Les Davies scored the vital goal
After an enforced three-week absence from competitive action, Carmarthen belatedly began their Welsh Premier League second phase programme with a spirited performance against a strong Bangor side only to lose eventually by the narrowest of margins.
The visitors, benefiting no doubt from playing regularly during that period, took the early initiative with a series of flowing moves which immediately put the Old Gold defence under pressure and it was not too surprising that after just 11 minutes Bangor’s Les Davies rose to meet Chris Jones’ fine cross and head the ball firmly past ‘keeper Steve Cann.
However E H Factors & Clothing sponsored Town reacted positively to that setback and through a combination of resolute defending and creative midfield progress they pressed increasingly further forward, using the pace and penetration of strikers Liam Thomas and Geoff Kellaway to good effect. On 18 minutes after Ian Hillier’s long throw-in was only partially cleared he was quickly to the loose ball and from 20 yards his drive went just narrowly wide of the post. Shortly afterwards Hillier floated a free-kick deep into the congested goalmouth where Paul Fowler leapt above the rest but headed the ball marginally too high.
By now the game had become more evenly balanced as the play switched rapidly from end to end, but with both defences looking solid and dependable very few scoring opportunities were arising. Town defenders Carl Evans, Tim Hicks and Craig Hanford were clearly under instructions to man-mark the Bangor strikers, while just behind them Hillier provided excellent cover where and whenever necessary; they performed with such discipline and skill that Cann was never seriously troubled for the rest of the game.
In the 34th minute Carmarthen fashioned another scoring chance when from Cann’s long free-kick Christian Doidge, who was continually causing problems for the opposition defenders with his height and strength, won the ball in the air but from 25 yards his volley went just too wide. Then, on 41 minutes, at the other end Jones finished a strong run from the half-way line with a fierce long-range drive which took a deflection and flew harmlessly over the bar.
Shortly after the interval Cann again launched a free-kick deep into the visitors’ half to reach Doidge on the edge of the penalty area but, cramped by defenders, he once more struck his shot wide of the post. Then a rare chance opened up for the visitors on 69 minutes when Davies got beyond Town’s back line but his sharp strike from 15 yards was well held by Cann.
Carmarthen, prompted by the energy and creativity of midfielders Corey Thomas, Nicky Palmer and Fowler, continued to press forward in search of an equaliser and in the 79th minute they were gifted a golden opportunity when Bangor ‘keeper Lee Idzi handled a back-pass on his 6-yard line. The ensuing indirect free-kick was played to Fowler whose powerful shot was blocked by the mass of defenders on the goal-line and although Liam Thomas was quickly to the rebound his effort too was cleared to safety.
As the match reached its final stages Evans, who had been released from his defensive duties and moved forward as an auxiliary striker, rose highest in the crowded goalmouth to meet Hanford’s corner-kick only to see his header comfortably gathered by Idzi. And in added time Evans, on the edge of the penalty area, set up a good chance for Kellaway but his drive went straight to Idzi.
Town will be disappointed to have got nothing from this match after having competed so well once Bangor had taken such an early lead. But they can take encouragement from their performance here against one of the stronger sides in the Welsh Premier League Championship group and now look forward to their Welsh Cup quarter-final tie with Prestatyn Town next Saturday at Richmond Park (2nd March ko 2:30pm).