What FIVE teams should have Cymru Alliance title ambitions this season?
As North Wales’ top flight prepares for another season, an assessment is needs to be carried out on who will be up there challenging for the Cymru Alliance title.
The division looks set to be as closer as ever with so many sides to choose from, making for a competitive league.
Both Airbus UK and Rhyl have come down from the Welsh Premier League after suffering relegation and with only one promotion spot up for grabs, one side may have to miss out on an immediate return.
The Wingmakers and the Lilywhites though will have to compete with the sides already in the division though and that could prove to be a tough task for both sides.
So here we go, what FIVE sides have a realistic chance of being up there come the end of the season?
It was a season to forget for the Wingmakers last season as they finished bottom of the Welsh Premier League. Andy Preece stood down on the eve of the Premier League season but that won’t be repeated this time around with Andy Thomas’ now with a full season behind him.
The objective now though will be to bounce back from relegation and put themselves in the mix come the end of the season.
For a club that was in the Europa League qualifiers three-years in a row, they will want to get back to those days and that will be the motivation for them this season.
In what was a youthful side last season, they have added much needed experience to the squad with names like Wes Baynes, Aaron Bowen, Kristian Platt and Leo Riley and with that they’ve put themselves in good stead as they come to terms with their relegation by facing it head on.
After winning the title back in the 2015/2016 season, Iwan Williams’ men will want to end their nine-year absence from Wales’ top flight.
The club have put everything in place off the pitch to prepare themselves for Premier League football by passing the Football Association of Wales’ through licencing checks.
On the pitch, you could just say the same after the players they’ve added just that after wrapping up their transfer business early with signings like Rhys Roberts and Mark Griffiths from Holyhead and Caersws respectively as well as bringing experienced midfielder Gareth Evans to the club from Llandudno.
Add to that the commitment of Danny Brookwell and Jamie Breese and you’ve got yourself some team going into the new season.
The Welsh Cup semi-finalist have winning pedigree allready in their squad after winning the Cymru Alliance Cup back in May and with how they challenged eventual Welsh Cup winners Bala Town, that can be used as a yard stick for the coming season.
As the Lilywhites receivd a reprieve in the 2015/2016 season, the Lilywhites would continue their football in the Welsh Premier League but the following season, it would be the same fate that they had last season, the club would finish in the dreaded relegation spots.
But the Rhyl crowd remained as they finished fourth in the attendance tables and that Rhyl crowd may play a big part in Niall McGuiness’ quest for promotion.
The A-Licence coach has added the necessary ingredients to the squad in bringing back Tom Rowlands and Mark Connolly who will compliment a relatively young squad.
Just under four years ago, there was a Rhyl side that won the title by going the whole season unbeaten under then manager Greg Strong when the club were last in the second tier of Welsh football.
Now with the quality in the division, perhaps that could be a bit more of a dream than it is a reality but that’s not to say that they can’t compete the ethos of that season by becoming a strong outfit.
Whilst the first team were celebrating their glory, their now manager Niall McGuiness was making his way as a key component of the Rhyl academy by preparing them for the future but now the demand will be promotion at senior level and that is something the whole club will be fighting for.
When it was announced that the Welsh Premier League were to become a 12 team league, the Port were one of the unlucky six that would have to make way as the league began a new era.
The season before they finished 12 points above their Gwynedd rivals Caernafon Town but they failed to improve and suffered relegation.
For the years that they’ve been in the second tier of Welsh football, playing in North Wales’ top division they’ve had recent finishes of 8th, 4th, 9th, 6th, 10th and 4th.
As one of the League of Wales’ founding teams, they’ll be eager to get back there after seeing the impact another Gwynedd club has made in Bala Town.
Statistically Porthmadog are one of the most supported clubs with a average of 216 fans attending of their home games and with paying fans comes the chance to reinvest in to the squad.
They’ve made the most of Conwy Borough’s relegation by bringing in forward Joe Chaplin who is capable of scoring goals at this level.
What should be applauded though is how Porthmadog have looked at younger players who are seeking a first team opportunity after playing in successful youth sides and in that have given them a platform to showcase their worth.
Both Ifan Emlyn Jones and Leon Doran have both signed from Premier League sides Bangor City and Connah’s Quay Nomads and now under the watch of Craig Papyrnik, these players could develop into household names.
If they can follow in the foot steps of Sion Bradley who signed from Bangor City on loan in January, then they’ll be on the right track. The former Citizens forward scored 4 goals in his 10 games that he played for the club last season and was quite an inventive player, adding many assists to his name.
Rhyl, Caernarfon and Airbus UK will all be ranked above Porthmadog in the likelihood of promotion but who’s to say that the Port won’t upset the apple cart.
Flint Town United
This summer Flint made a statement of intent by appointing former Everton coach Andy Holden as their new First Team manager.
The Flintshire side had an impressive season last year by finishing in the top six and the appointment of Holden could be the chance for the club to bridge the gap between the chasing pack.
He’s a familiar face to those involved but now he has been appointed in an official capacity after helping out with a few training sessions.
With experienced striker Lee Healey on board after a spell with Aberystwyth Town as well as stefan Halewood joining the Holden revolution then they could be one team that could go about their business quietly but effectively being one of the sides to beat.
(Featured Image: Paul Evans of Oval Ways)