Bridge Meadow Stadium Snippets - The New Saints

Jack Wilson opened the scoring with a clinical finishJack really is on top form . . .

Catching the eye on our TV screens again was talented teenager Jack Wilson, who looked a threat whenever he had the ball and scored a peach of an opener as early as the 11th minute. He chased hard all afternoon despite the fact he was the victim of a cynical foul shortly afterwards – and is currently catching the eye as proof that TV can show talent off at its best with its repeated replays of each incident.

. . .  And so were others too!

Someone else who looked totally at home at this level was midfielder Kieran Lewis. His experiences at Merthyr Town showed what an asset he is going to be, whilst Mark Jones also marked his debut with his battling qualities up front.

I thought Corey Shephard had his best game I’ve seen so far and skipper Sean Pemberton was as strong as ever alongside Alaric Jones, Ricky Watts and Dan Summerfield at the back.

Don’t give up your day job Rob!

Club chairman Rob Edwards took over the reins from the excellent Jordan Griffiths as tweeter-in-chief for The Bluebirds and it was certainly different, to say the least! I liked his comments about Kieran Lewis being able to find space in a telephone box with Pavarotti – and even the idea that he was so enamoured by Lewis’s skills that he could watch him paint a wall.

But I’m still working out the one about the vegan tree surgeon and sandals in a London street market! So it’s 8 out of 10 for details conveyed but as to the humour Rob – don’t give up your day job just yet!

A fairy-tale rise to the top – or does money talk?

The New Saints have developed over the years from the village side of Llansantffraid – ym –Mechain, which played at the Recreation Ground near Conwy, North Wales and which was founded in 1959 as Llansantffraid F.C. Then from 1997 to 2006, the club was known as Total Network Solutions F.C. after its sponsor TNS, whose chairman Mike Harris owned the company and is still the club’s major benefactor. In 2003, it merged with Oswestry Town F.C. and three years later it adopted its current name, which in full is ‘The New Saints of Oswestry Town and Llansantffraid Football Club!

Kieran Lewis impressed in  midfield for Haverfordwest CountyA fine stadium and 3G pitch

The New Saints play on a 3G pitch at Park Hall, near Oswestry, after moving there in 2007 which accommodates 2,034 spectators of which 1,000 are seated and there are plans to upgrade the ground to 3,000 capacity in the future.  They play in green and white hooped shirts, white shorts and socks.

Amazing success that would be hard to match at any time
Last year they came second to Connah’s Quay Nomads after the season was fore-shortened because of the coronavirus and earned their place in Europe. It maintained their proud record of taking part since as long ago as 1996/97 and in EVERY year since 2000/01! Their record includes 33 matches in the European Champions’ League, 20 in the EUFA Cup or Europa League and two in the European Cup Winners’ Cup. – with 11 wins, eight draws and 36 defeats!

Their record is also amazing in Welsh football because they have won the Welsh Premier League a record 13 times, with a hat-trick from 2004/05 to 2006/t, and  eight of them coming in succession until last season!

Bluebirds’ player details

Haverfordwest County made the journey north with three players injured. Goalkeeper Wojciech Gajda (ankle), left wing back Cameron Keetch (hamstring) and Scott Tancock (swollen ankle) were missing off the team sheet but included were new recruits Mark Jones and Trystan Jones. Kieran Lewis was back in action and Jack Britton was in the squad after a period of self-isolation following a Covid 19 contact.

Steve Hall was a notable absentee after the goalkeeper has left the club by mutual consent – and we wish this popular player every future success after playing so well over recent seasons.

Manager Wayne JonesLeisurely morning and another long trip
Because of the late start for television purposes the Bluebirds’ players were able to have a leisurely morning, with breakfast at home, with local players being picked up by the bus at noon before the manager and others were picked up at Carmarthen and a few further up near Llandovery from Cardiff and the Valleys, before the trek through Newtown to Park Hall. It was a 280-mile round trip for the local lads, with a travelling time of 3 hours 20 minutes!

Once again The New Saints are sitting top of the table after winning all seven matches whilst scoring 28 goals without conceding any until the lost their 100% record with a 2-2 draw away to Aberystwyth last Saturday. It still kept them top of the table by two points from Connah’s Quay Nomads, but with a game in hand.

A women referee at the helm for this one
The referee was Cheryl Foster and there was a second female official as Laura Griffiths was an assistant ref alongside Andy Harms, with Huw Jones as fourth official.

 They’ll never please anyone, including me, but they worked well together and deserve credit for that!

Awful disappointment – but manager and captain deserve a pat on the back
Goalkeeper Matthew Turner had a mixed afternoonWhen Haverfordwest County made the long trek back from Oswestry it must have been with an air of desperate disappointment after losing a point in the closing seconds against clearly the best team in Wales on their own patch.

But Wayne Jones always shows his class post-match because no matter the away result he is always available once the team are on the bus and ready to give his view with total honesty – and I have to say the new slim-look Mr Jones is looking good on ‘Sgorio’ as well!

Sean Pemberton is the same – I give him a quick ring and he never shirks an interview – and is candid with his answers in the same way he plays his game. Thanks both – we really do appreciate it!

Television coverage is great – but it can be cruel too!

But The Bluebirds management have to take consolation from the fact that they have come of age with a relatively young squad. Being on television is a great experience but it also goes with the fact that errors are shown over and over again – and the look on Matthew Turner’s face  at the end is one that is hard to forget. But he must remember the brave saves he also made and I’m sure Wayne Jones and his coach James Devonald will be quick to point those out because he is an asset to the squad!

Action from Park Hall, home of TNS near Oswestry. Picture by Jordan Griffiths