Cymru Alliance Previews: In-form Gresford Athletic head to Caernarfon

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

In-form Gresford Athletic have rediscovered their defensive solidity according to boss Steve Halliwell.

That assertion will be put to the test as Athletic head to free-scoring Caernarfon Town on Saturday looking to sustain their impressive recent form.

The visitors head into the contest seven games unbeaten and Halliwell insists that improved defensive showings account for their strong run.

He said: “Last weekend at Caersws I thought we looked pretty formidable in defence again with Jack (Jones) and Max (Peate) running the show at the back for us.

“That hasn’t always been the case this season, particularly early on when we were shipping too many soft goals.

“But we’re looking much more compact and solid right now and we know that aspect of our game will be tested at a strong Caernarfon side.

“It’s the first time for me as a manager that I‘ll be taking a team to Caernarfon and in Iwan (Williams) I’ll be coming up against the best manager in this league.

“He has got quality throughout his squad and they cause teams a lot of problems with the strength of their attack.

“The fact they were beaten in the cup by Porthmadog last week has probably done us no favours. They’ll want to make up for that and put things right against us.”

A fine 2016/17 campaign saw Athletic finish third in the division, but they have struggled to replicate that form this term.

Despite improved recent results, Athletic are still feeling the effects of a poor start to the season which saw them lose their four opening fixtures.

And with his side currently fourth from bottom in the Alliance standings, Halliwell insists that retaining positive momentum is vital.

“We’re five unbeaten in the league now and we want to extend that as much as we can” he added.

“The confidence is high right now and we’re focused on moving ourselves up the table.

“It’s a tough league and it’s already very congested with a lot of teams on the same amount of points. Hopefully we can keep this good run going and pull ourselves clear.”

Athletic have a full-strength squad for the game with Mike Latham in contention to start after scoring on his debut last weekend.

Interim Flint Town United coach Aden Shannon insists there is nor room for complacency ahead of the Silkmen's clash at Llandudno Junction

Shannon made a winning start to his second stint as United’s caretaker boss, overseeing a derby cup win at Holywell last weekend.

After challenging his players to build on that result with a league victory at basement side Junction, Shannon is taking nothing for granted.

He said: “The cup win was a great result, which gave us and the fans a lift after a difficult season so far.

”We want that result to be the turning point in our season and for us to push on now.

“Our immediate aim now is to get ourselves up the league table and we want to start that with a win at Llandudno.

“It’s sod’s law that they got themselves a brilliant win against Denbigh in the cup last week, which will have boosted their confidence massively.

“So we know what they’re capable of and there’s no way we’ll be taking them lightly on Saturday.

“We’ll need to show as much heart and spirit as we did in our performance in our Holywell to come away with a result.”

Midfielder Chris Li will be assessed ahead of the game after sustaining a knee injury last weekend, while defender Stefan Halewood is also a doubt.

Two of last season’s established Welsh Premier League sides will renew hostilities at Bellevue when Airbus travel to Rhyl.

Despite their shared history in the Welsh top tier, the fortunes of both clubs have contrasted starkly this season so far.

In-form Airbus lead the way in the Alliance table after eight wins from 10 games, while Rhyl have laboured and currently occupy ninth in the table.

A sequence of poor results culminated in Niall McGuinness departing his manager’s role, with the Lilywhites installing midfielder Mark Connolly on a player-manager basis.

Airbus boss Andy Thomas was at a loss to explain the disparity between the two clubs this term

He said: “It’s hard to say from an outsider’s point of view what’s gone on behind the scenes there.

“They have struggled a bit this season, but I’m not really interested in comparing ourselves to them or how the play.

“My only concern is how we perform and ensuring we’re doing what we should to get ourselves out of this league.

“This is going to be another tough game for us at their place. They’re a big club and have got some of the best fans in this league and the Welsh Premier for that matter.

“There’s a lot of experience in their squad and I’m sure they’ll all be up for this game.”

Martin Ford insists his struggling Queen’s Park side will play ‘without fear’ in his side’s first trip to Porthmadog.

With a solitary victory from their 10 games to date, park have found the going tough since promotion last term

But Ford has remained positive throughout a torrid campaign and insists his side will take the positive from their narrow league cup defeat against Rhyl.

He said: “We’re looking forward to it. Going to Porthmadog will be really tough for us, but there’s no reason we can’t come away from there with a result.

”Against Rhyl we looked really impressive and could easily have got something out of that game but it wasn’t to be.

”We’re on a poor run, but it only takes a bit of luck – a little deflection or a decision to go our way – to turn things around.

”We’ll keep trying to create chances and keep playing on the front foot to try and get ourselves a decent result to build on.”

Thomas could hand a role to attacking midfielder George Peers, who impressed as a second half substitute in the 2-0 Nathaniel MG Cup defeat to Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Denbigh Town will look to maintain their excellent form and leapfrog Holywell Town into third place with a home win against Guilsfeld.

Sixth-placed Holyhead Hotspur visit Caersws, while mid-table Ruthin Town go to Penrhyncoch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Email:

daniel.heald@nwn.co.uk

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