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Aber seal another thrilling win

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ABERYSTWYTH Town secured their fifth straight JD Welsh Premier League victory as Declan Walker’s injury time header secured a phenomenal 3-2 win at Maes Tegid on Saturday afternoon (Nov 17).

Neither side were able to stamp their authority on the opening stages of the game, with clear cut chances at a minimum in the first 15 minutes.

On 21 minutes, Aber created their first opening as Mathew Jones’ whipped corner kick was headed wide by Declan Walker.

At the other end, Henry Jones wasted a good opportunity for Bala as his scuffed effort struck the post, before Steven Tames gave the hosts the lead on 28 minutes when he converted Evan Horwood’s free kick at the back post to make it 1-0.

The visitors struggled to find their usual creativity in the final third, as Ryan Edwards tried his luck from range but saw his effort fly over the crossbar.

On the stroke of half time, Aber went close to finding an equaliser as Paulo Mendes flicked the ball on for Ash Ruane, who saw his header bounce just wide of the post and the hosts would enter the break with a slender advantage.

At half time, manager Nev Powell and assistant Gavin Allen opted for a change in formation as Rio Ahmadi replaced Mendes and went to play through the middle with Ruane.

Photo by Darren Harries

There was an instant improvement from the Seasiders as they began to force the play with an increased tempo and intensity.

On 53 minutes, Ruane darted into the penalty area before seeing his dangerous cross well cleared by Danny Gossett. Soon after, the visitors made their second substitution as Geoff Kellaway replaced Joe Phillips, and no more than 60 seconds later the Aber wingman was in the thick of the action.

In the 58th minute, Steff Edwards surged down the left flank before curling an inviting ball into the penalty area where the Kellaway Express was waiting at the back post to volley home and make it 1-1.

The goal sparked great celebrations with the players and travelling supporters, who suddenly sensed something special could be happening at Maes Tegid once more.

No sooner than 6 minutes later, the Seasiders took the lead as Wes Baynes swung in a right footed free kick towards Ruane, who looped a brilliant header over Bala ‘keeper Morris and into the far corner to make it 1-2.

Suddenly, the visitors were dominant as the hosts began to bombard Terry McCormick’s box with long balls and throw ins.

On 77 minutes, Bala’s sustained pressure told as Mike Hayes played in Sean Smith, who’s low cross found its way to the back post where Tames was on hand once more to tap home for 2-2.

It was cruel on Aber who’d deservedly gone in front after an excellent second half performance.

The Seasiders could easily have sat back and began to hang on for what would have been a creditable point, but instead they continued to press forward with courage and purpose.

Henry Jones wasted another good opportunity for the hosts on 86 minutes, as his header bounced wide of the post, before the fourth official indicated a minimum of 4 minutes added time.

In the third of those four minutes, Rio Ahmadi held the ball up superbly in the channel before skipping beyond Stuart Jones. The Aber number 9 surged into the penalty area before teeing up an inch perfect cross to the back post where Declan Walker rose highest to power the ball into the net and send the away supporters into raptures and make it 2-3.

It was another fantastic victory for Nev Powell’s side, who enjoyed their celebrations once more with their supporters at full time.

The victory lifts Aber up to fifth place in the JD Welsh Premier League table, level with Bala and just three points off the top of the table.

The Seasiders now enjoy a 2 week break before they return to action against Carmarthen at Park Avenue in another crunch clash on Friday, November 30.

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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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