JD WELSH CUP - FIRST ROUND.
LLANELLI TOWN 6 PANTEG 3
Last season when both teams were in the same division, Panteg were the only side the Reds failed to beat at home during the season, the match ending 1-1.
In this latest Welsh Cup clash, once again the visitors proved to be a tough nut to crack although they were helped by some shambolic home defending which led to three sloppy goals.
With the tie entering its final stages all square at three apiece, extra time loomed, but a remarkable five minute burst of scoring by the hosts, all scored by Sam Wade, ensured their passage through to the next round.
After the disappointing 2-0 defeat at Cwmbran Celtic the previous week, the home side made a few changes to their line-up with Liam Samuel making a start and Richard Lewis returning, while Jamie Evans was a welcome face on the bench following his lengthy injury, along with Joe Holland, Bartolome Bauza, Bruno Forkuoh and Osian Harries.
Panteg were quickly into their stride and might well have taken an early lead through Luke Dyke when he took advantage of some loose defending to gain possession and make ground to the edge of the area, but his finish was weak and gave keeper Craig Richards no cause for concern.
Ross Jones forced Matthew James in the visitors` goal to parry and then hang on to his attempt when Steve Berry and Lewis were involved in the initial build-up, before the home side were disrupted by an injury to Mark Napieralla which necessitated some lengthy treatment before he was eventually forced to leave the field, Harries coming on in his place after 17 minutes.
If this was not bad enough, the visitors then took the lead almost immediately when Ben Walker was through on goal but inexplicably tried to play in Rhys Williams rather than taking the chance himself, and although the home defence managed to thwart this they then made a complete hash of clearing their lines effectively, allowing Walker a second bite of the cherry which this time he accepted, toe-poking his finish past Richards in the 17th minute.
As the half progressed, the Reds seemed devoid of any ideas of how to break down their opponents, and in fact could well have fallen further behind on a number of occasions, only the offside flag denying Panteg with some tight decisions.
A second Reds` change was made with Forkuoh replacing Kieron O`Brien on the half hour mark, and with the interval approaching they at last managed to claw their way back into the contest by levelling the scores through a delightful curling attempt by Samuel from the edge of the box after Declan John`s initial free kick was only partially cleared on 37 minutes.
However, the visitors were far from finished, and it took a good full length save by Richards to deny Kirk Hicks when the Reds` back line was again exposed, before Luke Jones with a shot on the turn just cleared the Panteg crossbar.
Against the run of play after being on the back foot for much of the half, the home side went ahead when John made a surging run down the right to the by line before cutting the ball into the goalmouth where Wade was on hand to turn it past James in the 43rd minute.
Following the long delay in play for treatment to Napieralla, referee Ken Wright added on a substantial slice of stoppage time and during this extended period the visitors drew level when again failure by the Reds` defence to get the ball clear of the danger area allowed Dyke to gain possession, and with Richards unsure whether to come off his line to challenge him or stay at home, found himself in no-mans land, and Dyke found the net with a well executed finish in the seventh minute of added time.
There was still time for Lewis to see his free kick on target pushed over by the Panteg keeper, and within two minutes of the restart the home side grabbed a third when another Lewis delivery was met by Lee Bevan whose downward header into the goalmouth led to confusion in the visitors` ranks, with the ball rebounding off a couple of players and into the net with the unfortunate Hicks being credited with the own goal.
This slice of luck seemed to rejuvenate the Reds, and Luke Jones twice went close with one effort being ruled offside while he just failed to get a proper connection with James off his line.
Forkuoh then set up another chance for the striker, but this time Jones`s shot cannoned off the bar, but Panteg were by no means out of the tie and could well have levelled matters when substitute Adrian Maguire was through on goal with only Richards to beat, but he skewed his shot wide.
They had better fortune on 72 minutes when some more dreadful defending allowed Dyke ample time and space to draw Richards off his line before slotting into a vacant net.
Stung by this reverse, the Reds retaliated with a Samuel effort striking the bar while Wade headed over from close range when Ross Jones sent a delivery into the middle.
With the clock running down it appeared as if extra time was looming, before an explosive five minute spell catapulted the home side into an unassailable lead.
On 81 minutes, John and Luke Jones combined before Wade was found in the box to steer his finish past James, and there was further drama when Panteg were reduced to ten men following a second yellow card for Kyle Edwards.
Within two minutes of this, Wade completed his hat trick, collecting a fine ball from Samuel to get behind the visitors rearguard and beating the keeper after 84 minutes.
He was then involved again four minutes from time netting his fourth when meeting a cross driven in from the right to notch up the Reds` sixth and ensure their passage into the next round of the competition.
LLANELLI TOWN; Richards; Napieralla (Harries, 17); O`Brien (Forkuoh, 30); R. Jones; Berry;
Bevan ©; Wade; John; L. Jones; Samuel (Evans, 85); Lewis; Subs. not used;
PANTEG; James; Williams; Edwards; Gabbidon (Dunne, 75); Wise ©; Roberts;
Butcher (Maguire, 66); Walker; Hicks (Probert, 61); Ryan; Dyke; Subs. not used;
SCORERS; Llanelli Town – Samuel, 37; Wade, 43, 81, 84, 86; OG (Hicks), 47.
Panteg – Walker, 17; Dyke 45+6, 72.
YELLOW CARDS; Llanelli Town – Harries; Berry; R. Jones.
Panteg – Edwards (2); Hicks; Butcher; Wise.
RED CARD; Panteg – Edwards.
REFEREE; Ken Wright (Swansea).
ASSISTANT REFEREES; David Keane; Alan Gray.
The Reds make the short journey to Pryderi Park next Saturday when they take on West End. Kick off 2.30 p.m.