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Aber keep up good home form

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ABERYSTWYTH Town maintained their excellent recent home form as they beat Llandudno 3-1 in an entertaining Friday night (Feb 9) JD Welsh Premier League clash at Park Avenue.

Goals from John Owen, Declan Walker and Craig Hobson secured Aber’s sixth win in eight home games in all competitions, despite Marc Williams’ second half strike threatening a comeback for the visitors. The victory sees Nev Powell’s side climb to within three points of ninth placed Llandudno, and to within just five points of seventh place in the JD Welsh Premier League Play Off Conference.

Aber manager Nev Powell made one change to the starting eleven that lost away at Barry Town last weekend, with Malcolm Melvin replacing Craig Rogers, resulting in Ashley Young dropping back to the centre back position.

On a freezing night at Park Avenue, Aber started like a team on fire. Within just five minutes, the hosts took a deserved lead as John Owen gathered a loose ball on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area, before making space for a low, right-footed shot that flew into the bottom corner of the net beyond the reach of goalkeeper Alex Lynch.

It was evident that the early goal had given Town a boost, as they pressed for a second goal with Malcolm Melvin seeing his tame effort easily collected by Lynch in goal. However, on 21 minutes the visitors were handed a golden opportunity to get back into the game as Tom Dix was fouled in the penalty area and awarded a penalty kick.

Sam Hart stepped up, but dragged his spot kick wide of Chris Mullock’s post – much to the relief of the home supporters. Soon after, drama ensued at the other end as Aber were awarded a penalty of their own, with Hart adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty area. Declan Walker stepped up this time, and thumped home the spot kick into the top right hand corner to make it 2-0.

Declan Walker celebrates his goal

Aber began to take control of the game as they exerted continued pressure on the visitors back line, with Damien Allen and Melvin controlling the midfield expertly.

On 34 minutes, Ashley Young whipped a dangerous cross into the penalty area that was cleared in the nick of time by Llandudno defender Danny Shaw, as Aber saw out the first half comfortably to go into the break with a two goal lead.

Visitors Llandudno started the second half in much brighter fashion, evidently buoyed by the half time team talk of assistant manager Matty Williams.

On 48 minutes, with their first attack of the second half, they found a way back into the game as Danny Hughes played in Wes Baynes, who crossed for Marc Williams to convert at the near post and make it 2-1.

Suddenly the momentum of the game swung in favour of the visitors, as they began to commit more players forwards in search of an equaliser.

On 50 minutes, they very nearly found a second goal as Danny Shaw’s header clipped the crossbar, before Danny Hughes saw his brilliant half-volley sail inches wide of Chris Mullock’s far post.

Aber were hanging on to their slender advantage, as Ashley Young and Ryan Wollacott battled for every ball in the heart of the defence.

On 63 minutes, Craig Hobson was introduced for the hosts in place of Damien Allen, and Town almost immediately regained some control of the game thanks to a tactical switch from Aber’s management team.

Four minutes later, Hobson latched on to a brilliant pass by Melvin to race through on goal before being denied by an outstanding fingertip save from Alex Lynch.

Soon after, Aber’s number 9 was again in the thick of the action as he came close to converting after a goalmouth scramble, before seeing his back post header cannon off the base of the post and out for a goal kick. The visitors refused to go down without a fight, and on 84 minutes they again went close as Chris Mullock produced a brilliant save to deny Sam Hart.

As the game entered the final minutes, Town used all their game management nous to see out the win.

In stoppage time, the victory was duly sealed as John Owen scampered down the left wing before cutting into the penalty area and putting the ball on a silver platter for Hobson to bury his fourth goal of the season and make it 3-1.

Another fine victory at Park Avenue for Nev Powell’s side, who will be glad to get back to winning ways after last weekend’s away defeat at Jenner Park. With their eyes now firmly set on 7th place in the league table, Town will prepare for another tough home game against Prestatyn Town on Friday evening (Feb 16) in the JD Welsh Premier League.

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Sport

Three summer tests announced for Wales

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WALES will play three summer tests in Cardiff this July as revised international fixtures have been announced.

Wayne Pivac’s side will face Canada (July 3) and back-to-back games against Argentina (July 10 & 17) at Principality Stadium.

These tests replace the scheduled summer tour to Argentina which has had to be cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty around travel restrictions.

The Pumas will now travel to Cardiff for two tests against the Six Nations Champions.

Wales will kick off their summer campaign on July 3 at home to Canada. The Canucks who are coached by former Wales captains Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley will visit Cardiff for the first time since 2008.

“We are looking forward to this summer, the opportunity it presents, and we are delighted to have three tests confirmed,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“It is disappointing not to have the opportunity to tour Argentina, especially on the back of our 2020 tour to New Zealand being cancelled, but in the current climate it is completely understandable.

“What is important is we have games and as we have said all along, this summer is a huge opportunity for us.   We are delighted and proud to have 10 players selected for the British & Irish Lions, it is reward for all their hard work and we wish them all the best this summer.

“With those players away we always earmarked this summer as an important development opportunity for us.

“It is an opportunity to bring players into this environment, look at them closely and expose them to test match rugby.  It is also an opportunity for current internationals to step-up into further leadership roles, so on both counts it is an important camp for us looking ahead to RWC2023.”

