What to expect from the North East Wales Football League 17/18

This year marks the seventh season of the Welsh National League’s feeder competition and there is plenty you’ll want to know heading into an exciting new season.  

The new season kicks off on Tuesday 8th August as teams gear up for another year of competitive football in the North East Wales League.

First of all, two teams got promoted from the league last season, these were 2nd place Mynydd Isa Spartans and 3rd place Cefn Mawr Rangers, both will now compete in Welsh National League (WNL) Division 1.

1st place CPD Sychdyn did not receive promotion however as their ground didn’t meet WNL standards and subsequently the club folded on Wednesday 5th August due to the aim of promotion not being achievable.

Hawkesbury Bell have also folded from the league following a poor performance last season as they finished 13th.

Also during the off season 7 the North East Wales Football League allowed 7 newcomers to join:

  • Airbus Broughton UK Youth
  • Bellevue FC
  • Brymbo Victoria
  • Marchwiel Villa
  • Penyffordd Lions
  • Plas Madoc
  • Rhosllanerchrugog

These combine with 10 clubs from last season to expand the league from 14 to 17 teams. With fixtures starting on Tuesday 8th August, here’s a rundown of what each team will bring to what promises to be an exciting league.

These previews won’t take pre season friendlies into account but will look at this seasons NEWFA cup games so far (because they’re competitive) as well as statistics from previous seasons.

Acton FC

Last Season: 7th

After finishing right in the middle of the table last season, Acton will be determined to push for promotion this year.  They certainly have all the chance but will face very stiff competition for those top spots.

In order to finish in such a position, the team will need to win a few more games.  A very achievable task as the squad has competed in the competition for the previous 6 seasons, therefore definitely have experience on their side

Airbus Broughton UK Youth

Following in the footsteps of Connah’s Quay Nomads, Airbus have decided to enter an academy side into the competition to allow them to regularly face experienced sides and acquire knowledge of the game they perhaps wouldn’t gain if they only played other youth teams.

Although likely not as strong as the Nomads’ academy, it would be surprising if Airbus finish near the bottom of the league as they will be showcasing some of the best young talent North East Wales have to offer.

Aston Park Rangers

Last Season: 11th

Aston Park are one of the oldest clubs in the league, dating back to 1981.  They are the type of club which opposition can never count out no matter what form they are currently on.

However, after managing only 8 wins in the 16/17 campaign, Rangers will be disappointed and looking to climb up the league table.

They seem to be working hard in pre season but whether or not this effort will help them reach places above mid table is unpredictable.

Bellevue FC

The story of Wrexham’s mixed ethnic minority team will be one everyone should keep an eye on as they debut in the competition this season.

Many of the lads playing for Bellevue spend unthinkable amounts of their free time with a ball at their feet so expect a lot of skill to be on show whenever Bellevue compete.  They’re definitely a side which could cause a few teams problems in the league and it’ll be amazing to see such an enthusiastic team take the field each week.

Bradley Park

Last Season: 14th

After finishing bottom, Bradley will hope history won’t repeat itself.  In order for this to come true they will need a large all round improvement.

Signs of improvement were shown in their NEWFA cup game against higher league opposition in New Brighton Villa, Bradley did lose 4 – 0 but this is a lot smaller score difference than many would’ve predicted.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Saturday 5th August: New Brighton Villa (WNL Division 1) 4 – 0 Bradley Park

Brymbo Victoria

Converted to a ‘Saturday side’ following the abolition of the Wrexham Sunday League, Brymbo Victoria will head into their first season in the North East Wales League on the back of finishing bottom of the Sunday League and finishing runners up in the 6 team Keith Hales Cup.

Thus, the side does have experience and knows how to win but similar to many teams in this division, predicting how well the team will do is near impossible.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Saturday 5th August: Brickfield Rangers (WNL Premier) 7 – 0 Brymbo Victoria

Caerwys FC

Last Season: 10th

Caerwys’ main problem last season was scoring goals, netting only 48 in the season.  If they can change their attack to a style which gets them more goals they are definitely looking at a much improved place.

However, if they want to push for the top end of the league they will need to improve their defence too, conceding 56 goals last year is quite low considering their finish but way too high to be seen as one of the league’s best.  If they’ve worked hard during pre season they could be a recognised force in the competition.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Tuesday 1st August: Caerwys 2 – 1 Mold Town Utd
Saturday 5th August: Caerwys 1 – 4 Buckley Town (WNL Premier)

Connah’s Quay Nomads U18

Last Season: 4th

Nomads U18s had a tremendous season in 16/17 finishing 4th and scoring the most goals with 108.  They’re one of the favourites for the league title as they are the highest place team in the competition from last season and they are an effective goal scoring side.

But as a youth side, many of the players who were crucial last season may have moved on either away from the club or to the first team meaning it can’t be guaranteed last seasons performance can be replicated and improved upon for the new season ahead.

Flint Mountain

Last Season: 6th

Flint Mountain look to be in incredible shape heading into the season.  They start the new season with a new ground in the form of Northop Hall Pavilion which meets the standards required to gain promotion.

