STM Sports in need of luck this season says Gardiner after agonising promotion miss
STM Sports are things to go in their way this campaign says manager Dale Gardiner, as they gear up for the new Welsh League season
They narrowly missed out on promotion, having finished fourth in their first ever season in Division Two.
The Llanrumney-based side lost to Division Two champions Llantwit Major in their final game, allowing Ammanford to win promotion at their Recreational Ground on Saturday.
Gardiner took the role, having replaced former AFC Porth manager Gareth Morgan in January. It was a role that Gardiner didn’t plan upon taking for another two to three years.
The STM legend said: “This season my preparation is so much better and I feel a lot more focused,”
Based on last season we have to think we can challenge.
We definitely need a bit more luck on our side when it comes to things such as injuries but we’ve added to what was already a good squad last season.
I now know this season if it goes wrong, I will be the first person people will look at to blame, so I’m hoping it goes the way I want it to.”
This summer has seen a number of players swap STM for newer clubs, whilst Gardiner has been busy in bringing in their replacements.
Chris Golton has dropped down a number of divisions, to join Llanrumney United, whilst Michael Nessbert has joined Division Two rivals Bridgend Street.
In their place, comes in Nicky King, formerly of Bridgend Street and Newport City, whilst Dale Morris has also joined STM.
Business may not end there either, with more movement set to happen.
“Unfortunately, we lost our Goalkeeper Chris Golton and Michael Nezzy our centre back, but we have also recruited well in those positions in Nicky King and Dale Morris who have both been very impressive preseason.
We’ve also managed to bring in Hermon Yohanes, a young fullback who’s been brilliant since he’s arrived and more recently we have managed to sign two more excellent players in Riccardo McKenzie and Hishi Lama.
There are also a few others which I’m looking at so I’m hoping to get a few more on board in the next few weeks so its all positive at the moment.”
New players may have arrived, but perhaps the biggest boost is the return of Gardiner’s chosen front three of Ben Ahmun, Josh Graham and Lamin Conteh.
The club will also welcome back sidelined duo Curtis Scotto and Joel Queni, once they reach full fitness.
“Our squad is getting there. It seems a lot healthier than last season but that’s probably due to finishing last season with half of the squad injured.
My front three, Lamin, Josh and Ben are back fully fit and we are a different team with those boys playing.
We’ve got the potential returns of Joel Queni and Curtis Scotto who both suffered horrendous knee injuries last season.
Incredibly, Curtis was out from November and finished one goal shy from our top goalscorer, so adding his goals into our team would be massive.”
Taffs Well midfielder Joey Evans has stayed, along with David Biggs who have been on a rigorous pre-season training programme, getting into shape for the upcoming season.
Talisman Nipper Worsley and Chris Hajgato have been earmarked as potential players to star for STM Sports this season.
Asked who may challenge for the Division Two title this season, much fancied Swansea University have been considered, with praise leapt on the Division Three champions.
New boys Bridgend Street, also from Cardiff is one game that Dale Gardiner is looking forward to, with the Mission also being suggested by Gardiner as potential promotion contenders.
“I think you have to look at the sides that came up from Division Three and also the teams that came down from Division One.
Swansea University are obviously a team being talked about quite a lot and I understand they play a similar way to ourselves so that’s a game I’m looking forward to.
We also have Bridgend Street in there with us now and we have had some great games with them in the past so again, another fixture that will definitely get this area of Cardiff excited.
Division Two last season proved to be extremely exciting and I get the feeling that history could repeat itself with the new teams that have come into it this year.”
West End put STM Sports to the sword with a 4-0 win over STM, who were chasing promotion at the time, leaving Gardiner scratching his head on where his side went wrong.
They will now host the Swansea based side at home on the opening day of the season, welcoming them to Llanrumney this coming Saturday.
“Last time this fixture came around it really didn’t go well for us and I had plenty of sleepless nights afterwards.
It’s a massive game for us but we are pleased we get to start the season with a home fixture. However I don’t feel it really matters when it comes to the opposition, you have to play them all eventually.
I just think we are all itching to get the season underway now.”
(Featured Image: Mike James)