WPL 2017/18 PREVIEW: Llandudno FC
CAN LLANDUDNO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER A DISAPPOINTING SEASON?
The big question on everyone’s lips regarding Llandudno’s upcoming campaign, is can they bounce back after a disappointing season fighting relegation?
In Llandudno’s first season in the top flight, they stunned many supporters by finishing in the Top 6, ending the season in third place and sealing European qualification. However, their second season was much different, with the side struggling to replicate the form that saw them excel in the first season, and Llandudno will be reflecting on a lucky escape, having finished in 9th place, just 5 points clear of the relegation zone. Really, there’s no doubt that Llandudno will be hoping to return to the Top 6 this season, and it should give onlookers a chance to see if they are once again capable of challenging for Europe, or if they are more suited to being regular relegation battlers.
In order for Llandudno to try and challenge for Europe and the Top 6 again, they’ve been active in their recruitment, bringing in highly rated youngster Shaun Cavanagh from Bangor City, experienced midfielder Ryan Edwards from relegated Airbus UK and hot prospect Sam Ilesanmi from Tranmere Rovers, while prolific striker Toby Jones has rejoined the Seasiders from relegated Rhyl. While 4 have joined, 6 have departed Maesdu Park this summer, with strikers Jamie Reed and Lewis Buckley joining Newtown and Cefn Druids respectively, midfielders Leo Riley and fan favourite Gareth Evans have joined Airbus UK and Caernarfon Town, while striker Liam Dawson and youngster Jamal Crawford have both been released.
In preseason, Llandudno played 7 matches, winning 4 and losing 3. Their preseason preparations began with a match against Huws Gray Alliance side Caernarfon Town, which was a testimonial for Llandudno striker Liam Thomas, who has been at the club for 13 years. Llandudno beat Caernarfon 2-1, and continued their preseason with a win at Colwyn Bay, before suffering a 1-0 loss to English Football League 2 side Colchester United. The Seasiders bounced back from that defeat, beating Llangefni Town, before losing again, this time to English Football League 1 side Wigan Athletic 4-1. With 2 defeats in 5 games, they then smashed Tranmere Rovers 5-0, before losing in the Mike Hughes Memorial Cup final to Stafford Rangers FC.
Manager Alan Morgan will be hoping to motivate his talented squad to emulate the highs of the Seasiders’ first season in the Welsh Premier League, rather than the lows of the second. Having taken the reigns in November 2012, he was instrumental in the Seasiders rise to the Welsh Premier League, and with a squad that looks stronger than last seasons, they should be capable of challenging for the Top 6 in a strong league this season.
Shaun Cavanagh-Bangor City
Toby Jones-Rhyl FC
Ryan Edwards-Airbus UK Broughton
Sam Ilesanmi-Tranmere Rovers
Lewis Buckley-Cefn Druids
Leo Riley-Airbus UK Broughton
Gareth Evans-Caernarfon Town
Jamal Crawford, Liam Dawson-Both Released
‘Long serving Llandudno forward Lee Thomas takes the field in his testimonial match vs Caernarfon Town in pre-season’
Photo Credit: Neil Sheldon
Photo available from: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/day-remember-llandudno-footballer-lee-13283209