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Town come from behind

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ABERYSTWYTH Town continued their surge towards a UEFA Europa League Play Off Spot by coming from behind to take all three points at Llandudno on Friday (Mar 22).

Goals from Ashley Ruane and yet another stunning strike from in form Geoff Kellaway made the difference after Les Davies had given the hosts the lead in first half injury time. The result sent Aber to the top of the JD Welsh Premier League Play Off Conference, but Cardiff Met’s win on Saturday sees them return to the top.

On a drizzly night the visitors kicked off with one change from their win over Carmarthen Town last time out, with Terry McCormick replacing Adam Walters in goal, and he proved to be a busy man as Llandudno enjoyed long periods of pressure throughout the match.

Davies clipped an early shot wide and then a deflected shot from George Harry brought a great stop from Town’s experienced netminder. Marc Williams sent in a cute ball which Ruane glanced against the post with a header for Aber, and Kellaway had a shot blocked but then back came the hosts and McCormick came out well to deny first Alun Webb, and then Danny Hughes in a one on one.

Kellaway released Ruane on goal but Aber’s striker couldn’t quite find the right angle, Les Davies had a shot deflected over and then back up the other end a surge from Ryan Wollacott earned Aber a corner, from which Matty Jones found Paolo Mendes’ head, only for home keeper Shaun Pearson to hold his goalbound effort.

Then two minutes before the break Llandudno grabbed a deserved lead when Davies headed home directly from Sameron Dool’s corner, and Aber were up against it at the break.

The hosts started the second half striving for the killer second to sustain their quest for safety. Alun Webb curled wide from a good position, then McCormick did well to catch Harry’s lob, but the knife-edge match turned six minutes after the break when Wes Baynes’ superb deep cross found Ruane at the far post, and he headed home an equaliser.

With both sides now needing a win for different reasons the game opened up into a thrilling and nerve wracking encounter.

Dool was flagged offside before he could put the hosts back into the lead, before Baynes’ goalbound free kick was tipped over the bar by Pearson with a superb save. Aber were now finding some rhythm to their game with some good passing moves evident going forward.

Jones’ corner to the edge of the area was curled wide by Ryan Edwards, then Man of the Match McCormick again denied Webb.

Then half way through the half came the key moment when the peerless Marc Williams found Kellaway down the left, and he unleashed a vicious volley which sneaked inside Pearson’s near post for yet another Goal of the Month contender, thrilling the vocal visiting fans so much that they rushed down the touchline to celebrate with the players – a la Malcom Melvin two years ago.

In a lovely move Kellaway then played in Ruane in a great position, who squared for Jones, but in vain.

Llandudno were now desperate for a score and enjoyed long periods of pressure, free kicks and corners galore but the visitors held out stoutly, with Declan Walker, Wollacott and Mendes all earning their corn. Ruane headed over another Baynes cross but at the other end Mike Pearson headed over from a great position, as did Harry from Steve Thomas’ later.

Aber threatened a third on the break when Kellaway dug out a cross for Williams, who headed just wide, then sub Jamie McDaid pulled out some super trickery down the right only for the chance to go begging.

Pearson came up for an injury time corner and was almost caught out as Aber broke, but McDaid’s lob from distance somehow bounced over the bar: but it did not matter, as Aber held out for a fifth win in five.

Without being at their brilliant best last night Aber did what needed to be done to win a tight game, and they now have earned 13 points from 18 possible since the split, returning to form in spectacular fashion since their Xmas and New Year slump.

Town’s next date with destiny is on Friday, April 5, at home to Llanelli.

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Sport

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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