Griffiths believes Penybont can upset the odds, despite being underdogs in Barry clash
Penybont manager Rhys Griffiths believes his side are ‘clear underdogs’ ahead of his side’s JD Welsh Cup fixture against Barry Town United.
The player-manager leads his Penybont side as they host Barry this weekend in Round Three of the national cup competition, and is fully aware of the uphill battle his side faces but has full belief in his young side to threaten the JD Welsh Premier League outfit.
Griffiths’s charges have enjoyed a tremendous start to the league season, sitting second in Division One having yet to lose a game.
““I think we’re clear underdogs. Yes we’re playing well and have been winning, but if Leeds we playing Liverpool or Chelsea the latter would be expected to win. They were excellent second half in their last game against Newtown and they’ll think they can win this competition. We’ll go there with zero to lose and we carry plenty of threats that will cause the WPL team problems if we play with confidence. It’s a great tie for us to be involved in and we’ve enjoyed each of our test v WPL opposition since I arrived at the club.”
But the former Premier League ace has been impressed by this weekend’s competitors, but believes their start to this season is less surprising given how well they performed in their maiden season back in the top flight under Gavin Chesterfield.
“I’ve been impressed with them this year, but even more so last year. Their transition into the WPL has been very smooth which isn’t easy at all, and that first season was impressive. Now they’ve improved further and are still title contenders. The WPL is a better league with them in it.”
However, Griffiths heads into the game knowing his side have all the capabilities of upsetting the odds.
His side have won eight of their nine league games this season, have conceded just nine goals at an average of one a game and have scored a mighty 25 in the process.
Griffiths knows that despite their inexperience, they have proven they can be competitive against Welsh Premier League sides and will attempt to do the same again this weekend.
“It’ll be a nice test for us and may highlight some strengths and weaknesses. However it isn’t the be all and end all. We will approach the game different tactically as it’s a cup game, and regardless of how we do Friday, I have complete belief in the players at the club. The only thing lacking is a little experience as we’re a young group, but in terms of ability they are very capable of WPL football and I am aware of that already.
Griffiths knows how important the competition is given he tasted success in the tournament with Llanelli in 2011, scoring two goals in the final, as they defeated defending champions Bangor City, a memory he will never forget.
“The Welsh Cup is a special competition epitomised by the wonderful trophy for the winners.
“Our victory in the welsh cup 2011 was made more special by the group of players involved and the disappointments of previous years. I lost on pens with ptt in the semi final (2006) against Rhyl after scoring what should have been an extra time winner, only for it to be disallowed for a ‘foul’. I then scored two in 2008 final with Llanelli before getting a red (can’t complain about that one!), we went on to lose 4-2. Therefore, the final in 2011 was a great moment. I think most of the boys in that team would say the same.”
The game will also see one of Penybont’s latest recruits, James Saddler face his former club for the first time since leaving the club in the summer.
Saddler was instrumental in Barry’s rise through the divisions and in helping the club secure their status in their first season back on the top flight, and Griffiths knows how important a role he plays.
“James was an excellent servant for Barry and we’re lucky to have him with us now. I know he’ll be looking forward to the return. He’s professional in his approach and will want to help us through to the next round. He’s the classic unsung hero but everyone he’s played with will know the job he does for the team. He’ll certainly have a role to play.”
Griffiths will be hoping he can make his first appearance against his former club one Gavin Chesterfield’s men will want to forget quickly.
FEATURED IMAGE: Lewis Mitchell