Doidge pounces late to seal the points for Town
CARMARTHEN Town defeated Port Talbot Town in a pulsating match.
It exploded into life with two goals inside the first five minutes and continued at a frenzied pace as the two sides provided a feast of attacking football.
The Old Gold took the lead in only the third minute when Kyle Bassett cut in from the left and dribbled past his marker with ease before driving the ball low into the goalmouth where Liam Thomas emerged from a crowd of defenders to stab it home from close range.
However, Town's celebrations were cut short as the visitors struck back just 90 seconds later with David Brooks surging down the left and firing in a dangerous cross which defender Craig Hanford attempted to clear, but only succeeded in slicing into his own net.
The end-to-end pattern of play became established as Carmarthen went close to restoring their lead when Bassett slipped a neat pass to Matty Collins, who from 20 yards curled a delightful shot which keeper Steven Hall just managed to turn around the post.
Then on 13 minutes Port Talbot striker Rhys Griffiths moved quickly on to a through ball but his angled drive from the corner of the area flew across the face of goal and outside the far post.
After 21 minutes the visitors went even closer to going ahead when Brooks's sharp strike had Town keeper Steve Cann beaten, but Corey Thomas was back to hack the ball away to safety via the underside of the bar.
Town almost conceded another own goal when Port Talbot defender James Bloom finished a strong run down the left with a searching cross into the goalmouth where the luckless Hanford mis-kicked his attempted clearance, but this time saw the ball roll safely beyond the post.
The Old Gold were still a threat on the counter with the electric pace of Liam Thomas and Bassett stretching the visitors' defence, while Christian Doidge used his height and strength to good effect in aerial challenges.
But it was midfielder Corey Thomas who created the best chance in the later stages of the first half when he made a determined run to the edge of the area before playing the ball into the path of Paul Fowler, whose fierce strike was deflected narrowly over.
On 56 minutes Luke Cummings made progress down the right and delivered a fine cross into the goalmouth where Doidge's header crashed against the bar and bounced away.
But almost immediately Carmarthen found success as the lively Liam Thomas outpaced two defenders and powered his shot from the corner of the area into the roof of the net.
Moments later Doidge rose highest to meet Bassett's corner but directed his header wide of the post.
Gradually the visitors began to enjoy a greater share of possession, but Town's defence withstood the pressure. This was due, not least, to an immense performance from Carl Evans who dominated Griffiths and Martin Rose so effectively that they rarely got within sight of goal. Alongside him, central defensive partner Chris Thomas provided excellent support.
After 67 minutes came a pivotal moment when a close-range strike from Martin Rose was blocked superbly by Cann. A follow-up hit the foot of the post and finally the loose ball reached Griffiths, who fired just wide.
Having emerged unscathed from that episode, the Old Gold remained a serious threat on the break and in the 88th minute secured a well-earned victory with a third goal. It was brilliantly fashioned by Bassett, whose tricky footwork enabled him to get away from his marker and send an inviting cross into the area where Doidge pounced to stab the ball past Hall and into the net.
Team: Steve Cann; Luke Cummings (sub Casey Thomas 85); Chris Thomas; Carl Evans; Craig Hanford; Matty Collins (sub Liam McCreesh 68); Paul Fowler; Corey Thomas; Kyle Bassett; Christian Doidge; Liam Thomas (sub Craig Hughes 90). Unused subs: Jordan Follows; Alex Chrysanthou.