Severely depleted by a combination of injuries and unavailability, the Reds nevertheless stormed into a 3-0 lead at Grenig Park within the opening half hour, but a comeback by their opponents brought the scores level eight minutes into the second half. From then on, the lead changed hands with bewildering speed with the visitors edging ahead again only to be clawed back once more, and eventually falling behind with just three minutes remaining, before a Lee Trundle penalty, his second of the game, saved the day and ensured a point.
With Craig Morris, Anthony Finselbach, Ross Jones, Callum Silcox, Liam Samuel and Jordan Follows all absentees, the Reds were forced to play a half-fit Luke Jones from the start, but he lasted just twenty minutes before being replaced by Harrison Davies.
Before this, however, it was Jones who opened the scoring in the first minute when Trundle guided a pass into his path, and he directed his finish over goalkeeper Robert Jones into the top corner. In the absence of Morris, Conah McFenton, signed during the week from Port Talbot Town, took his place in goal, and he did well in the early stages by keeping out an effort at his near post from Ashley Curtis when he connected with a low driven cross.
Having replaced Jones, with almost his first touch Davies extended the lead when Trundle again layed on the chance, finishing well, with a well placed shot wide of Jones in the 21st minute. When the home side were awarded a free kick, Craig Spring saw his strike deflect narrowly off target, and when the subsequent corner came across, Lee Bevan did well to get in a block as the ball was driven goalwards.
Bevan was then involved again, this time sending Trundle clear, and when he unleashed his shot, Jones did well to divert it for a corner. Trundle had set up the first two goals, and repeated the effort again when he found Richard Lewis wide on the left, who despatched a well struck attempt over the despairing clutches of the home keeper after 28 minutes.
Despite the deficit, the home side were still displaying plenty of effort in their general play and were rewarded when they pulled one back seven minutes from the break following a Ryan Thomas set piece which was met by Gareth Howarth, who guided it past McFenton from close range. Buoyed by this, Thomas directed another free kick over the wall and fractionally wide of the goal, but on the stroke of half time, a sublime piece of skill by Davies left home defender, Jordan Vickers, for dead, and his cross into the middle found Trundle who headed home, only for an offside flag to rule it out.
An early second half chance came Trundle`s way, but on this occasion he was only able to divert it over the top, before two goals by the hosts in the space of three minutes changed the whole complexion of the contest. A Vickers free kick lofted goalwards in the 50th minutes caused confusion in the Reds` ranks and McFenton was unable to keep it out, and within three minutes of this, he was at fault when in attempting to grasp another high ball allowed it to slip from his grasp, leaving Thomas to fire into the net.
When Trundle was sent clear by Davies and made tracks into the box, he appeared to be impeded, but referee James Sheils waved away the penalty appeals, although he did point to the spot in the 72nd minute when Trundle was fouled, and the ex-Swansea City legend stepped up to smash the kick past Jones to edge the Reds ahead one again.
Their elation was short-lived, as within six minutes their opponents were back on level terms, when for once Bevan failed to clear effectively, allowing Curtis to gain possession before finding the net just inside the near post. If this was bad enough, worse was to follow when for the first time in the match the home side went ahead when another free kick was only partially cleared as far as Curtis, who notched up his brace with a great finish low through a crowd of players after 87 minutes.
To their credit, the visitors hit back, and remarkably were all-square again within two minutes with the award of a second penalty after Trundle was again brought down, allowing him to step up and hammer it past Jones. Five-all at the close of a crazy ninety minutes of football, but at least the Reds can celebrate the fact they are still unbeaten going into the New Year, whilst also being the only club throughout the three Welsh League divisions with this record.
CWMAMMAN UNITED; Jones; Johns; Vickers; Medwin; Howarth; Spring ©; Thomas; John; Curtis (Croucher, 90+1); Langley (Morgan, 82); Eames (Saunders, 74); Sub. not used; Lewis.
LLANELLI TOWN; McFenton; Graves; Lewis; R. Thomas; C. Thomas; Bevan ©; Jones (H. Davies, 20);
J. Davies; Wade (Martin, 78); Trundle; Morgan.
SCORERS; Cwmamman United – Howarth, 38; Vickers, 50; Thomas, 53; Curtis, 78, 87.
Llanelli Town – Jones, 1; H. Davies, 21; Lewis, 28; Trundle,72(P); 89 (P).
YELLOW CARDS; Cwmamman United – Thomas; Medwin; Croucher.
Llanelli Town – R. Thomas; Wade.
REFEREE; James Sheils (Swansea).
The Reds now take a three week break before their next game scheduled for Saturday, 7th January, when they are at home to Aberdare Town. Kick off 2 p.m.