WRU CEO Steve Phillips added: “It is a huge credit to World Rugby that a full schedule of summer international rugby has been achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic.

“Whilst it is obviously disappointing not to tour, we are delighted in Wales to be hosting Canada and to be able to honour the 2017 San Francisco agreement by hosting the Pumas for back-to-back matches, which will be hugely important to our international player development.

“Wayne has been adamant that his squad needs matches this summer and World Rugby have certainly delivered on that front.

“We are, of course, acutely aware of current restrictions and the ongoing and complex global COVID-19 picture. We will continue to monitor the situation in terms of any potential spectator access, but will remain entirely compliant and vigilant of all restrictions.

“In the current circumstances we are simply delighted to be able to play international rugby and any advance on that will be a bonus.”

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Aber fail to break down ten-man Flint

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ABERYSTWYTH Town and Flint Town United played out a goalless draw on Saturday (May 8).

It could have been much different for Aber, though, as they played against a Flint side who had Ben Amiss sent off in the first half, but they failed to make their advantage count.

With Wales experiencing some unseasonal weather, the Deeside coast was battered by mother-nature in the build-up to the game and full credit must go to the volunteers at the Silkmen for producing an excellent playing surface.

Aber started the game brightly and carved out two great openings in the first five minutes.  Firstly, Louis Bradford volleyed over the bar from close range before some brilliant work down the left from Harry Franklin teed up a cross for Jonathan Evans who’s goal bound header looked to have given the Seasiders the initiative.

However, home stopper Jon Rushton had other ideas, pulling off a sumptuous save down low, pawing the ball away to safety.

After the two quick chances for Aber, Flint settled into the contest and began creating chances of their own.

The home side saw strikes from Alex Jones and Callum Brately fall narrowly wide of the post before creating their best opportunity of the half with 23 minutes having elapsed.

Great play down the right flank saw the ball land to Ross Weaver. His strike, via a deflection from Black and Green defender Ian Kearney forced Connor Roberts into a great stop.

Franklin was causing problems for the Silkmen and Aber’s most likely route towards victory looked to be coming down his wing. He had a glorious opportunity to give Aber the lead but couldn’t keep his effort under the crossbar. He did have the ball in the back of the net but an early flag from the linesman denied him his fourth of the season.

The game’s flashpoint came with just seconds to go until the break. A heavy tackle in midfield from Ben Amiss on Jamie Veale, sparking a 19-man melee in midfield and saw referee Bryn Markham Jones reach for his red card for the Flint Town United striker.

With Aber having a numerical advantage, they enjoyed more of the ball in the second stanza but could only create sporadic chances against a well drilled and organised back line. Mathew Jones saw a strike fall narrowly over the bar whilst Kearney’s header from a corner landed on the roof of the home net.

To their credit, Flint did look to gain a winner of their own and had spells of pressure but like their opponents, they couldn’t break down an organised Seasiders’ defence. The lively Jones for the hosts came closest with his header going wide of the far post.

Gavin Allen introduced Owain Jones and Marc Williams as well as Jamie Reed late on in search of the go ahead goal but despite the addition of additional fire power, there was to be no late drama.

Jon Owen saw a shot well stopped by Rushton whilst Jenkins tried to connect with a Jack Rimmer cross in the final minute but could only make connection with the home keeper, earning himself a yellow card in the process.

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Scarlets convincingly beat Ospreys

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Rainbow Cup • Scarlets 22 – Ospreys 6

SCARLETS delivered a dominant derby performance to claim their first victory of the Rainbow Cup campaign, beating the Ospreys 22-6, at a rain-soaked Parc y Scarlets.

Prop Alex Jeffries scored the only try of the match, with full-back Leigh Halfpenny delivering a typically dead-eyed goal-kicking display in atrocious conditions.

The platform was laid by the Scarlets pack, with skipper Ken Owens, Blade Thomson and Aaron Shingler to the fore; the man of the match Kieran Hardy mixed up his game intelligently, while a much-improved defensive display saw the visitors restricted to just two kicks at goal from fly-half Luke Price.

It was the Ospreys who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Price on two minutes, but the Scarlets responded strongly with Halfpenny levelling on 17 after the visitors were caught offside.

The outstanding Jonathan Davies looked like he made it over the whitewash after bursting through a couple of tackles, but the television match official adjudged the Wales centre had lost the ball as he slid over the whitewash and the score was chalked off.

Nevertheless, the Scarlets continued to boss proceedings.

With the Ospreys falling foul of Scottish referee Ben Blain, Halfpenny added a couple more penalties and an impressive half for the home side was capped when Jeffries crossed two minutes before the interval

A well-worked line-out move saw Davies burst onto a pass from Owens, breaking through a couple of tackles before feeding the tight-head prop on his inside.

Jeffries still had plenty to do but showed a superb turn of pace to race clear 20 metres to the whitewash to touch down against his former side.

That made it 16-3 at half-time with the Scarlets seemingly in firm control.

The visitors, looking for their first PRO14 win at Parc y Scarlets since 2015, did enjoy more of the game in the second period.

Price reduced the arrears with a penalty and it needed some superb defence to keep the Ospreys line-out maul at bay.

Another Halfpenny penalty five minutes from time extended the lead to 22-6 to ensure a comfortable victory and a seasonal double over the Scarlets’ arch-rivals.

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