WPL 2017/18 PREVIEW: Bangor City FC
THE CITIZENS ARE READY TO CHALLENGE FOR THE TITLE AGAIN!
To say the Citizens 2016/17 season was “up and down” would be an understatement. Multiple managers, a high turnover of players, and new owners all showed how incredibly unpredictable a football season can be, but, comparing it to previous seasons, the 2016/17 season has to be considered a step back in the right direction, following a couple of disappointing seasons which nearly cost the club its existence.
In 2014/15 and 2015/16, Bangor City was involved in a relegation battle that they were able to survive by the skin of their teeth, and as the 2016/17 season approached, many were fearing it would be third time unlucky for a City side that was lacking in quality and depth. However, new owners took over, and the side slowly transformed, finishing the 16/17 season as deserved European Play-Off Winners. In truth, the Citizens were one of the better teams as the season drew to a close, with the side even beating Champions-elect TNS 3–0 at the Bangor University Stadium, in a performance many saw as one of the best performances by a City side since moving from their old stadium, Farrar Road, in 2012.
The Citizens’ preparations for Europe and the 2017/18 season started almost immediately following the European Play-Off win, as they appointed highly rated former Cardiff City Under 23 manager Kevin Nicholson to be their new head coach, a role in which he will work closely with Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who ended the 2016/17 season as caretaker manager following the dismissal of Ian Dawes in March. By getting this appointment sorted quickly, it allowed the new Citizens boss time to evaluate and manage his squad, before finalising any plans.
The Citizens have once again been active in the transfer market, bringing in 8 players, with 6 players departing. Defenders Danny Holmes and Tom Kennedy, midfielders Brayden Shaw, Steve Hewitt, Luke Wall and Anderson Cayola, and forwards Sam Henry and George Harry have all joined the club for the upcoming season. The calibre of the players joining the Citizens is interesting, with a mixture of experience and youth being added to the squad that ended the 2016/17 season so brightly.
However, amongst the departures were key players Gary Roberts and Henry Jones, who both impressed last season. Gary Roberts joined Southport after the Citizens lost patience with his off the field problems, and Henry Jones joined ambitious Vanarama National League side AFC Fylde. Other players departing the club include Yalani Baio and Sergio Uyi, as well as youngsters Christophe Aziamale and Shaun Cavanagh, with the latter joining Welsh Premier League rivals Llandudno.
While the Citizens failed to progress in the Europa League, following a 4–0 aggregate loss to Danish Superliga side Lyngby BK, there is a renewed sense of optimism for this season, with many feeling that the Citizens squad looks strong, and the club could finally be ready to battle the likes of The New Saints and Bala Town for the Welsh Premier League title.
With the season fast approaching, the Citizens final pre-season match is against Everton Under 23’s at the Bangor University Stadium on Saturday, 4th August 2017, with the match being a Testimonial to former Bangor City manager Neville Powell. Everton Under 23’s should provide a stern test for the Citizens, having won the Premier League 2 title last season, and the game is guaranteed to give onlookers a chance to see how prepared Bangor are for their opening game vs reigning champions The New Saints on August 11th.
Luke Wall-Accrington Stanley
Brayden Shaw-Accrington Stanley
Steve Hewitt-Accrington Stanley
Danny Holmes-York City
Tom Kennedy-AFC Fylde
Sam Henry-Blacon Youth
Anderson Cayola-Artesa de Segre
Henry Jones-AFC Fylde
Sergio Uyi, Christophe Aziamale, Yalani Baio- All Released
‘The Citizens celebrate their European Play-Off Final win’
Photo Credit: Welsh Premier League
Photo Available from: http://www.welshpremier.co.uk/news/Bangor-City-win-Play-off-to-qualify-for-Europe/107371/