welsh cap playing football for the Welsh Women’s Under 16’s team and went on to represent the Under 19’s age category. Following this, Melanie took up bowling and has represented Wales in many national competitions, winning the Welsh Women’s singles title, winning an Atlantic Championships Gold with teammates in the rinks competition and gaining a Silver medal playing pairs at the World Youth Championships in Australia. She is a member of the Women’s Elite Squad and a non-travelling reserve for Birmingham 22. Melanie is a Welsh Government Civil Servant currently working in the Health and Social Services division.
Alis Butten is an Under 25 and senior Welsh lawn bowls player from Lampeter Bowling Club. During her bowling career so far she became the youngest woman to play for the senior international team, has won numerous county and Welsh titles and has recently been selected to represent Wales at the European Championships in Ayr in July. Her proudest bowling achievement was winning the Welsh pairs competition with her mum, Anwen Butten.
Hari Butten is an Under 25 Welsh lawn bowls player from Lampeter Bowling Club. He has earnt caps for Wales during the U’25 lawn bowls international series over the last few years and has also won numerous Open competitions across Wales as well as being reigning County Triples Champion. Outside of bowls, he is a Victim Care Officer for Dyfed Powys Police and also volunteers as a Special Constable at Cardiff Bay with South Wales Police.
Anwen Butten plays lawn bowls for Lampeter Bowling Club and has represented Wales since 1988 at Junior, Senior and Elite level. She has been to four World championships, five Atlantic Championships and five commonwealth games. She has been fortunate to travel the world representing Wales. Anwen has won over 16 medals during the last 20 years and won Welsh and British Isles titles. Anwen will represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year, which will be her sixth consecutive time competing. Anwen works as a Head and Neck Cancer Specialist Nurse with Hywel Dda University Health Board.
Joining them will be Jamie James of Aberystwyth Bowling Club and Hawys Medi Richards of The Vale of Rheidol Railway in recognition of the contribution volunteers make in the county making a total of 18 Baton Bearers
Jamie James from Aberystwyth has been playing bowls since the age of 14 and has represented Ceredigion for the last 15 years. In the last two years, he’s played the position of skip for Ceredigion. During the 2021 season, Jamie won the County pairs championship and was a singles finalist. Jamie is a Support and Attainment Co-ordinator, managing the provision for the most vulnerable pupils in primary schools throughout Ceredigion.
Hawys Medi Richards from Ciliau Aeron is the 13years old daughter of Aled Richards one of the engineers on the Vale of Rheidol Railway. Hawys is a member of West Wales Cycling Club and in the last 15 months together with her family has raised nearly £7,000 to 3 charities close to their hearts due to her sudden kidney failure in December 2020 ( Noahs Ark, Kidney Wales and Ronal McDonald). She has had a kidney transplant only 6 months and her donor was her mother.
The schedule of activity for the Baton’s time in Ceredigion includes:
Baton Relay, from Plascrug Leisure Centre to Aberystwyth Bowling Club (Plascrug) (14:15 to 14:30)
The Baton Relay continues from Aberystwyth Bowling Club (Plascrug) to the Vale of Rheidol Railway (14:45 to 15:30)
The Baton will go on a train ride to Capel Bangor (15:45)
The best locations for spectators to view the Baton Relay are Plascrug Avenue and The Vale of Rheidol Railway although the Baton will also travel along the pavements of Alexander Road and Park Avenue.
Following its time in Aberystwyth, the Baton will then travel to the Gwersyll Llangrannog Urdd Centre at Llangrannog where it will stay overnight before moving onto Pembrokeshire on Friday 01 July.
Catrin M.S. Davies, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Customer Services, said: “It’s great to see so many residents of the county being part of welcoming the baton to Ceredigion. Each is a great ambassador, whether it is a champion in sport, athletics or cycling; or has shown courage in receiving medical treatment. They are an inspiration to us all.”
The Team Wales website will be updated with information over the coming weeks, with further detail on the events and where to line the route: https://teamwales.cymru/en/events/queens-baton-relay/
Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’
EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.
Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.
49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.
In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.
“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.
“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.
“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”
Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.
Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.
Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.
He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.
Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.
The trial is expected to last five days.
Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,
“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”
Wales to take on the best in Nation League test
POLAND manager Czesław Michniewicz has confirmed that all-time record appearance holder and leading goalscorer Robert Lewandowski will start against Cymru in the UEFA Nations League A4 opener later today (5pm).
“We will field our best line-up,” said Michniewicz. “We will try and give everyone who is in good shape a game. We will play four at the back, but we will change the line-up. I can confirm that Robert Lewandowski will start. Kamil Jóźwiak needs to be thoroughly tested and Matty Cash should be ready for the Belgium game.”
The Bayern Munich striker has scored 75 goals in his 129 international appearances, and the 33-year-old team captain will be keen to use this Nations League campaign to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals later this year after his country qualified through the play-offs.
Cymru will be hoping to join Poland in Qatar following Sunday’s play-off final against either Ukraine or Scotland. Meanwhile, Chris Gunter is expected to be tasked with preventing Lewandowski from adding to his goal tally in Wrocław, and the Cymru centurion looked ahead to the challenge when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.
“As a player you turn up and do your job,” said Gunter. “If and when you’re selected to play for your country you feel a real honour to do so. I know we’re not going to have the same team for the next five games but when the whistle blows the preparation and focus will be the same.”
Cymru manager Rob Page spoke to the media yesterday ahead of the opening UEFA Nations League match against Poland in Wrocław this evening (5pm).
Here’s a summary of what Page had to say on a number of different topics –
“It’s risk and reward. The biggest game we’ve got is on Sunday, and that’s no disrespect to Poland. We will show them complete respect, but we would be mad to risk our top, top players. I’ve done a lot of analysis on Poland, they work hard for each other and they do the not so pretty side of the game really well. They’ve got talented individuals that can win a game of football, and we’ve got the same. We respect Poland for what they are, and we will have to be at our best to get a result.”
On Gareth Bale
“He’s in good spirits, as he always is. He was adamant that he was meeting the players in Portugal to fly into Poland with them, so that again speaks volumes about him to be with the group as soon as possible. Credit to him, he’s as humble as ever. He’s met up with the group and he’s first class straight away. As we always do with all the senior players, we have individual plans for them. We will sit down, have a conversation with him, and it’s about getting him in the best physical and mental condition for Wednesday and for Sunday.”
On Aaron Ramsey
“Aaron probably hasn’t played as many games or minutes as he would have liked but he’s trained everyday so he’s in a good place physically. He hasn’t had the match time that he wanted to, but we’ve had a practice game. He’s proved in the past that he can turn up for the big games having not played as many club games and give a performance, so we’re not worried about that.”
On his team selection
“I don’t think there will be many surprises. I think most of the supporters will anticipate what we’re going to do. It will be a common sense approach to a big game on Sunday. There’s no hiding behind that and I’m not going to make any apologies for that whatsoever. We’ve not been in this position since 1958. We know we’re up against strong opposition tomorrow evening, but we will use it as an exercise to give players who need them minutes. But we will play a team that can more than compete.”
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