ON a wet night when Aberystwyth Town paid fitting tribute to their greatest ever goalscorer, David “Dias” Williams, the Black and Greens did him proud by earning a vital 3-2 victory which keeps their quest for a UEFA European Play Off alive going into the last five matches of 2018/9.
Ryan Wollacott tapped in Town’s opener on 6 minutes, and just five minutes later Geoff Kellaway blasted home a second. Luke Bowen brought Carmarthen back into it on 28 minutes, and the visitors pressed for long periods only for an own goal from Lee Surman to make it three-one with 22 minutes remaining.
Liam Thomas pulled one back in the 81st minutes but Town held on for a big win which keeps Aber in eighth place and equals last season’s tally of 37 points with five games to go.
After their fantastic win over Cardiff Met last time out the Black and Greens made one change with young keeper Adam Walters coming in to make his debut in place of Terry McCormick.
After sitting deep the hosts enjoyed a dream start when Wes Baynes’ deep cross fell for Declan Walker, and his low shot was parried by Lee Idzi right into the path of Wollacott, who tapped home from close range.
Geoff Kellaway then burst through down the right and hit the side netting, but the visitors were not so lucky on eleven minutes when Kellaway played a beautiful one-two with Ashley Ruane before slamming home yet another Gol y Mis contender first time from out on the right.
Town now looked supremely confident passing the ball round, though to be fair to Carmarthen Mael Davies sent one effort over the bar, and Luke Cummings brought a smart save out of Walters.
Ruane almost capitalised on a sloppy back pass but then Cummings again burst down the right and crossed for Bowen to tap home a response, and the visitors were right back in it just before the half hour.
Walters in Aber’s goal twice denied his namesake Greg Walters, and Wollacott pulled off a great tackle to deny a goal, while at the other end Kellaway just failed to control a super ball from Mattie Jones, and Steff Edwards went wide also.
In injury time Carmarthen’s Liam Thomas headed wide from a free kick in a dangerous area and an entertaining half ended with Aber ahead thanks to some clinical finishing.
Carmarthen dominated the early stages of the second half with Aber sitting back on their lead, and some determined tackling from the likes of Paolo Mendes and Man of the Match Declan Walker restricted their chances.
Walters sent a shot wide, Lee Surman glanced a header over from Cummings’ free kick, Liam Thomas tapped wide from Jordan Vickers’ cross and Vickers’ shot from out wide was touched home from a corner.
It was becoming clear that the next goal would be crucial and Mattie Jones’ surges down the left were resulting in some dangerous crosses, one of which just evaded Ruane.
The ever industrious Marc Williams turned on the edge of the area and curled an effort just over, and then another excellent cross from Jones skewed into the back of the net off the unfortunate Surman’s foot for the killer third goal, and Aber were surely safe.
There was however a quarter of the game still to play and although Mendes hooked over from a corner it was a rather nervous ending to the game for Aber. Walters saved from Bowen but then with nine minutes left Thomas made the most of a defensive mix up to cut the deficit once again.
The hosts however defended stoutly through the remaining nine (plus five) minutes, and Mattie Jones, picked for the Wales C Squad in midweek, could have even capped a super few days with a goal when Kellaway played him in, but with the Dias Stand primed to celebrate, his shot skewed just wide. It did not matter however, Aber held on for another crucial victory.
The Black and Greens are enjoying life in the Play Off Conference and ten points since the split is equalled by only one other Club in the whole League, namely leaders Connah’s Quay Nomads.
If Aber can keep up their super form they could be looking at a very exciting end to the season, with a UEFA Europa League Play Off place up for grabs.
Matchday 28 takes Town up to Llandudno on Friday, March 22, (ko 7.45pm).
Three summer tests announced for Wales
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.”
Aber fail to break down ten-man Flint
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.
Scarlets convincingly beat Ospreys
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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