When Mike Evans gave the visitors a 9th minute lead in this JD Welsh Cup third round tie to send the huge travelling support into raptures, the Reds might have been fearing the dreaded “banana-skin” syndrome, and when they failed to hit the heights in the first period, their opponents were still well in contention of bringing off a shock result, before normal service was resumed in the second half.
A Luke Jones equaliser just before the half hour eased the nerves somewhat, and no doubt after some strong words in the confines of the dressing room during the interval had the desired effect, with a far more assured performance in the second half, culminating in further four goals from Liam Samuel, Luke Morgan, Richard Lewis and, inevitably, Lee Trundle easing them safely through to the fourth round of the competition.
An attendance of 708 witnessed a thoroughly entertaining clash between the division two leaders and the third tier visitors who, on this evidence, are destined for a positive life in the Welsh League and could well be playing at a higher level in the not too distant future. For the home side, Jordan Davies again caught the eye with another fine midfield display, while it was good to see Samuel recapture the form which made him such a prospect prior to his horrific injury a couple of seasons ago, causing problems on the wide right whenever in possession.
It was he who set up the first Reds` chance, laying the ball into the path of Trundle whose shot was parried by Ynys keeper, Liam Sheehy, only as far as Chris Thomas who then found the net only to be denied by an offside flag. A run by Lewis which took him into the box from a Trundle assist saw him go down under a challenge, but referee Tom Bevan waved play on. Following these early sorties, the hosts were then caught with a sucker punch following a corner by Adam Davies into the middle which led to a scramble in front of goal, and eventually Evans found space to steer the ball home at the far post, much to the delight of the Ynys fans. When the Reds pushed forward, Trundle found Samuel who in turn directed a pass to Lewis, but his finish soared over the top.
Jones could then only direct his finish into the hands of Sheehy when Trundle set him up, and when Samuel got clear down the right and into the area, his final ball went across goal and just past the back post. When the visitors were awarded a free kick, it required a timely intervention by Thomas to prevent Davies from making contact and a possible shot on target, before the home side levelled matters on 29 minutes with Samuel again involved, crossing low into the goalmouth where Jones was on hand to divert the chance past the keeper.
Samuel himself then went close with a sweetly struck 25 yarder which sailed inches wide when Trundle provided the opportunity, and Sheehy was called into early second half action, pushing away a shot from distance by Trundle. The Reds made an early change with Luke Morgan replacing Robert Thomas after 54 minutes, and within two minutes of this they took the lead through Samuel who did well to accept a ball from Trundle before cutting inside and firing past Sheehy.
Four minutes later, the lead was extended with Samuel and Trundle involved in the initial build-up, allowing Morgan to apply the finish with a crisp shot past the keeper. Ynys were now visibly wilting with their opponents firmly in charge of proceedings, and a fourth success arrived in the 67th minute when a deep cross by Morgan was met on the volley by Lewis who smashed it past the helpless Sheehy. Callum Silcox came on to take the place of Lewis with 20 minutes remaining, and four minutes later Jordan Follows took over from Kyle Graves. With the tie won, the Reds still were far from finished, and six minutes from the final whistle, Follows played in Trundle who kept up his goal-a-game ratio, hammering his effort past the keeper. Just before the end, Trundle was put clear down the middle by Anthony Finselbach and made ground into the box before being challenged by Sheehy and ending up in a heap, but again referee Bevan was not interested in the award of a penalty.
At the close, despite the early scare, the Reds were worthy winners and now progress to the fourth round, but Ynysygerwn can take heart from their overall display against opponents in a rich vein of form, riding high on the back of an 18 match unbeaten run.
LLANELLI TOWN; Morris; Graves (Follows, 74); Lewis (Silcox, 70); Finselbach; C. Thomas; Bevan ©; Samuel; J. Davies; Jones; Trundle; R. Thomas (Morgan, 54); Subs. not used; Powell; H. Davies.
YNYSYGERWN; Sheehy; Powell; Sedgemore (Gardner, 70); J. Davies; Morris; Phillips © (Tristram, 79); Miller; A. Davies; M. Evans (Jones, 73); Newell; Morgan; Subs. not used; C. Evans; Humphreys.
SCORERS; Llanelli Town – Jones, 29; Samuel, 56; Morgan, 60; Lewis, 67; Trundle, 84.
Ynysygerwn – M. Evans, 9.
YELLOW CARDS; Llanelli Town – Jones.
REFEREE; Tom Bevan (Claberston Road).
Pontypridd Town are the Reds` opponents next Friday evening at Stebonheath in a league game. Kick off 7.30 p.m.