Bangor City v Airbus UK Broughton 19:30
Some big decisions will have to be made by the Airbus UK management team as to who will replace the suspended Ben Chapman between the sticks this Friday night at Bangor.
With long term injured Nicky Lee- Bulmer awaiting a shoulder operation, and Aaron Morrison also carrying an injury, the task might have to fall to the U19s keeper, sixteen year old Nathan Williams. With the medical team working on Aaron, it looks like it will be a last minute decision.
Other than that the squad have a few little injuries, and after a couple of good displays by some of the fringe players in theWord Cup Semi-final, some of whom will be hoping to be pushing for place's on Friday night, the management team will have a difficult task picking the starting eleven.
Gap Connah's Quay v Newtown AFC 19:30
MARK McGregor has challenged Gap Connah’s Quay to build on the momentum generated by their best result of the season so far.
Nomads stormed to a 6-1 success at Llanelli on Sunday and Player-manager McGregor was fulsome in his praise after the stunning win. But he does not want it to be in vain.
McGregor has challenged his seventh-place team to ‘push on’ by beating Newtown and then taking maximum points from their trips to Aberystwyth Town and Afan Lido, two other sides who are currently below them in the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League table. Three victories from their next three matches would give Nomads an excellent chance of finishing in the top six.
McGregor told Paul Wheelock of the Flintshire Chronicle: “We’ve got to take confidence from the way we played and really push on from here. The lads have set a benchmark for themselves and the next few games are going to be crucial for us.”
McGregor and his men took advantage of the benefits of a rare overnight hotel stop before the Llanelli match. “The preparations were key,” he said. “We prepared correctly, started the game really well, and then just went from there.”
Precocious 17-year-old Rhys Healy was on top scoring form against Llanelli. Having previously had trials at Manchester City and Stoke City and his manager accepts it is only a matter of time before a full-time club comes knocking at Nomads’ door. Former Wrexham star McGregor said: “Rhys is going to be an excellent talent and he’s doing everything he can to push himself and his career forward.
“He is at the right club at the minute but I’ve always said he will play in the Football League. But at the minute he’s doing well for us and long may it continue. Since I’ve been here, I’ve moved players on to higher leagues and I wouldn’t stand in anybody’s way. But if and when the time comes, it’ll be what’s good for Rhys and what’s good for the club.”
Ricky Evans returns from suspension for tomorrow’s home clash with Newtown.
Newtown have just completed an agreement with The New Saints for the temporary transfer of central defender, Connell Rawlinson. The loan, which is under the domestic loan arrangements, will last until 31st December.
The weekend off from fixtures allowed Physio, Wayne Peter to reduce the injury list in preparation for Friday night's game at Connah’s Quay. Matthew Cooke is now available for selection after a four week lay-off. A decision will be made on captain Nicky Ward (groin) and Iain Edmunds (hamstring) on the day of the fixture, neither trained this week but received treatment. Max Penk (groin) is making steady process but is still a number of weeks away from reaching match fitness.
The acquisition of Connal Rawlinson on loan from TNS has come at a good time for us. Not only due to our injury list but Connal also brings to the squad good physical presence and a level of professionalism obtained due to his employment at a full time club. We all welcome him to the team and thank him for opting to take up a fresh challenge of helping us in trying to achieve a top 6 finish.
This is still thought to be an attainable target but it will mean points needing to be acquired immediately and more consistent performances from the squad. Connah’s Quay will be buoyant after last week's romp at Llanelli and will be understandably confident of getting the double over the Robins. Keeping Ricky Evans quiet will be one of the main jobs as he is very experienced and most influential.
Newtown midfielder, Zak Evans is suspended for three matches following his dismissal at Bangor.
Llanelli AFC v The New Saints 14:30
Llanelli welcome back Luke Bowen and Chris Venables after suspension, but will lose Ashley Evans and Corey Jenkins after their sendings off last Sunday. Martin Rose is rated doubtful after playing through injury for the team last Sunday, while Steffan Lloyd retains his place in the squad again after making his Welsh Premier debut against Connah’s Quay. Craig Williams and Ashley Hollingshead remain on the clubs long term injury list.
Bob Jeffrey takes charge of the team for his first game after replacing Andy Legg who resigned last Sunday, with Gary Lloyd assisting after the departure of assistant Stephen Jenkins. Bob is looking forward to the game saying "It will be a big challenge, but we need everyone to pull together more than ever now. We are all sad to see Andy leave and I will face a tough challenge in the coming weeks, but I will take one game at a time and see where it takes us. I couldn't have started with a more difficult game, the New Saints, Welsh Premier League Champions, but we will get together on Saturday and see what we can do."
