Kick off:14:30 Saturday, 9 Nov 2013
at The Book People Stadium, Nantporth, Bangor
Fixture Type: Welsh Premier League
Referee: Richard Harrington
Liam Thomas scored the winner
For the first time since January 2007 Carmarthen enjoyed a Welsh Premier League victory at Bangor thanks to an outstanding defensive display throughout the match and a wonderful solo goal midway through the second-half from joint top scorer Liam Thomas.
Before the start the Old Gold were just one place above City in the League table and only two points better off – and as the game evolved it became clear how equally matched these two teams are. From the outset the play swung from end to end with both sides making steady progress through the midfield but neither being able to penetrate the opposing defence. In fact it was not until the 14th minute that Town created the first notable scoring chance when Kyle Bassett floated his corner-kick into the crowded goalmouth where Christian Doidge leapt high to nod the ball narrowly over the bar.
Bangor were finding chances equally elusive until after 21 minutes a weak defensive clearance fell nicely for Declan Walker but his 25 yard drive flew too high. Then shortly afterwards Sion Edwards received the ball on the edge of the penalty area but his fierce strike was denied by ‘keeper Steve Cann’s excellent flying save.
Throughout the first-half Town’s defence remained sound and dependable with Carl Evans and Cortez Belle establishing a formidable central partnership, capably supported on the flanks by Luke Cummings and Craig Hanford; and Chris Thomas tirelessly patrolled the space directly in front of them, providing a valuable link between defence and the midfield where the energy and vision of Paul Fowler, Matty Collins and Jordan Follows were the basis of the visitors’ forward progress on the counter-attack. And up front Doidge and Bassett used their pace and strength on the ball to good effect, keeping the City defence fully engaged whenever the opportunity arose.
After the interval the earlier pattern of play resumed although gradually the hosts began to enjoy a greater share of possession and territorial advantage. On 56 minutes they came close to breaking the deadlock when Edwards turned smartly on the edge of the penalty area but saw his drive strike the foot of the post before the ball bounced safely away. Then on the hour mark Edwards’ deep corner-kick found the unmarked Anthony Miley only for the tall defender to direct his header over the bar. Immediately Town responded as Bassett surged upfield before cutting inside and playing the ball across to Fowler who from 25 yards powered his shot marginally too high.
But then in the 63rd minute substitute Liam Thomas, who had only been introduced a few minutes earlier, broke clear from the half-way line and outpaced the trailing defenders before finishing from 20 yards with his customary composure and efficiency by sliding the ball past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the corner of the net, so silencing the hitherto vocal home crowd.
The Old Gold, undoubtedly encouraged by that success, became even more adventurous on the counter-attack – on 75 minutes Belle received the ball from Bassett’s throw-in and strode forward to the edge of the penalty area then released a fierce shot which, after a deflection, drew a fine full-length save from Idzi. Straight afterwards Town should have increased their lead when substitute Liam McCreesh pounced on a loose ball and squared it into the goalmouth where Doidge, normally so clinical in front of goal, failed to connect properly when scoring seemed inevitable and the chance was lost. And moments later, after a good move involving Belle and Bassett, Fowler was presented with yet another opportunity but his promising 15 yard effort was blocked by a defender.
For the remainder of the match, including a seemingly endless seven minutes of added time, Bangor unsurprisingly laid siege to the visitors’ goal. But their efforts came to nothing as Town’s players demonstrated their strength of character and determination, not to mention considerable skill and organisation, to resist all of City’s efforts. None more so than Cann whose safe handling, excellent positioning and strength under pressure from the opposing forwards throughout the game was a key element of Town’s stubborn resistance.