Saturday 18th July 2015 (12.05pm).
Sporting Marvels 4-2 Llantwit Fardre.
Cambrian Lakeside Sports Academy, Clydach Vale.
Attendance: Circa 20.
Normal service in the Sporting Marvels tournament was interrupted for 90 minutes on this sunny Summer afternoon when South Wales Alliance Premier side Llantwit Fardre visited the Cambrian Sports Academy for a pre-season test against South Wales Alliance side The Sporting Marvels.
The published fixture list suggested that today’s opening match would be between Sporting Marvels and Rhondda League side Blaenrhondda. However it appeared this fixture had already been played earlier in the tournament (as is my understanding) as Blaenrhondda started their end of season tour in Nottingham yesterday.
With this in mind, Llantwit Fardre volunteered to fill this afternoon’s vacant spot for a friendly match with The Marvels.
The Marvels were in fine form on Thursday, confidently and ruthlessly trouncing South Wales Alliance Premier Division side Treforest 5-0. It was going to be interesting then to see if they played with the same high intensity given that this was a non-tournament match.
I arrived at Cambrian Academy just in time to see the first game of the day kick off.
Llantwit, although a side a few tiers down the Welsh pyramid, arguably started the match the stronger with several positive attacking moves in the opening quarter of an hour. There were no clear cut chances early on in this friendly but until Sporting Marvels opened the scoring Llantwit looked quite a threat.
As mentioned above, Sporting Marvels would take the lead in this game on 19 minutes with a seemingly non-threatening free kick from about 45 yards out. Such was the non-threatening nature of the free kick that I didn’t even notice who took the kick, as they spotted the Llantwit goalkeeper off his line and followed in with an audacious lob that gave his side a 1-0 lead.
The one thing that struck me was that the amount of familiar faces I noticed on the Sporting Marvels lineup this afternoon. Luke Jones lined up for The Marvels side, a player who I’d watched recently line up for Tonypandy Albions. I was also intrigued to see the very highly rated Connor Berry who I’d previously seen appear for Ton Pentre line up for The Marvels in today’s game.
On the half hour, Llantwit were unlucky not to level affairs after a great opportunity was presented to their No.11 in front of goal. Unfortunately the Llantwit striker took a little too long to compose himself to make an attempt at goal, by the time he composed himself a returning Marvels defender was able to make an effective block.
A few minutes before half time tempers threatened to spill over when both sides’ No.7’s locked horns on the deck. In the end it all appeared to be nothing more than a little bit of pushing, shoving and angry looks.
45 minutes in to the match the Marvels doubled their advantage when their No.9 slotted home from the edge of the box after the Llantwit keeper was caught unaware, his view of the ball blocked by one of his defenders.
Sporting Marvels took what looked like an unassailable 3-0 lead on 57 minutes with what I noted as being an “unlikely goal” in my phone memo app. Marvel’s No. 8 scored a lovely goal, picking the ball up on the right wing, moving towards the edge of the box and firing a furious shot across the box that nestled in the back of the net on the left hand side of goal.
In what was a first for me this year, a Llantwit player went down with what looked like a pulled muscle, needing to leave the pitch. Without a substitute at hand and looking like they would have needed to finish the game with 10 men, Marvels midfielder Steven Weston, who had previously been substituted after an ongoing run-in with a Llantwit player, volunteered to take the 11th spot on the Llantwit team and with this being a simple pre-season friendly, why not?
Weston immediately injected life into the now dejected Llantwit side, within two minutes of being on the pitch Weston laid a beautiful pass across the field to Llantwit’s Aaron Finlayson who fired home a powerful shot from the edge of the box into the far corner of the goal to give his side some hope going into the final 25 minutes of the game.
Three minutes later the curse of Weston continued as he laid on yet another goal for Llantwit. His pass lead to a spectacular defensive mix up on the edge of the box, with the goalkeeper getting up off the floor after a collision Llantwit’s Finlayson was again able to place the ball calmly into an empty goal from 10 yards out to make the score 3-2.
It is testament to a player like Weston, who has that old-school ‘Gazza’ kind of childlike love of the game, he doesn’t mind who he plays for, where he plays or what position he’s asked to play in, he just seems in a world of pleasure just being on the pitch, which is lovely to see.
Just when a comeback looked to be on the cards, The Marvels took control of the game again and scored their fourth and final goal with a quarter of an hour of the match remaining. The Marvels No.9 hit a lovely shot from 20 yards which rebounded off the crossbar into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Luke Jones was desperately unlucky not to add a fifth and final goal when he skilfully beat a Llantwit player on the edge of the box before hitting a lovely shot at goal which beat the flailing goalkeeper but rattled the post and went out for a goal kick.
So all in all, this was a relatively entertaining friendly between two sides that did well under an increasing temperature (trust me, I’ve got the sunburn on my forehead to prove it).
My Man of the Match: Sporting Marvels No.9 takes this dubious accolade with a cool and calm performance and an appearance on the scoresheet.