CWMBRAN CELTIC 2 LLANELLI TOWN 0
On their visit to Celtic Park last season in a Welsh Cup tie, the Reds were on a six match winning stretch but on the day were somewhat unfortunate to lose 2-1
Coincidentally, they arrived at the same venue for their league encounter with the same unbeaten record having recorded six victories in league and cup, but this time they were well below par and suffered their first defeat of the season to opponents who were far more geared to the occasion, with the result the visitors seldom offered any attacking threat and could have few complaints at the eventual outcome.
Their cause was not helped by the absence of key players, with Robert Thomas serving the first of a three match suspension following his red card against Ammanford, Richard Lewis unavailable, while injuries to Steve Stone, Jak Shannon, Rhys Powell and Jamie Evans limited team selection.
There was better news regarding the inclusion of Kieron O`Brien for his first start along with Bruno Forkuoh, but despite this the overall display was poor, and Lewis Watkins in the Celtic goal was seldom called into action.
In contrast, the hosts were a constant threat from the start with Chris Ham proving a handful down the left with his probing runs and crosses, and it was from a corner taken by him that the first chance occurred when it was headed back into the middle at the far post, but Luke Lewis failed to made a decent connection from close range.
The visitors were struggling to establish a footing in proceedings, with Forkuoh being kept quiet by Celtic captain and left back Richard Crees, while Luke Jones was living off scraps up front resulting in little in the way of a threat on the home goal.
O`Brien was forced to head over his own goal when Ham whipped in another telling cross, and from the resulting corner the ball flashed across the face of goal and was cleared off the line by Declan John.
A rare attack by the Reds led to Luke Jones doing well to retain possession in the box, before forcing Watkins to divert his shot around the post.
Craig Richards safely held low down a Ham free kick on target, while a nicely worked move led to Andrew Larcombe driving his finish just wide of the Reds` goal.
Probably fortunate still to be on level terms at the break, the visitors continued to be subjected to even more pressure after the restart with the hosts dictating the tempo, and when Lee Challenger unleashed a low effort at goal, it deflected off Lee Bevan and narrowly wide of the target.
Luke Jones took too long over a potential strike on the Celtic goal and was crowded out, and the Reds then made their first change with Liam Samuel replacing Joe Holland in the hope of injecting some life into their efforts, but this had a negative effect as within a minute their opponents took the lead.
Ham was inevitably involved, forcing Richards to parry his shot on goal but it only ran as far as Owen Cook who had the simple task of netting from almost point blank range after 58 minutes.
Luke Jones was replaced by Osian Harries, but Celtic went close to extending the lead through a Ham free kick from outside the box which rebounded off the post with Richards beaten.
They were luckier in the 77th minute when they grabbed a second, when a flowing move down the right culminated in Lewis supplying the ball into the middle for Owen Llewellyn in acres of space to sweep beyond Richards.
This was no more than the home side deserved as they had dominated the game almost throughout, while the nearest their opponents came was from a near post shot by John which Watkins diverted around for a corner.
With time running out, the Reds at last began to show some bite with John finding Sam Wade whose delivery across goal failed to pick out a colleague.
Leon Martin came off the bench to replace Fokuoh in the closing minutes, and he almost got on the end of a Mark Napieralla cross but just failed to make a connection with an attempted header.
At the close the visitors had to face up to the fact that it had been a bad day at the office which every club experiences from time to time, but with the season still in its infancy, there is still much to be played for, and with the personnel at their disposal they will be in contention for further success come next May.
CWMBRAN CELTIC; Watkins; K. Patel; Crees ©; Jones; Williams; Challenger; Llewellyn; Cook;
Larcombe; Lewis; Ham;
Subs. not used; C.Patel; Connor; Kinsella; Cheedy;Feeley.
LLANELLI TOWN; Richards; Napieralla; O`Brien; R. Jones; Berry; Bevan ©; Wade; John; L. Jones
(Harries, 68); Holland (Samuel, 57); Forkuoh (Martin, 83).
SCORERS; Cwmbran Celtic – Cook, 58; Llewellyn, 77.
YELLOW CARDS; Cwmbran Celtic – K.Patel.
Llanelli Town – R. Jones.
REFEREE; Dave Sallis (Crickhowell) ASSISTANT REFEREES ; Kevin Shaw; Tony Maher.