Llanelli Town boss Andy Hill believes the club remain on course to achieve their targets for the season, despite a recent blip in form that has seen them lose top spot in Welsh Football League Division One and exit the Welsh Cup.
The Reds began the season as many people’s favourites to clinch the Welsh Football League title following their invincible promotion from Division Two last season. They lived up to that form early in the season by winning their first five games 5-2, 4-1, 4-2, 4-0, 3-0.
However, a trip to Haverfordwest in late September saw The Reds fall to a 3-1 defeat and their last five league matches have seen them win just twice. They remain in touch with current leaders Haverfordwest County – just 3 points in arrears and with a game in hand – and Hill says the players and staff are working to rectify the slight dip in form.
“[The] season has started well for us; we’re where we want to be at the top end. Our aim is to be there at Christmas and then hopefully push on. We lost a bit of consistency in our play of late but we are working hard in training to put that right.”
That loss of consistency also saw The Reds suffer an early Welsh Cup exit at the hands of fellow Division One outfit Cwmbran Celtic. Hill made no excuses for his side’s loss, but is keen to stress Llanelli have drawn a line under that defeat and are now focused on the objectives for the rest of the season.
“We didn’t deserve to win the game at Cwmbran and going out was a bitter pill to swallow. That loss will make us better; I think it’s important to take the positives out of defeats and use them to make you a better team and that’s something we’ve already done. Our focus now is on promotion and retaining the (Welsh Football) League Cup.”
The WFL Cup draw means Llanelli Town will travel to Division Two outfit AFC Llwydcoed for their quarter-final tie in the New Year; Hill expects a stiff challenge.
“Llywdcoed is a tricky place to go and they are doing great of late, but we’ll be prepared for that game when it comes round and hopefully get the result we want.”
As one of the Welsh Football League clubs to have applied for the FAW Tier 1 Licence, if Llanelli Town do go on to be crowned as champions it would see a return to the Welsh Premier League after a five-year absence. That is the goal for Hill and his squad, a status he believes is befitting of a club of Llanelli Town’s stature.
“Llanelli are the biggest club outside the WPL and should be in the top division in Wales. Unfortunately, they are not and it’s our job as a squad to get them back to where they belong.”
Nevertheless, Hill is under no illusion how big the challenge is for his team with Division One looking typically competitive this season and a number of clubs that appear capable of making a title challenge. The Reds boss sees the current top 3 clubs as the ones to beat.
“Division 1 is a tough tough league to win; so many difficult places to go and get a win, conditions around Christmas time can be tough, especially the way we want to play. I expect us, Goytre (Gwent) and Haverfordwest to be there fighting it out at the end of the season.”
These days it is difficult not to mention Llanelli Town without reference to Lee Trundle. Some outlets seem to promote Llanelli matches as ‘Trundle & Co’ and in some circles The Reds are derisorily referred to as ‘Trundle Town’.
While Trundle has been an influential presence around Stebonheath Park and an important player on the pitch for Llanelli, it would be unfair to label The Reds a one-man team. That being the case, Hill isn’t afraid to admit the enormous presence the former Swansea City striker brings to the club and how fortunate they are to have him.
“Lee’s brilliant to have around the club. He’s everything you’d expected from a top pro; he knows the game inside out so he makes it real easy for me to manage him. We have a good relationship so that helps a lot and he’s always there when I’ve got something on my mind to talk about.”
Despite being 41, Hill believes Trundle still has plenty to offer on the pitch and many more goals to come.
“Trunds probably looks after himself more than any player in this league, he does his own training throughout the week and also has regular personal strength and conditioning session to help stay fit and injury free. As long as he stays fit he’ll always score goals and he’s been a massive influence on Llanelli’s rise back to where they belong.”