MATCH REPORT: Llantwit Fardre 1-4 Garw SBGC – visitors have too much class and composure for inexperienced hosts

A fine individual performance from Lewis James helped Garw SBGC to a 4-1 win away at Llantwit Fadre to keep the Pontycymmer-based club in sight of the pacesetters at the top of South Wales Alliance League (SWAL) Division One.

With Storm Caroline wreaking havoc on the football fixtures across Rhondda Cynon Taf over the weekend, both sides were indubitably pleased that Tonteg Park was fit for football if a little heavy underfoot. This did not prevent Garw from putting in a totally dominant display against an inexperienced Llantwit Fardre side.

From the outset, Garw enjoyed the lions share of possession, Shaun Williams and Dale Evans an authoritative and physically more imposing partnership in midfield, while the threats out wide from Lewis James and Will Jones caused the home defence problems all afternoon. Counter-attacks seemed to be the home side’s best outlet, with both Ethan Jones and Shaun Bennett looking to use their pace against Garw’s tall but immobile centre-half Kristian Evans.

Despite resisting for the opening twenty minutes and looking fairly organised, it was an individual error that undid the home defence. Having seemingly hemmed Garw’s Lewis James in the corner of the field, the winger was allowed inside far too easily by Llantwit captain Robert Marsh. James produced a very good finish from a tight angle, but the manner of the goal clearly disappointed Llantwit managers Steve Holt and Steve Minton on the sideline.

Ethan Jones produced Llantwit’s first shot on target soon after with a direct free-kick. The forward hit it well enough but it was straight down Garw goalkeeper Tom Lewis’s throat. Then good play by Nick Batt down the right flank presented chances to both Lewis Ridgeway and Greg Jerrott; eventually, Jerrott fired wide.

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Lewis James continued to threaten at the other end, firing a free-kick of his own wide, then coming close with an effort from 20 yards after a long goal-kick. Inevitably though, the second goal would come before halftime.

Again Marsh will be disappointed with his attempts to shackle James inside the penalty area. After Harry Davies’s initial effort was blocked, the ball was fed to James who turned Marsh inside out before firing low past Jason Pritchard in the 38th minute.

However, to the enormous credit of the Llantwit players, they kept going and were rewarded after some sloppy defending by the visitors on the stroke of halftime. A ball over the top found Ridgeway and Lewis Whetter behind the Garw defence, which stopped to appeal for offside rather than deal with the threat. Ridgeway squared to Whetter who fired his shot home, despite Kristian Evans’s best effort to scramble back and block the effort on the line.

That setback seemed to fire up Garw because they came out in the second half with the same level of purpose as they displayed in the opening half hour of the first half. Playing a little deeper and more compact, there was a clear intention by Garw to draw Llantwit forward and release James on the counter with diagonal passes. It was this tactic that brought their crucial third goal ten minutes into the second half.

Having worked his way inside again, James cut back from the goal-line to Dale Evans, who showed great vision and awareness to play the ball first time across goal for the on-rushing Will Jones to slam home inside the six-yard box.

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That was the goal that ultimately broke any hopes Llantwit had of getting back into the game and despite competing gamely until the final whistle, the visitors looked threatening and likely to create something every time they ventured into the final third. There were chances for Jones and Damian Barnard before Davies struck the post. At the other end, Ethan Jones had an opportunity to reduce the deficit but shot tamely at Tom Lewis.

Then with 14 minutes left to play Garw produced a cherry for the top of their cake with the goal of the game. Garw left back Will Rowlands initiated a counter with a ball down the line to substitute Lewis Davies, who produced a Gareth Bale-esque cross with the outside of his foot that found Barnard at the back post and the forward bundled home from close range.

The win moves Garw up to 5th in the table, ten points off leaders Cefn Cribwr BC and with games in hand on all the sides above them. The defeat leaves Llantwit Fardre second from bottom with six points.

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