FIVE young stars of Welsh Football League to keep an eye out for this season

With a number of players moving to Welsh Premier League from the Welsh Football League over the last few years, South Wales has proved a good platform to nurture young talent.

Cardiff Metropolitan University have signed Llantwit Major forward Sam Snaith, having spent two seasons with Karl Lewis’ side.

Former Caerau Ely midfielder Callum Sainty joined Barry Town United and is now playing football in the sixth tier of English football for non-league giants Hereford. The Linnets needed a replacement so looked to Taffs Well, to sign Marcus Jones.

The Welsh Football League continues to have young stars who have excelled at this level and have gone on to a higher level.

But who’s currently in the Welsh League and worth keeping an eye out for this season?

Alaric Jones – Defender – Haverfordwest County – 17 

Alaric Jones, a Wales U18 Academy international who was entrusted with the captains armband out in Gibraltar is the pick of the bunch, with plenty of time on his side.

At the age of just 17, Jones made 18 appearances for the Bluebirds last season, finishing 2nd in the league with the joint second best defence.

Jones operated as a left-back during the season and became one of the leagues youngest goal scorers, when he scored in Haverfordwest’s 2-0 win away at Ton Pentre.

A Welsh Schools international also, Jones has made a number of Welsh select squads, playing alongside now Welsh Premier League forward Sam Snaith.

In an area which is hard to recruit players, given that there aren’t many Welsh League teams close to them, Haverfordwest have made the most of their youth academy and have unearthed a gem in Alaric.

 

Joel Queni – Defender/Midfielder – STM Sports – 21

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The former AFC North defender is currently out with a nasty injury sustained against Llantwit Major in their promotion-chasing match, but Queni will come back better than ever when he returns.

Having begun his career in Portugal from the age of seven with AMSAC in Lisbon, Joel Queni has established himself already in two Welsh League sides.

He suffered a setback however when he broke his leg, before trials with Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.

A move to South Wales though came seven years later after beginning his footballing career. He started with Johnstown FC, where he won the U16 West Wales Cup.

The Welsh Cup victory grabbed the attention of Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town, where Queni played for a season.

A move to the capital happened though and it was AFC Rumney Juniors U18’s that the 21-year-old really had his breakthrough at senior level football. In the season and a half he spent with the Cardiff & District League side, he won the League Cup and finished second.

The performances with Rumney, saw Gareth Morgan, an experienced Welsh League manager sign him up to AC Porth, where he was awarded Young Player of the Season, as Porth finished fifth in Division Two of the Welsh League.

Queni followed Morgan to STM Sports in the summer and aligned himself as part of a strong back line, which narrowly missed out on promotion. The blessing, however, was winning the Supporters Player of the Year award. He can operate as both a centre-back and a central defensive midfielder.

Thomas Walters – Forward – Goytre United – 21  

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This young forward was on trial with boyhood club Cardiff City last season, playing a part in three games with the development side.

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A move to the Bluebirds didn’t materialise, but he continued his form with Lee John’s Goytre United last season.

The prolific forward actually began his career for Bettws at the tender age of 16, but still contributed with three goals.

The season after he was deployed as a winger and his goals return tripled, with 12 goals to his name. In the end, he scored 30 goals in his third season with the club.

A move to Afan Lido didn’t work out as planned for Walters and it could have very nearly been the end for the forward, contemplating leaving the game to follow Cardiff City.

Gareth Darks, however, changed his mind and the 21-year-old had his next club, Caerau. This is where Walters really caught the eye, scoring 30 goals for Caerau.

However, it wasn’t enough overall for his side, missing out on promotion to Division Two. He was named in the fans choice Welsh Football League ‘Team of the Season’ in the 2016/2017 though.

A big move came, as he joined Goytre United and his knack for goals followed him to a higher division, scoring 22 goals. A versatile-attacker who will cause problems once again in this campaign.

 

Thomas Neville  – Forward – Trethomas Bluebirds – 21 

Neville began his career at Pentyrch Rangers, just west of Cardiff, for the youth level of his career, but he went on to play for the first team, scoring 35+ goals in his last two seasons with the club.

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Neville had limited opportunities when Caerphilly Athletic came knocking, but Welsh League side Aberdare Town took a punt on him, but history repeated itself, with a lack of first team appearances. However, when Trethomas Bluebirds went into their second season, manager Andrew Diggle approached the then 20-year-old to join the Bluebirds last season

It was a debut to remember for the Bluebirds, he helped them on their way to a 5-0 victory over Ynysygerwn, scoring all FIVE goals. In a stellar season, he scored 23 goals for the Bluebirds, finishing top goal scorer and the Bluebirds Player of the Year.

His form has been continued into the next season, scoring in every pre-season game so far.

If Trethomas Bluebirds are to challenge this season, Tom Neville is going to the lynchpin in that squad.

Gavin Jones – Winger – Britton Ferry Llansawel – 19

Youngster Gavin Jones was one of Ammanford’s key players in their promotion to Division One. He has since moved to Briton Ferry Llansawel, as they assemble a squad capable of competing towards the higher end of the table.

He has excelled in pre-season, scoring in Briton Ferry’s 4-1 win over Ynysygerwn to win the Malcolm Judd Memorial Trophy, as well as assisting Lee Bevan for a winner against Merthyr Town.

The tricky attacker netted 19 goals and tallied three assists last season. A vast improvement to his ten games in the season before, scoring three times and picking up just the one assist.

Jones, like fellow nominee Alaric Jones has been involved in the Welsh Colleges squad, which has been a platform for many young players, who have been brought in to the Welsh League scene.

(Featured Image: Jordan Harris)

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