After six hugely successful seasons in charge of the Nomads, the news broke on Tuesday that Andy Morrison had stepped down as manager of Connah’s Quay.
Craig Harrison has been promoted from assistant manager to take up the leading role, and with a record six titles to his name during his time as manager of The New Saints, the club have ensured that Morrison’s replacement has all the right tools to sustain the same level of success.
Since taking over at the Deeside Stadium in 2015, Andy Morrison has transformed Connah’s Quay from being a ‘bottom half’ club, into back-to-back league champions.
During his tenure the Nomads have won the Nathaniel MG Cup (1), JD Welsh Cup (1) and the JD Cymru Premier (2), not to mention the historic victories in Europe and in the Scottish Challenge Cup.
But following a tough start to the season, Connah’s Quay are eight points behind The New Saints after only six games, and Morrison has decided that it’s the right time to move on.
The cup competitions have taken centre stage over the last week, but now we turn our attentions back to the JD Cymru Premier, and Connah’s Quay will face a long journey to Haverfordwest County on Saturday.
But before then, there’s a tasty fixture ahead at Cae-y-Castell on Friday night between the two teams that are level on points in the 2nd and 3rd positions.
Friday, 1 October
Flint Town United (2nd) v Bala Town (3rd) | Friday – 19:45
After a busy week, Bala Town have booked their place in the Nathaniel MG Cup quarter finals, and have also secured a spot in the JD Welsh Cup fourth round.
A goalless draw at Nantporth on Tuesday meant that Bala Town relied on penalties to beat Bangor City in the Nathaniel MG Cup, before going on to win 5-0 against Pontypridd on Saturday, who were unbeaten in their previous 26 matches.
The Lakesiders will face Haverfordwest County in the next round of the JD Welsh Cup, and will welcome Newtown to Maes Tegid in the Nathaniel MG Cup.
Bala Town are the only club in the league who haven’t lost a domestic game this season (won 7, drawn 3), but two of those victories were on penalties which means that they’ve only won five out of 10 after 90 minutes.
But Colin Caton’s side have won their last three matches against Flint Town United, including their penalty shoot-out success in the Nathaniel MG Cup third round at Cae-y-Castell this season.
Since that defeat, the Silkmen have won all four of their home games, and have secured a Flintshire derby against Connah’s Quay in the next round of the JD Welsh Cup after winning 3-1 at Penrhiwceiber Rangers last Saturday.
Flint Town United: ✅✅❌✅❌
Bala Town: ➖➖✅✅✅
The New Saints (1st) v Aberystwyth Town (10th) | Friday – 19:45
The New Saints and Aberystwyth Town are through to the JD Welsh Cup fourth round following their victories over Conwy Borough and Cefn Druids over the weekend.
The Saints will travel to Carmarthen Town in the next round, while Aberystwyth will head to Saltney Town, who are the only third tier side left in the competition.
TNS are four points clear at the top of the JD Cymru Premier, and with the 2nd and 3rd placed teams going head-to-head this Friday, Anthony Limbrick’s troop will be determined not to slip-up at Park Hall.
Despite the decent performances, Aberystwyth Town’s young squad find themselves in 10th place after six games, and only Cefn Druids (1) have scored fewer league goals than the Black & Greens (4).
Three of those four goals came in their mid-Wales derby win against Newtown a fortnight ago, therefore Antonio Corbisiero will hope that the scoring rut has been resolved.
They might have struggled going forward, but the Aber defence have been robust this season, conceding the same amount of league goals as table-toppers TNS (6).
But it will undoubtedly be a tough test for the Ceredigion crew who haven’t won in their last five meetings with the Saints (lost 4, drawn 1).
The Oswestry outfit remain unbeaten in the league this season, and astonishingly, haven’t lost at home to Aberystwyth Town in 28 years (November 1993)!
The New Saints: ✅✅✅➖✅
Aberystwyth Town: ❌❌❌❌✅
Saturday, 2 October
Haverfordwest County (11th) v Connah’s Quay (6th) | Saturday – 14:30
Andy Morrison’s reign as Connah’s Quay manager has come to an end, but the club will be expecting a smooth transition as his assistant, Craig Harrison makes the step up into the boss’ office.
A couple of prosperous performances in the cups over the past week has seen Connah’s Quay book their place in the next rounds of the Nathaniel MG Cup and JD Welsh Cup.
The Nomads won 6-3 against Airbus UK on Tuesday night, before a 4-0 triumph at Trefelin in the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday.
