Could have won it – could have lost it. An uninspiring Reds` performance ultimately ended with them earning a point, but they were well below their best, perhaps summed up by a missed Lee Trundle penalty – a rare event in his book. Their opponents, as with most visiting sides, arrived with a game plan – play one lone striker and flood the midfield and defence, making it almost impossible to find a way through on goal.
However, the home side also seem particularly vulnerable to set pieces whether they be corners or free kicks, and both the Croesy goals came from their inability to deals with such situations. The visitors also spurned a couple of other gilt-edged opportunities which, if taken, could well have seen them claim a famous win, with an early chance coming the way of Rhys Williams from a Ryan Hayward assist, but with the target in his sights, he took too long over his shot and was eventually closed down by the covering defence.
This proved to be his last involvement in proceedings as an injury forced him off to be replaced by Lewis Clare after 19 minutes, but despite the change,Croesy continued to match the Reds for effort and were well in the contest. Sam Ward saw his strike deflect for a corner when Trundle found him, before Craig Morris was forced off his line to just beat Nick McGrath to a ball over the top of the home rearguard.
Somewhat against the run of play, the home side took the lead on 33 minutes after Jordan Davies played a pass into the feet of Trundle, who with minimal back lift found the bottom corner past goalkeeper Nick Church. The Reds` euphoria lasted barely two minutes with their opponents drawing level when a driven low delivery by McGrath across the goalmouth led to Dan Pritchard tapping it into the net from close range.
Buoyed by this success, the visitors pushed forward and created a glorious chance of taking the lead when McGrath was put though on a one-to-one with Morris, but the keeper blocked his effort, and when the rebound fell to Clare, a timely tackle by Davies prevented any further alarm.
Having survived this scare, the Reds came close themselves when another inspired piece of skill by Trundle saw him turn his marker and send a chip over Church, but it clipped the post and went over for a goal kick.
The Swansea City legend was again involved when a further attempt deflected for a corner taken by Davies and delivered into the goalmouth, where it bobbled about on the line before being cleared with the Reds appealing that it had gone over, but without success. Three minutes into the second half, the home lead was restored following an initial effort by Liam Samuel which rebounded off the crossbar but was met by Joe Clarke who struck it low into the net.
But just as in the first period, the Reds` joy was short-lived as within three minutes following a Matthew Sainsbury free kick swung into the goalmouth which led to an almighty scramble in front of the net, Tom Doidge was accredited with the final touch to send the ball over the line. As the half progressed, the Reds were enjoying plenty of possession but were wasteful in their distribution, gifting it back to their opponents, but they were thrown a lifeline when Trundle was brought down in the area, and on the advice of his assistant, referee Paul Hitchcott eventually pointed to the spot.
Trundle himself took the kick, but for once failed to find the net, his attempt rebounding off a post before being hacked away. The Reds then made a couple of changes with Luke Jones and Ross Jones replacing James Loveridge and Wade respectively, and both sides went close to another goal, with a further Sainsbury free kick from distance just off target, while a shot on the turn by Trundle suffered a similar fate. With the contest in stoppage time, the hosts were awarded a free kick just outside the box which Trundle drilled low into the goalmouth, but somehow Church managed to keep it out with a foot, although he knew little about it. This proved to be the last telling incident of a game the home side will not look back on with any particular satisfaction, the only consolation being they could well have come unstuck.
LLANELLI TOWN; Morris; Graves; March; Clarke; C. Thomas; Bevan ©; Samuel; Davies; Wade (R. Jones, 76); Trundle; Loveridge (L.Jones, 71);
Subs. not used; Jones; R. Thomas; Morgan.
CROESYCEILIOG; Church; Sainsbury; Edmonds; Morris ©; Doidge; Harris; Williams (Clare, 19); Pritchard (Hill, 88); Hayward; Lygo (Hall, 83); McGrath;
Sub. not used; McKraclan.
SCORERS; Llanelli Town – Trundle, 33; Clarke, 48.
Croesyceiliog – Pritchard, 35; Doidge, 51.
YELLOW CARDS; Llanelli Town – Clarke; Davies; Samuel Croesyceiliog – Hayward; Doidge.
REFEREE; Paul Hitchcott (Ammanford).
The Reds make the short journey to meet Garden Village next Friday evening, kick off 7.30 p.m.
On Wednesday, 5th April, they face first divison side Caerau Ely in the semi-final of the League Cup at Afan Lido`s Marston Stadium, also with a 7.30 p.m. start.