WPL 2017/18 PREVIEW: Connah’s Quay Nomads
AFTER A SEASON FULL OF HIGHS AND LOWS, CAN THE NOMADS CLOSE THE GAP ON TNS?
The 2016/17 season was very much one to remember for Connah’s Quay Nomads, as they ended up finishing second to champions The New Saints. And if there’s one expectation this season, it will be to close the gap on TNS, who ended up finishing the campaign 27 points clear at the top of the Welsh Premier League table.
It was a summer to remember for Connah’s Quay Nomads, as they beat HJK Helsinki, the team that are top of the Finnish Veikkausliiga, 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League tie. It was a fantastic result, and one that many in Welsh football are considering to be among the best results by a Welsh Premier League side in Europe. In the second leg HJK Helsinki inevitably fought back and ended up knocking Connah’s Quay Nomads out 3-1 on aggregate. However, that result has lifted the optimism around Connah’s Quay Nomads for the upcoming season, with many Welsh football supporters suggesting this side is capable of challenging for major honours.
Those suggestions will only have got stronger with the news that the Nomads have signed 4 players to full time contracts. The four players signed on full time contracts are Joe Heath, Jake Phillips, Declan Poole and Rhys Williams. Defender Joe Heath joins from Runcorn, having been a full time player in the English Football Leagues for years, playing for many clubs including Nottingham Forest, Lincoln City and Hereford United. Jake Phillips is also a defender, and started his career at Vanarama National League side Wrexham, before spending last season at Cefn Druids. Young goalkeeper Rhys Williams also joins the club, after impressing whilst on trial during pre-season. Midfielder Declan Poole is the only player who was at the club last season to become full time, and many Nomads fans will remember him scoring a sensational goal against The New Saints to help earn the Nomads a victory over the runaway champions last season, earning himself ‘Goal of the Month’ in the process.
The Nomads have also signed defender Luke Denson from Colwyn Bay, and midfielder Andreas Bianga from Droylsden on part time deals. Departing the Nomads ahead of the 17/18 season are forwards Les Davies, Shelton Payne and Nick Rushton, midfielder Tom Field, and defenders Lewis Short, John Disney and Wes Baynes. Les Davies and Nick Rushton have gone to Welsh Premier League rivals Bala Town and Newtown, both Lewis Short and John Disney have joined Altrincham, Wes Baynes and Shelton Payne have dropped down into the Cymru Alliance division, joining Airbus UK and Rhyl respectively, and Tom Field has been released.
Pre-season has been interesting for the Nomads following on from their Europa League Qualifying matches, with the side winning 2, drawing 1 and losing 1 as they aim to prepare for the upcoming campaign. It’s steady progress for the side, but they will be desperate for a good start to the season on Friday (11th August), when they take on newly promoted side Prestatyn Town.
Manager Andy Morrison, who’s been at the helm for the Nomads since November 2015, has signed a new contract, tying himself to the Flintshire club for the foreseeable future. He’s a polarising figure in Welsh football, with his never say die attitude endearing him to the Nomads supporters, yet opposition fans find him a frustrating figure, who they love to hate. However, no matter your opinion on him, one thing is certain, he has transformed the Nomads since being appointed, taking them from being a mid-table side, to title challengers in under 2 years, qualifying for Europe in both seasons. In fact, he has been one of the best managers in the Welsh Premier League since taking over, and no matter what players take the field, with him at the helm, you can guarantee that the Nomads will be difficult to beat.
Jake Phillips-Cefn Druids
Rhys Williams-Free Agent
Luke Denson-Colwyn Bay
Les Davies-Bala Town
Wes Baynes-Airbus UK Broughton
Shelton Payne-Rhyl FC
‘The Nomads sealed a shock win over HJK Helsinki in the first leg of their Europa League Qualifier’
Photo Credit: Daily Post Wales
Photo available from: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/sport/football/match-reports/europa-league-superb-nomads-stun-13260793