Third time lucky for promotion?
2:02pm Saturday 17th August 2013 in Sport
ON the last occasion on which the Bluebirds had to drop a division from the Welsh Premier (when the new Bridge Meadow was being constructed), they fought their way back at the third attempt, with a side including players like Mickey George, Martyn James and Nigel Speedy Stephenson steering them home after two near misses, writes Robert Nisbet.
For the last two seasons, they've come very close to promotion again, with the issue going down to the last few days. They really will hope this year, under the managership of Wayne Jones and assistant Sean Cresser, that they have a strong, compact squad which can provide the skill, spirit and consistency to do the job.
A look at the squad shows straight away that there are three players in the heart of the defence with recent Welsh League championship-winning credentials. Goalkeeper Peter Blain was in the Bryntirion side which won the league just three seasons ago, while the Blues have just signed the central defensive pairing of Dale Griffiths and Sam Roden, who were the bulwark of defence for last years champions West End.
Dale was of course a popular member of the Blues squad the season before last, as was his brother Darren, who has now returned to Australia. Sam Roden is the nephew of a former Meadow favourite, the free-scoring striker Chris Roden.
This defence will be complemented by two extremely polished full backs Ricky Watts and Antonio Facciuto and of course by a player who finished last season extremely strongly, the versatile Phil Cattlin, who can do well at centre half, at right back and in the deep midfield.
A look at the midfield will at once show us the free-scoring left-sided player Richie Lewis, back for a third season and still a huge favourite with the fans. The berth on the right flank is likely to be filled by the evergreen Chris O'Sullivan, with three players in particular jousting for a spot in the centre. Rob Morgans and Sean Pemberton are players whose games complement each other perfectly and both finished last season in style. But they will be competing with a player of extensive Welsh Premier experience, PE teacher Dylan Blain, making a welcome return to the Bridge Meadow after WPL spells with Newtown, Port Talbot and Llanelli.
The situation with the strikers is equally promising. Jack Christopher and Steffan Williams struck up an extremely fluent partnership in the second half of last season and the club will hope for a lot of goals from them again this year. Also in the frame is ex-Newport County and Merthyr player Joe Leahy, who was with Ton Pentre last year and who has now moved to Tenby.
The talented midfielder Jack Britton, who was with the Blues Under-19 side and had a spell with Cardiff City before moving to Portugal, has now returned and has received his international clearance to play.
Many younger players, notably striker Greg Walters, who impressed fans from the time he scored a cracking goal against Llanelli in the FAW Premier Cup, are likely to press their claims and it all promises a season of fluent exciting football and maybe the hoped-for promotion.
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