Cinderford Town (0) Carmarthen Town (1)
Carmarthen concluded their pre-season programme with a visit to Cinderford Town who operate in the Southern League Division One South (the fourth tier) of the English Non-League Football pyramid – and after a keenly contested match the Old Gold secured a narrow victory thanks to a smartly-taken goal from Luke Bowen.
The opening stages of this game were fairly uneventful with the play largely confined to unproductive midfield exchanges and neither defence was subjected to any noticeable pressure – yet with players on both sides enthusiastically showing a refreshing commitment to this contest, there was certainly a welcome competitive ‘edge’ to enliven these proceedings.
It was not until the 18th minute that the first scoring opportunity arose when Lewis Harling won a free-kick just outside the penalty area – however while Chris Jones neatly drove the ball around the defensive ‘wall’, he saw it fly narrowly past the far post.
Cinderford eventually went close to taking the lead on 28 minutes when Logan Bowkett struck a free-kick into the packed goalmouth where Ethan Moore connected with a close-range shot that ‘keeper Lee Idzi, with a smart reaction save, claimed at the foot of the post.
Yet moments later the Old Gold took the lead. Josh Bull sprinted forward along the left flank then from near the corner flag he fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Bowen arrived with perfect timing and cleverly diverted the ball beyond the reach of ‘keeper Andy Hannah and into the far corner of the net.
At last the game had become more open with both sides showing welcome attacking flair.
After 38 minutes Lee Surman, from deep inside his own half, launched a huge clearance upfield which Bull eagerly chased to the corner of the penalty area before dispatching a rasping strike that flew across the face of the goal but went just outside the post.
Then on 41 minutes Bull, continuing his impressive pre-season form, produced a delightful back-heel that set Bowen racing free along the left-wing – the experienced striker, from the wide edge of the penalty area, then struck a fine shot that slid narrowly beyond the far post.
After the interval Carmarthen produced an early chance in the 53rd minute when Harling received the ball from Greg Walters’ quick throw-in then released a stunning 30 yard drive that substitute ‘keeper Jordan Dibble turned aside with a superb flying save.
On 64 minutes Jones won the ball off a defender then played it forward to Bull who from just inside the penalty area instantly fired a crisp shot that went marginally wide of the post.
Even though the hosts were enjoying their fair share of possession during that period they failed to create any notable scoring chances, often due to wayward passing/crossing or indecision at critical moments.
But in the 77th minute they eventually broke through the visitors’ defence – Moore chased after a fine through-ball into the penalty area only to be denied by Idzi who sprinted quickly out of his goal and bravely claimed the ball at the striker’s feet.
Then shortly afterwards Josh Hunt produced a spectacular long-range drive that drew an equally impressive full-length save from Idzi.
Yet the Old Gold again went close in the later stages of this match. On 82 minutes Declan Carroll raced forward to the edge of the penalty area before releasing a crisp strike that went just wide of the post. Then moments later Ceri Morgan enjoyed a smart interchange of passes with Carroll before he fired a close-range shot that Dibble superbly turned aside.
So Carmarthen’s pre-season campaign, while having begun with a disappointing display against Haverfordwest, soon progressed satisfactorily with particularly impressive performances against Swansea City U23s (in terms of the quality of the football they played against skilful, well-drilled opponents) and Llanelli (in terms of the clinical fashion in which they created and scored goals, albeit against weaker opposition).
Town’s next fixture is on Saturday 10th August at Richmond Park (k/o 2.30pm) when they entertain Cymru South side Cwmamman United in the Nathanial MG Cup (Round 2).
Lee Idzi; Greg Walters; Dave Vincent (sub Jordan Vickers 63); Lee Surman; Jordan Knott; Chris Jones; Ceri Morgan; Lewis Harling; Jay Woodford (sub Declan Carroll 73); Luke Bowen (sub Gwion Howell 75); Josh Bull;
Goal: Luke Bowen (27);