Christian Doidge scored his first Town hat-trick
Carmarthen ended their bleak sequence of seven successive defeats in spectacular fashion with a stunning demonstration of all-out attacking football which fully justified their convincing margin of victory over beleaguered Newtown.
Town established their intentions from the start when in the 1st minute Chris Thomas finished a fine move down the left flank with a searching cross into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas, under pressure from close defenders, stabbed the ball narrowly over the bar. They then proceeded to launch a series of lively penetrating raids which pinned the visitors back on defence for lengthy spells.
Although initially further scoring chances failed to materialise, the momentum was clearly building towards the inevitable breakthrough and after 20 minutes Luke Cummings, from the right touchline, delivered a deep cross into the penalty area only to see Christian Doidge head the ball marginally wide. Then on 26 minutes a long pass from midfield found Doidge moving into the penalty area and he lobbed the ball over the advancing ‘keeper Chris Mullock leading to a flurry of activity in front of goal before Kyle Bassett managed to prod home from close range.
Moments later Bassett neatly played the ball through to Doidge whose crisp 15 yard drive was denied by a smart save from Mullock. Then Liam Thomas raced to the by-line and sent an inviting cross to the far post where Doidge headed just too wide. Next, Cummings fired another dangerous cross into the goalmouth but Doidge this time saw his glancing header strike the inside of the post before the ball bounced safely away.
The Old Gold were eventually rewarded for this punishing spell of pressure when, in the 33rd minute, winger Keyon Reffell, who along with Bassett was seriously tormenting the Newtown defenders with his pace and ball-skills, cut in from the right flank and sent a delightful cross into the goalmouth where Doidge headed firmly past Mullock.
During this time the visitors had managed only occasional counter-attacks but Town’s central defensive partnership of Carl Evans and Cortez Belle were in outstanding form and ‘keeper Steve Cann was never tested. This enabled full-backs Cummings and Chris Thomas the freedom to perform effectively as wide midfielders in support of Corey Thomas and Liam McCreesh who, with their energy and vision, were the foundation of Town’s relentless forward momentum.
And it was McCreesh who, following a free-kick in the 37th minute, provided the incisive cross that reached Evans at the far post and he powered his header into the net for the third goal. The Old Gold were by now playing with flair and freedom, leaving Newtown simply overwhelmed, and predictably another goal soon followed. As the first-half stretched into added time Reffell, with quite dazzling footwork, sped past his marker and from close to the by-line floated the ball across to Doidge who headed firmly beyond Mullock’s reach.
Following the interval the visitors started altogether more positively, clearly intent on narrowing their deficit as soon as possible. And after Shane Sutton had headed Craig Williams’ corner just wide of the post on 51 minutes he then found better direction shortly afterwards when, from a free-kick, his strong header hit the back of the net.
But that good work was undone only moments later when Doidge chased after a defender’s weak back-pass to Mullock whose hurried attempted clearance from the edge of the penalty area was blocked by Town’s top scorer and the ball rebounded, happily for him, straight into the empty net thus completing his first hat-trick for the Old Gold – the last player to achieve this feat in a WPL fixture being Tim Hicks against Bala in March 2011.
While the game continued in a more open fashion it was Town who were creating the better scoring chances. On 62 minutes Corey Thomas from the right flank drove a low cross towards the near post only for Liam Thomas, closely marked, to stab the ball fractionally wide. Shortly afterwards Corey Thomas was the architect of another chance, chipping a sublime ball to Doidge whose close-range header flew just wide of the post.
Newtown were then denied a second goal when in the 72nd minute Williams struck a promising 20 yard free-kick which Cann expertly turned over the bar. The Old Gold soon responded however with Cummings once more delivering an excellent cross into the goalmouth but Liam Thomas, reacting quickly amongst a crowd of players, headed the ball narrowly too high.
Yet as the game was reaching its conclusion Town, despite their comfortable lead, were still looking for goals and on 87 minutes Bassett provided a memorable finish when he surged forward from the centre circle, dismissively shrugged off the challenges of two defenders in typical fashion and drilled the ball home from the edge of the penalty area.
This highly impressive performance lifts Carmarthen into fifth place in the League and within reach of Rhyl who provide their next opposition at Richmond Park. And it was their most decisive result in the WPL since December 2007 when Connah’s Quay were crushed 8-0; in the team that day were current squad members Paul Fowler and Neil Smothers, while Chris Thomas was also a regular that season.