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Aber hold off Carmarthen to reach semis

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ABERYSTWYTH Town held off Carmarthen Town as they booked their place in the semi-finals of the JD Welsh Cup on Tuesday night (Mar 6).

The last meeting between the two sides just over a week ago, also at Richmond Park, saw the Black and Greens take a 3-1 lead only for the Old Gold to come back and earn a 3-3 draw.

A similar story seemed to be developing in this game as Aber took control with goals from Joe Phillips, John Owen and Malcolm Melvin gave them a 3-0 lead.

Despite Liam Thomas’ goal there was to be no repeat and Aber held on to book a semi-final date with rivals Newtown at a neutral venue on the weekend of April 7/8.

Following Saturday’s postponement of the original date Manager Neville Powell’s most pressing task which was to ensure that all his Players were available for the hastily rearranged date, and credit must be given to the First Team who made it to South West Wales en masse and ensured that Town could field an unchanged eleven.

Carmarthen made a lively start with Clayton Green lobbing over the bar and Liam Thomas bringing a save out of Mullock.

Aber responded when Declan Walker curled a shot over from Ashley Young’s corner.

Young made a superb defensive block to deny Ceri Morgan a clear chance but then the visitors made the breakthrough when another corner from Young was glanced home by Phillips for a crucial opener which put Aber’s vocal tifosi into raptures.

A rather cautious game ensued after the harem-scarem of last week, with both sides struggling to find a rhythm, and chances were restricted to Ryan Wade finding the roof of the net with a cute lob, Tom Owens firing a shot just wide and Chris Mullock doing well to gather Green’s cross, and Aber found themselves ahead at the break by 1-0.

​Into the second half, Dwayne Coultress’ early shot glanced wide and Kieran Lewis lobbed over as the hosts tried to make a game of it, but once again Walker troubled the Carmarthen goal with a glancing header from Phillips’ deep cross.

With the home defence tiring John Owen started to display his dazzling skills and a backheel from the Criccieth cracker set up Matthew Jones for a low shot which Lewis deflected goalbound, and Lewis Thomas in the home goal pulled off a superb save.

Then at the three quarter mark Owen turned his marker at the edge of the area and angled a low drive into the far corner for a stunning strike to double Aber’s lead.

Three minutes later the visiting fans were disco dancing in dreamland as Owen did brilliantly to feed Phillips and his crossfield ball was perfect for Melvin to fire a beautiful 30 yard drive into the net for 3-0.

The hosts inevitably brought Aber right back to earth by getting a goal back two minutes later with Thomas firing home from close range, and with the Old Gold hitting incessant long high balls into box the pressure was on.

Walker did head over for Town, and Melvin brought a diving save from Thomas, and with Craig Hobson’s arrival as sub the Black and Greens had a strong header at both ends of the pitch.

Dreaming? Aber boss Nev Powell could be dreaming of a fourth Welsh Cup Final victory

Aber were relieved to see a Carmarthen goal chalked off on 80 minutes for offside but from that point on they defended well and ensured that the ball spent most of the six minutes of injury time upfield, and David Morgan’s final whistle ensured that Neville Powell’s Aber had booked a Welsh Cup Semi Final place with something to spare.

Aber’s fifth Welsh Cup Semi Final of the Welsh Premier era (following previous appearances in 1997,2001, 2009 and 2014) gives the Club a huge end of season boost and the tie against Newtown, at a venue yet to be decided, gives Neville Powell the chance to dream of an historic fourth Welsh Cup Final victory.

Aber must now turn their attentions to their next league game, against rivals Newtown at Latham Park on Saturday, 2:30pm kick off.

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Swans grab last gasp play-off spot

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WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).

Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.

The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.

The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.

And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.

The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.

Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.

The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.

But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.

John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.

Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.

Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.

Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.

But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.

However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.

Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.

With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.

Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.

With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.

Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.

However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.

Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.

Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.

They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.

The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.

And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.

Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.

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Glamorgan launch new kit

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GLAMORGAN Cricket has unveiled its new Vitality Blast playing kit for the 2020 season.

Designed by the Club’s official kit supplier, Masuri, alongside Glamorgan’s management, players and coaches, the brand-new Vitality Blast strip contains a subtle Welsh twist.

Fitting Glamorgan’s traditional colour schemes, the top is dark navy with a tonal dragon across the front – a nod to the old Glamorgan nickname and the Welsh identity – while a sharp yellow trim on the neck and sleeves frames the top.

The famous ‘Daff’ sits on the heart of the shirt, with MiPost’s strong Welsh brand centre-stage. Appearing on the collars are the logos of ‘Official Players Car Partner’, Mon Motors and Welsh company, Philtronics Solutions, with Discover Leeks on the right sleeve and SA Group on the back.

The famous Aston Martin logo features on both side of the Glamorgan T20 cap, as they continue their ongoing support of the club.

Head of Commercial, Huw Warren, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Masuri throughout the design process and together developed an exciting new kit we’re sure our supporters will love with its strong connections with Wales.

“Our Masuri kits have always been hugely successful with players and fans alike and we look forward to continuing our commercial partnership with them.

“We can’t wait to see our players wearing the new kit when the Blast gets underway later this summer.”

Masuri CEO, Sam Miller, said: ‘’Once again it has been a pleasure working with the team at Glamorgan to bring this year’s kit to life, and we are looking forward to seeing it in use during the much anticipated Vitality Blast this year.’’

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Wembley trip for Giggs’ men

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CYMRU will travel to Wembley Stadium on Thursday 8 October for a home nations international against England.

Ryan Giggs’ side will return to action this autumn for the first time in 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kicking off with the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League campaign. The match against England will be one of two additional international matches scheduled as triple headers in October and November. In keeping with current Government guidelines, this fixture is scheduled to be played behind-closed-doors.

Since their first encounter in 1879, England are Cymru’s second oldest opponents with 102 matches in total producing 14 wins, 21 draws and 67 defeats. Cymru’s last visit to Wembley Stadium was in 2011 for a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier, with Ashley Cole scoring in a 1-0 defeat.

Ryan Giggs’ side will be using this match to prepare for the rescheduled EURO 2020 finals next summer where they hope to return to Wembley, one of the host stadiums, for the latter stages of the tournament.

Looking ahead to the autumn, Cymru are in Nations League Group B4 alongside Bulgaria, Finland and the Republic of Ireland with fixture dates as follows:

Thursday, 3 September – Finland v Cymru (7:45pm)
Sunday, 6 September – Cymru v Bulgaria (2:00pm)
Sunday, 11 October – Republic of Ireland v Cymru (2:00pm)
Wednesday, 14 October – Bulgaria v Cymru (7:45pm)
Sunday, 15 November – Cymru v Republic of Ireland (5:00pm)
Wednesday, 18 November – Cymru v Finland (7:45pm)

All fixtures are scheduled to be played behind-closed-doors for the foreseeable future.

The FAW will continue to adhere to relevant Government guidelines and supporters will be notified should arrangements change and tickets become available.

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