The first silverware of the new year in Welsh football was handed out today as Carmarthen Town eventually saw off their Welsh Premier League Cup final opponents The New Saints in an eventful goal-fest at Latham Park, Newtown.
The New Saints, leading the current Welsh Premier League standings by seven points from nearest challengers Prestatyn Town, struck first with Steve Evans giving his side the lead after just seven minutes. Parity was restored just three minutes before half-time when Carmarthen Town, who currently lie in seventh place in the Welsh Premier League table, got back into the game through Craig Hughes. After the break further strikes were traded between both teams in a topsy-turvy fashion. The New Saints regained the lead after Sam Finley’s shot went in off a post on 58 minutes only for Carmarthen Town to turn things around following a brace from sub Corey Thomas, helping his team to a 3-2 lead. However, the game was to take a further twist when TNS’s Michael Wilde equalized with six minutes remaining helping to take the game into extra-time.
In the following thirty minutes of extra-time there were no further goals and, thus, the game required a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner of the trophy. In the ensuing shoot-out it was Carmarthen Town who kept their nerve, prevailing by a 3-1 scoreline. Craig Hanford scored Carmarthen’s fourth penalty to make it 3-1 and then saw victory secured when TNS’s Paul Harrison had his spot kick saved. Carmarthen’s success was only their second such triumph in this competition having previously beaten Rhyl FC to win the 2004-05 edition of the tournament.
An announcement has been made by the Football Association of Wales today with the shock news of the untimely death of former Leeds United, Newcastle United, Everton, Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United and Wales star Gary Speed. The news has shocked all of the football scene in the United Kingdom, and in his native Wales in particular, his national team he had recently led to three successive wins and had signalled a turn in fortunes since he took the job in February this year.
His greatest honour as a player came with the triumphant Leeds United First Division title winning side of 1991-92, the last season before the top-flight became the Premier League, plus he also appeared for his favourite boyhood team Everton and appeared in back-to-back FA Cup finals with Newcastle United in 1998 and 1999, albeit on the losing side on both occasions. He also became the most capped outfield player with 85 caps for his country and became the first player to clock up 500 Premier League appearances, scoring in every season in which he was a professional footballer.
Stoppage Time would like to send its condolences to his family and friends at this most traumatic time.