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Monday, 13 November 2017 11:14

Undy downed Featured

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SATURDAY 11th NOVEMBER The Causeway, damp and overcast.
UNDY ATHLETIC 1 LLANELLI TOWN 2 (Nathaniel Cars Welsh League Division One)

Wet overnight weather casts doubt on this Saturday's fixtures, but a mid-morning assurance from Undy that their pitch isn't (yet) waterlogged is enough for me. I set off for the Gwent levels, not that far but not the easiest journey either, as Undy is served by just one bus an hour from Newport. Train times are more convenient, so I travel to Severn Tunnel Junction, having completely forgotten that it's a two mile walk without footpaths. I pay the price for forgetfulness, constantly having to step onto the sodden grass verge to avoid traffic.

Undy's Causeway ground is a work in progress at present. Six foot mesh fence units block off most of the pitch perimeter rail, and on the car park side there's a building site, where the base of a new seated stand is in place. None of this is a problem to me, as I've come partly to see how (or rather if) work towards Tier 2 criteria is progressing and partly to watch promotion favourites Llanelli Town for the first time this season. With a reasonable turn out of visiting fans, the work does mean that unobscured views of the pitch are in short supply. I just hope the rain holds off.

Things do not start well for the West Walians (who are playing in light blue). The red and white shirted home side score in the second minute, Cullimore sent clear to beat Scott Coughlan. Then Tre Marrett pulls up with a hamstring injury and has to be replaced. The first fifteen minutes see Llanelli penalised for some bad challenges, whilst up front Lee Trundle skies his shot when put clear. Shortly afterwards Jordan Follows puts a similar chance wide of Smallcombe's post. Undy are good value for their 1-0 lead at the break, Coughlan having made a couple of smart saves to prevent further damage.

Llanelli come out for the second half and immediately seem to have upped their work-rate to try to grind out a result. Possession is finally turned into a reward when Follows goes clear to score (with defenders appealing in vain). Half an hour left and the momentum shifting in the visitors' favour. It's not been one of Lee Trundle's most flamboyant performances, but it only takes one moment of magic. Today it's an assist, a perfect threaded pass in the box that enables Follows to slip the ball inside the post.

The last fifteen minutes are mostly played in Llanelli's half. In the gathering gloom and steadily increasing rainfall, Undy throw everything at them in search of an equaliser. They create a few half-chances but just can't break down a resolute defence.

Llanelli hold on for the win. To them, this will be a hard-fought three points ground out on a tricky pitch. Whereas Undy will rightly be disappointed not to have got anything from the game. Did Llanelli look WPL-ready? Not today, but it's unfair to judge: the surface didn't help, and these away days in the Welsh League don't always lend themselves to expansive football. The Reds should take comfort from the fact that last season Barry were battling in similar fashion for every point - and a year on they're beating TNS away!

Not fancying the walk back to Severn Tunnel in the dark, I wait for the hourly bus, which fails to turn up. I could (but won't) ramble on about the alternative journey - the shared cab, the passenger with no cash who also realises he's lost his keys at the clubhouse - catch me in person and I'll tell you the full anecdote.

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