Port Talbot Town v Aberystwyth Town 14:30
Having steered themselves into top-six contention, Port Talbot Town return to action on Saturday as they welcome Aberystwyth to the GenQuip stadium. Manager Mark Jones must have been ruing last weekend’s break however after seeing his side gather pace in their bid for a top-six place, taking a share of the spoils against Bangor City, before consecutive wins over Llanelli and Connah’s Quay fired the Steelmen into fifth-place.
Last time out two weeks ago Aberystwyth Town lost 3-2 to Bala Town in front of the TV cameras after taking a 2-0 lead, with Matty Collins scoring in the first half and Declan Carroll scoring his first competitive goal for Aberystwyth. Manager Tomi Morgan was disappointed with that result but was hopeful of a more positive result against Port Talbot
“After being two goals up, you would hope that we would be able to see the game out, and the fact we couldn’t was disappointing, but we could take positives from the game, and if we can get our consistency up, we know we can compete with the best in the league”
Back in September Aberystwyth fell to a disappointing 5-0 defeat to Port Talbot, and Aberystwyth will be hopeful of a more positive result this time out.
The injuries that have plagued the Seasiders squad so far this season look to be easing though, as although long term injuries still affect Sean Thornton and Michael Walsh, the rest of the squad look to be available, with Bari Morgan, Gavin Cadwallader and Glyndwr Hughes all in contention for a first eleven place. Youngsters Liam James and Rhydian Davies will also retain their places in the squad, while any of Gethin Jones, Dylan Evans, Christy Gale and Ifan Burrell could be used to fill the squad.
Jones has suspension worries to content with for the visit of the Seasiders with captain Cortez Belle and influential midfielder Carl Payne both serving one-match bans. Lively young winger Jake Parry is fit once again after receiving stitches for a head wound sustained in Port Talbot’s 6-1 win over Connah’s Quay.
Carmarthen Town v Prestatyn Town LIVE ON S4/C 15:45
Tim Hicks and Jonathan Hood are suspended for Carmarthen and Craig Hughes is back in the squad for the first time this season. In a novel fundraising cause the Old Gold will be wearing “Old Pink” for this match with the shirts to be auctioned for charity.
Twenty-one year old Liam Thomas, Carmarthen Town's star midfield player, has signed a new contact tying him to the Richmond Park club for the next two years. The signing took place prior to the Old Gold's league cup semi-final victory over Llanelli.
Looking at the squad overall, the Carmarthen Town manager mused:
“The young players in the team are benefiting from playing regular football at this level. Add to this, the fact that our senior players are now getting match fit, following injuries and suspensions, and you have the reason why we have put together five very good performances on the trot winning four matches and losing just the one. Ironically, the one we did lose was a fantastic performance and a fluke result.”
“It has been important in training to turn comments like, ‘what happened?’ into ‘well done!’ I am especially pleased for the group of players who have believed in what we have asked them to do and are now getting just rewards for their efforts.”
In looking at the forthcoming fixtures Aizlewood pointed out that, on paper, they could not be more difficult with a home clash against league leaders Prestatyn Town followed by away matches at top clubs Bangor City and The New Saints immediately afterwards.
“Playing sides in the top third of the table holds no fears for Neil or myself, neither for our group of players. In fact, we relish it, and I am eagerly anticipating playing them. To date we have twice beaten high-flying Airbus Broughton, drawn at home with TNS and matched Bangor for eighty eight minutes, so playing these sides is not a daunting prospect for us.”
Aizlewood also went out of his way to praise the loyalty of the club’s supporters. “I hope that the turnaround in results, and our appearance next January in a major final, will give them even more enthusiasm in what are currently somewhat difficult times for the area.”
Bala Town v Afan Lido 14:30
Bala Town entertain Afan Lido this Sunday afternoon at Maes Tegid and are hoping to reverse the result of our previous meeting when Afan Lido beat us 1-0. Bala are currently in sixth position with Gap Connah's Quay, Newtown, Llanelli and Carmarthen very close behind us, but looking above us Port Talbot are only one point ahead of us and Airbus four points ahead. Therefore with all the teams so close together every point from now to the beginning of January is essential to ensure we stay in the top six before the split.
Colin Caton will be without two players this weekend; Stephen Brown is not available due to his suspension and John Irving, who has been out for a few weeks already, is still not available because of a knee ligament problem, but Ross Jefferies; Mike Byron and Conall Murtagh are all fit and available for selection.
Afan Lido’s Sam Hodge has again decided to return to Australia for family reasons and all at Afan Lido wish him a safe journey and look forward to his return in the future.
A late fitness will be given to Gareth Phillips, who made a brief return to the Reserves last Saturday. Apart from Gareth, there are no reported injury concerns for manager Paul Reid.
This week’s contributors…..
Chris Harte, Gareth O Jones, Neil Dymock, Aneurin Venables, Matt Burgess, Mick Mayfield, Ruth Crump, Alan Howells and Paul Wheelock.
Thanks to all…. Ed.