The Cymru Premier makes its return this evening after a brief break as ‘Phase 2’ of the season kicks off with four Friday night fixtures.
Included in tonight’s games are two teams who became major talking points during the break, as both Cefn Druids and Caernarfon made unexpected managerial changes – both clubs, you suspect, will be glad to let the football do their talking and shift the focus away from off-field matters.
The Ancients’ decision to sack Huw Griffiths came as a major shock after they narrowly missed out on a place in the Championship Conference but the rationale behind the club’s reasoning was made all the more perplexing when just hours later, he was appointed as manager of Caernarfon Town.
The cynic in me points towards Griffiths’ sudden appointment at The Oval as being a convenient means to circumvent the Cofis need to have an Uefa Pro Licence holder in place as manager . It’s a suggestion not without substance, given the fact that last year Caernarfon briefly demoted Sean Eardley to assistant manager and appointed Pro Licence-equipped Alan Bickerstaff as manager for a spell that barely lasted four months with Eardley again resuming the role.
Despite lacking a Pro Licence, Eardley is held in high esteem by Caernarfon and rightly so. He has the success-hungry supporters firmly on his side having assembled a committed team that produces positive, attacking brand of football that has kept the club in the Championship Conference. From an outsider perspective, it would seem odd that the club would want to demote him to an assistant role given the impact he has had on the team but perhaps this time, with their arm twisted by licensing pressures, Huw Griffiths’ appointment has been taken with a long-term view and it will intriguing to see how the two work can together in such a competitive environment.
Griffiths will have little time to ease himself into life in the Caernarfon dugout as they host a strong Bala Town outfit in front of the live Sgorio cameras, but the remit for Caernarfon for the duration of the season will be to attempt to remain competitive as one of the weaker sides in the Championship Conference and make a push in the play-offs.
Griffiths’ former club make the short trip to relegation candidates Airbus UK Broughton with assistant Jayson Starkey in charge until new manager Stuart Gelling takes over next week.
Airbus’ relegation rivals Penybont and Carmarthen Town face each other at the Kymco Stadium. In the remaining Friday night game, The New Saints have a four-point lead at the top of the table ahead of the visit of Newtown.
On Saturday, star-signing David Cotterill will make his debut in a Barry Town shirt against Connah’s Quay and Play-Off Conference hopefuls Cardiff Met and Aberystwyth face each other at Cyncoed.
Unstoppable Seasiders look to press on
Prestatyn Town are looking to continue their march to the Cymru North title with an eighth-straight victory at home to lowly Porthmadog. Flint Town United lead the chasing pack and visit struggling Llangefni. Mid-table Ruthin Town are looking to snap a run of four-straight defeats against third-place Colwyn Bay. Rhyl are looking for a third win on the bounce that could take them into fifth-place against Penrhyncoch.
In-form Pontypridd looking to dent Swansea Uni’s title charge in Cymru South
Swansea Uni and Haverfordwest County continue their tussle at the top of the Cymru South with just a point separating the two sides. Second-placed County will be hoping mid-table Pontypridd can do them a favour against leaders Swansea Uni with Ponty unbeaten in their last six league outings. Haverfordwest meanwhile host Cwmbran Celtic looking to make an immediate bounce back from last week’s defeat to Swansea Uni. Briton Ferry, third, will be looking to maintain the pressure on County against Cambrian and Clydach, and Llanelli are in search of a third-straight win when they entertain Taffs Well.
JD CYMRU PREMER
Championship Conference: Caernarfon v Bala (Fri), The New Saints v Newtown (Fri), Barry Town v Connah’s Quay. Play-Off Conference: Airbus v Cefn Druids (Fri), Penybont v Cefn Druids (Fri), Cardiff Met v Aberystwyth
JD CYMRU NORTH
Llangefni Town v Flint Town United (Fri), Llandudno v Bangor City (Fri), Guilsfield v Gresford Athletic, Llanfair United v Colwyn Bay, Llanrhaedadr v Buckley Town, Penrhyncoch v Rhyl, Prestatyn Town v Porthmadog, Ruthin Town v Conwy Borough
JD Cymru South
Briton Ferry v Cambrian & Clydach (Fri), Goytre United v Ammanford (Fri), Afan Lido v STM Sports, Caerau Ely v Cwmamman United, Haverfordwest v Cwmbran Celtic, Llanelli Town v Taffs Well, Pontypridd Town v Swansea Uni, Undy Athletic v Llantwit Major