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Thursday, 16 March 2017 21:45

Yin and Yang in the WPL

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SATURDAY 4th MARCH: Cyncoed Campus. Cold.
CARDIFF MET 2 CARMARTHEN TOWN 2 (Dafabet Welsh Premier League)
After watching so many Met home games in 2016, the gap of a couple of months since my last visit somehow feels longer. On that occasion Carmarthen Town won, at the end of phase 1 - and whereas the Old Gold have made a good start in phase 2, Met haven't won in two months. So an away win seems more likely than it did back at New Year.

With the rather disappointing return to Saturday afternoons, ditching the very successful Sunday experiment, there's a noticeably quieter pre-match atmosphere in the stadium, and fewer familiar neutral faces. A chance then, to read the programme: whilst the university club's issues aren't going to win any awards, there's always interest in Professor Robyn Jones's programme notes. Today, his column includes phrases like "binary, two-dimensional analysis", name-checks the ancient Chinese concepts of yin and yang, and references the structuration theory of sociologist Anthony Giddens. Anywhere else, you'd assume they'd all been included to win a bet.

The match proves to have some echoes of that last encounter here at the turn of the year: Cardiff Met again playing prettier football but struggling against an effective but less attractive system deployed by the visitors - veritably an example of yin and yang football styles. When Lee Surman exploits some slack defending after 32 minutes, it's no more than Carmarthen deserve. What's more, as the scoreline stays the same until the break, it's hard to see how the home side are going to hit back in the second half - Lee Idzi and his no-nonsense defence seem to have their measure.

But four minutes into the second half, the goal the Mets so badly need arrives: some high-tempo attacking, a bit of confusion around the box, and Chris Baker sees his hard, low volley flash past Idzi. A confidence-boosting goal, but it doesn't greatly change the shape of the game - Carmarthen still look the more threatening, so it's really no surprise when Liam Thomas fires them into the lead again.

Only very late in the game do we see the students begin to show real urgency as they begin to throw caution to the wind. It's the right tactic, because it bothers Carmarthen and begins to create opportunities as they concede corners and free-kicks. As the 90 minutes comes to an end, one such incidents causes Dwayne Bailey to see Dean John's red card after a second yellow, and in stoppage time Met pile forward to exploit the numerical advantage. Eventually, amid the frantic action around the visitors' goal, Emlyn Lewis pops up at the far post to fire an equaliser. Cue jubilant "scenes" - it may only be a home point salvaged, but psychologically it's more important than that after a losing run.

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