Risca United boss Simon Berry has ambitions of a Division One return

Risca United first team manager Simon Berry says he is eyeing a return to Division One, following their relegation last season.

The Cuckoos and Caldicot Town were the two unfortunate sides to suffer relegation last season but now the ambition is to get back to the second tier and become a usual outfit in the division.

With some relegation’s, a lot of changes are made to the playing staff as players moving on to pastures new but this season, that is allowing a more settled squad after seeing first team manager Paul Michael depart for English non-league side Cinderford Town.

We have ambition to return to Welsh League Division One and are building the club to be able to stay in that division.

This season we have seen a lot of changes with regards to players and it’s about getting a settled squad this season. There a lot of good sides in Division Two and I can’t see any easy games in this league with most sides capable of beating each other. It’s going to be a very competitive season.

And last week they began the season with a 2-1 victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Aberdare Town in what was a competitive opener between the two sides.

“I was very pleased with our result last week against Aberdare who are going to be a very competitive team in this division. I was pleased with our shape and how good we looked without the ball. It was good to see how many chances we created during the game.

We had seven players in the starting lineup making their debuts for the club so also think we will get better the more they play together.”

And one of those making their debut was Ashley Johnson who scored in the club’s victory last week and has described him as a revelation to his side.

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Young attacker Brad Battle also got on the score sheet after spending time in the Gwent County League with RTB Ebbw Vale but is now back at home with Risca.

“Ashley Johnson has signed from local club Caerleon and has been a revelation since joining. He is quick and very direct. Ashley’s work ethic is excellent which enables his to get in the right positions more often than not.

I can see Ashley getting better as the season goes on. Brad has been with the club 12 months and was a great young prospect scoring goals at Gwent county and Welsh youth.

This season Brad has come back looking sharp and created both goals for us on the night and was a massive positive for us and will be a major part of our team. Dan Battle scored the first goal from the penalty spot after good work from Brad.

Dan has been back at the club after a short spell with his old club RTB Ebbw Vale and has brought us that extra bit of quality across the park.”

In midweek, many sides played in the Welsh Football League Cup but Risca were given a bye into the next round, meaning that Risca could focus on training rather than midweek action and Berry is happy that is the case.

“We have been happy there has been no midweek fixture as it has given us the opportunity to train and prepare for the weekends fixture and another chance for the players to get together. We played a lot of preseason games so this week has been a welcome break from competitive action.”

Both Aberbargoed Buds and Risca United played at Risca’s home of the Ystrad Mynach 3G pitch but have since moved back to their home the Recreation Ground and the Cuckoos boss sees this as some what of a rivalry, given the ex players on both sides.

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With Risca used to their 3G pitch, he says there will be no difference in how they set up to face Aberbargoed, despite the change from an authentic 3G pitch to a grass surface. 

“We do see this game as a bit of a rivalry as we are very close in location. We also have a few ex players playing for Aberbargoed. We had some excellent games year before last in Division 1 and Saturday will be another tough test.

In preparation for Saturday we are not necessary going to change the way we play or lineup as I believe we are already setup to play on different surfaces. We have trained this week on grass to prepare for Saturdays game but prepared in the same way.”

And if Risca United are to get back in Division One, there is one player that could make that difference in Dwaine Bailey.

Bailey featured in the Welsh Premier League for Carmarthen Town and played in their play-off semi final defeat to Cardiff Metropolitan University but has now dropped down two divisions to join the revolution at Risca.

“Dwaine has been an excellent signing and actually signed for us 2/3 weeks ago after I met with him.

Dwaine is a local lad from Newport and living in Newport myself we already knew each other. Dwaine has come into the club and added vital experience having played at a higher level. He seems to make the right decisions and has added massively to our defensive unit. Dwaine has settled into the team working hard on and off the pitch.”

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