10:32am Tuesday 13th August 2013
By Chris Kirwan
PANTEG don’t just have promotion in their sights – they are eyeing the first part of a double after earning a place in the final of the Gwalia Welsh Cup.
The South Wales Premier League is within touching distance and so is a piece of silverware after a superb 25-run semi-final success against Ammanford in west Wales.
The success – secured by Chris Mee’s five for 17 – earns the Glamorgan and Monmouthshire League, Division One leaders a Swalec Stadium showdown with Llandudno on Sunday.
“The club had never reached the final before and we deserve to be there because we’ve played some good cricket all the way through the competition,” said captain Ian Bird, whose side have also beaten Penarth, Usk, Chepstow and Monkswood on the road to Cardiff.
“Now we just need to find one more big performance because, while I don’t know much about Llandudno, they are clearly a quality side to have reached this stage.
“The boys are excited about playing at the Swalec Stadium and we just need to play like we have all season.
“It’s a great reward because this club has been through some tough times – we’ve almost been penalised for developing players that have been too good for club cricket and have gone up a level.
“We have nurtured young kids through and have reaped the benefits this year.”
Ammanford, who are battling against the drop in the Premier League, were favourites at half way after limiting Panteg, who had won the toss and elected to bat, to 168.
The visitors made a good start with Carwyn James (40) and Akhtar Balouch (33) putting on 76 for the first wicket but a steady stream of wickets left them falling short of their hoped total despite Lloyd Smith’s 38.
But Mee quickly sent three of Ammanford’s top four back to the pavilion with the score on 20 and then Chris White claimed the prize scalp of former Glamorgan batsman Alun Evans.
The west Walians were bowled out for 143 leaving spinner Bird to hail a team effort that got Panteg out of a tricky situation.
“Par was 200 in my eyes so to defend 168 on a really small ground was an unbelievable effort,” he said.
“All our bowlers rose to the occasion, Chris blew away their top order then we suffocated them with spin and took crucial wickets at the end.
“It was a really pleasing win against a side from the Premier League, which is where we want to be next year.”
Panteg will be boosted on Sunday by the return of former Glamorgan all-rounder Adam Harrison, who missed the league win against St Fagans and the cup win against Ammanford while on honeymoon.
Llandudno, who are comfortably top of the North Wales Premier League, reached the final by also beating Port Talbot the previous Sunday.
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