Welsh League Division Two
Ammanford 1 Croesyceiliog 1
Ammanford inched ever closer to safety and all but ensured their place in Division Two next season thanks to an outstanding half volley from Ben Soal, writes Nick Davies.
The hosts will feel content with a 1-1 draw against Croesyceiliog despite a lacklustre performance as they looked to increase the distance between themselves and the drop-zone.
Gruff Harrison’s men now find themselves 12 points clear of second-bottom Newport YMCA with 23 of the season’s 30 games played.
More importantly, they have the breathing space of seeing three sides between themselves and the YMCA side, including Croesyceiliog – although the weekend’s visitors do have two games in hand over Ammanford, but are thwarted by a far inferior goal difference.
There was early optimism at the Rec that Ammanford could clinch three vital points points that would have had them looking upwards for the remainder of the campaign rather than over their shoulder.
The home side started well with Dayle Selvage making a darting run through on goal to latch on to a smart defence-splitting pass only to see his shot across goal tipped round the post by the visiting keeper.
However, Croesyceiliog made it clear they were in no mood to hand over the points and rattled the crossbar with a powerful strike.
And their determination to ease their own relegation fears became abundantly clear just a minute later when they countered down the right flank.
A snappy short ball into the box was met by the visiting striker who turned sharply and finished past a stranded Jamie Rano 12 minutes in.
Suddenly Ammanford’s early enthusiasm began to seep away like the air from a leaky balloon.
From the kick off Chris Hyde went on a mazy run only to be dispossessed.
Croesyceiliog sensed the tide had turned and dispossessed Euros Griffiths in his own half before a precise cross was met with a wayward volley when it seemed easier to score.
Rano was left fuming at his defenders when he was forced to tip a curling shot round the post after the visiting forwards were left unmarked.
Ammanford almost struck back as Hyde’s powerful free-kick hit the post, and they finally did equalise 10 minutes before the interval.
Owen James fed a pass into the box and when the ball was deflected clear it fell to Soal, who struck a sweet half-volley into the top right corner with the astonished Croesyceiliog keeper left flat-footed and open-mouthed.
However, the eventful first half was not matched after the break as the game fizzled out.
James and Hyde linked together well with a neat one-two only for Hyde’s tame shot to be saved.
James also hit an effort straight at the goalkeeper when well-placed to score.
Luke Fayres came on late into the game and had one opportunity, but his rash shot cleared the crossbar as both teams were forced to settle for a point.