Craig Harrison’s Connah’s Quay will face Holywell Town in the Nathaniel MG Cup quarter final, and will prepare for another Flintshire derby against Flint Town United in the fourth round of the Welsh Cup.
It’s been a good week for Haverfordwest County as well who recorded wins against Undy Athletic and Airbus UK to progress in both cup competitions.
The Bluebirds will challenge Cardiff Met in the next round of the Nathaniel MG Cup, and will welcome Bala Town to Bridge Meadow in the JD Welsh Cup.
It’s safe to say that the distraction of the cup games may have come at the right time for Connah’s Quay who were on a poor run of four games without a win in the league.
The champions have dropped to 6th place, eight points behind league leaders The New Saints after only six games.
Having conceded only four goals in six games, Connah’s Quay’s defence remains one of the best in the league, but it’s at the other end that the Nomads have been falling short, as they’ve only scored five league goals.
But once again, the cup interruption may have been beneficial in that aspect as the Nomads’ forwards surely will have had their confidence boosted after netting 10 goals in two games.
Haverfordwest County will also be on their high horses after three consecutive wins, but it could be a big ask for the Bluebirds who have lost their last five games against Connah’s Quay.
Haverfordwest County: ➖❌❌❌✅
Connah’s Quay: ✅➖➖❌❌
Cardiff Met (7th) v Cefn Druids (12th) | Saturday – 14:30
Cefn Druids are also dealing with the departure of their manager as Niall McGuinness left the club after only six league games in charge.
Ex Tottenham and Portsmouth winger, Andy Turner has taken over as interim manager and had his first taste of leading the side last Saturday as the Druids fell to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Aberystwyth Town in the JD Welsh Cup.
It’s going to take a monumental effort for Andy Turner, or whoever will take the Druids job on a permanent basis, to turn the club around, as the Ancients have lost their last 15 league matches, which is the worst ever run in the JD Cymru Premier in its current 12-team format.
The Druids may be plummeting, but the students are flying after winning five of their last six matches.
Cardiff Met won both of their cup fixtures during the past week against two top tier sides, knocking Aberystwyth Town out of the Nathaniel MG Cup (2-5), before beating Barry Town United in the Welsh Cup (3-0).
Dr. Christian Edwards’ boys will play Haverfordwest County in the next round of the Nathaniel MG Cup, and will look forward to a trip to Colwyn Bay in the Welsh Cup.
Cardiff Met haven’t lost in their last four meetings with Cefn Druids (won 2, drawn 2), but the Ancients will need to climb out from under their rock sooner rather than later.
Cardiff Met: ➖➖✅✅❌
Cefn Druids: ❌❌❌❌❌
Pen-y-bont (8th) v Caernarfon Town (4th) | Saturday – 14:30
The league table doesn’t quite tell a fair story of Pen-y-bont’s season, as Rhys Griffiths’ side are in 8th position having won only one of their six league games.
But only The New Saints and Bala Town (0) have lost fewer games than Pen-y-bont (1), as the Bryntirion team have picked up four good points in four draw matches against the four clubs who qualified for Europe last season.
Pen-y-bont have only lost one of their last eight games in all competitions, which means it will be a difficult test for Caernarfon Town who have only won one of their last nine away games in the JD Cymru Premier.
But Caernarfon Town have won four of their last five games, which includes a comfortable 3-0 win against Prestatyn Town in the JD Welsh Cup third round.
The Cofis will return to the SDM Glass Stadium again within two weeks to face Pen-y-bont in the fourth round of the JD Welsh Cup, after their victory against Cambrian & Clydach last Friday.
Pen-y-bont are unbeaten in their last five meetings with the Canaries (won 2, drawn 3), and a win for the home side would lift them above Huw Griffiths’ gang.
Caernarfon Town: ❌❌➖✅✅
Barry Town United (5th) v Newtown (9th) | Saturday – 14:30
Both managers will be keen to put last week’s disappointment behind them as these two teams crashed out of the JD Welsh Cup.
Barry Town United lost 3-0 to Cardiff Met, while Newtown were on the wrong side of a shock defeat to Carmarthen Town as the Old Gold got the better of Chris Hughes’ crew on penalties.
Newtown have lost their last two league games, dropping from 4th position down to 9th.
Barry Town United are unbeaten at home in all competitions this season (won 5, drawn 1), but the Robins are unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Dragons (won 2, drawn 2).
Barry Town United: ➖✅✅✅❌