This suggests that Flint Mountain are confident of a successful season which they’ll be hoping sees them competing in the WNL from the 18/19 season onwards.  They are definitely amongst the favourites for the title and many teams will have them on their radars throughout the season.

Halkyn United

Last Season: 8th

Halkyn have acquired some very good players ahead of the new season, including 4 players who’ve spent time at a high quality Mold Alexandra side as well as number of players from the now defunct Sychdyn side, including their top goal scorer Tez Pughe, who have experience of winning this league.

The skies the limit for this Halkyn Side, they’re strong contenders for promotion and even the title providing they stay fit and motivated.

Marchwiel Villa

Marchwiel are a reforming side looking to find their feet during this, their first season in the North East Wales Football League.

Their recent 19-1 loss to last seasons 1 win WNL Division 1 side Maesgwyn makes it seem as though this isn’t a side you can expect to see in the top half of the table.

But one thing is for sure, the team will play with a lot of a pride every week and sometimes that alone can be enough to earn vital victories.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Tuesday 1st August: Maesgwyn AFC 19 – 1 Marchwiel Villa

Mold Town Utd

Last Season: 9th

Mold have spent a number of years in this league so know what it takes to earn a win here.  However, following an average season in 2016/17, improvements will be necessary if they want to put themselves in the title race.

They recently narrowly lost to fellow North East Wales Football League side Caerwys a trend they’ll be hoping won’t continue throughout the season.  Which, if they work hard in training, shouldn’t be the case for a team like this.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Tuesday 1st August: Caerwys 2 – 1 Mold Town United

Mostyn Dragons

Last Season:  12th

Despite their poor performance last season, which saw them win a mere 4 games, Mostyn have showed a huge amount of ability recently in the NEWFA cup beating 2 of the WNL Division 1 title favourites in FC Penley and Rhydymwyn.

Results like this bode well for the Dragons upcoming league campaign.  Consistent performances like the two mentioned would put them in promotion contention but the question that the league season will be sure to ask of them is can they constantly perform to this level?

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Tuesday 1st August: FC Penley (WNL Division 1) 1 – 3 Mostyn Dragons
Saturday 5th August: Rhydymwyn (WNL Division 1) 2 – 4 Mostyn Dragons

Offa Athletic

Last Season: 5th

Offa finished level on points with 4th placed Nomads U18s, thus putting them amongst the favourites to win the league.  The team will be motivated to achieve promotion this season too, after finishing 5th two seasons in a row they will be desperate to get up into the top 3.

Offa suffered a disappointing extra time loss to league newcomers Penyffordd Lions in the NEWFA cup recently which, although unfortunate, won’t worry them too much as they are well aware what they are capable of on their day.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Tuesday 1st August: Offa Athletic 2 – 3 Penyffordd Lions A.E.T

Penyffordd Lions

Following folding from the WNL Premier in July 2016 a newly formed Penyffordd side are showing intent to succedd in their inaugural season under the name Penyffordd Lions.

Wins in the NEWFA cup against Offa Athletic and WNL premier side Corwen have proven that this side mean business and have likely got a firm belief that they can win promotion to the WNL in just one season.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Tuesday 1st August: Offa Athletic 2 – 3 Penyffordd Lions A.E.T
Saturday 5th August: Penyffordd Lions 1 – 0 Corwen

Plas Madoc 

Plas Madoc are another side debuting in the league this season with impressive NEWFA cup wins already under their belt, including WNL Division 1 side Llangollen Town.

From the couple games they’ve played, its obvious the team know how to find the back of the net and if they keep up the strong performances it would not come as a surprise if Plas Madoc are battling for the top spots come April/May time.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Wednesday 2nd August: Plas Madoc 4 – 2 Rhosllanerchrugog FC
Saturday 5th August: Plas Madoc 5 – 3 Llangollen Town

Rhosllanchrugog FC

Rhos have had a hectic pre-season making sure they are prepared as they can be for their fist season since being refounded earlier this year.

The team have the ability to beat a lot of sides in the league although probably won’t be pressuring the top 4 just yet. Instead, they’ll likely take the season to settle in and get some well earned wins under their belts.

Recent NEWFA Cup Fixtures:
Wednesday 2nd August: Plas Madoc 4 – 2 Rhosllanerchrugog FC

Opening Fixtures

The following games will be played on Tuesday 8th August:

Bradley Park vs Acton FC
Brymbo Victoria vs Bellevue FC
Caerwys vs Aston Park Rangers
Connah’s Quay Nomads U18s vs Airbus Broughton UK Youth
Flint Mountain vs Halkyn United
Marchwiel Villa vs Offa Athletic
Mostyn Dragons vs Penyffordd Lions
Plas Madoc vs Rhosllanerchrugog FC

In conclusion, the North East Wales Football League once again promises to be a hotbed of excitement with favourites such as Offa, Flint, Halkyn and Nomads U18s not only having to worry about each other but also possible dark horses like Penyffordd, Plas Madoc and Mostyn.

All teams provide a huge threat and it is perhaps one of the hardest North East Wales leagues to predict.  This upcoming season is very, very promising.

(Featured Image: ALincoln)

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