Countdown to 2019-20: Welsh Alliance League

Can Llandudno Amateurs make a big impact on arrival in the Welsh Alliance?

Division One

Like with the JD Cymru North, there is no obvious favourite for the Welsh Alliance Division One title, but there are many very viable contenders.

How about last season’s runners-up Bodedern Athletic, who performed magnificently well to finish so high on their return to Division One.

There have been a few comings and goings at Cae Ty Cristion, arrivals including last season’s Gwynedd League Player of the Year and top goalscorer Dean Redmond, who is very keen to prove he belongs at a higher level.

Callum Thomas, Jamie Jones, Tom Wood, centre-half Callum Hughes and Myles Jones are other new faces who will strengthen Ricky Williams’ squad.

It would be no surprise to see Boded go one better than last season.

Teams who come up from Division Two very often impress on debut in Division One – think of Bodedern, Greenfield, Prestatyn Sports and Llandudno Albion in recent years.

So it would be far from a shock if Glan Conwy make their mark in 2019-20.

The villagers have been a Division One outfit for most of their Welsh Alliance life anyway, and keeping hold of goal machine Jordan Phillips, in the face of higher league interest, is a big plus for Howard Vaughan’s hopefuls.

Blaenau Amateurs also look capable of causing a stir or two on arrival in the top division.

The summer signing of the prolific Meilir Williams, Division One’s top marksman with Penrhyndeudraeth last term, signals the Quarrymen’s intention to be a force.

Last season saw Greenfield and Llanrug United achieve top-five places, and both can be prominent again.

Mark Jat has returned as manager to Eithin Duon, where he has experienced success before, and his capture of Alan Mark Owen, Marvin Pritchard and Kevin Lloyd, stars in Llangefni Town’s title-winning squad last term, could prove significant.

Llandudno Albion’s progression continued last season in finishing third. I can see them really pushing on this time around and perhaps being involved in the title picture.

They have looked dynamic at times this summer; the additions of Jamie Moorhouse and Jack Williams can only boost the squad, and striker Peter Jones, who really came to the fore in the last campaign, finishing second-highest scorer in Division One, is definitely one to watch.

How will Denbigh Town readjust to life in tier three? They are traditionally strong at this level, possess real attacking quality in the likes of Mark Roberts, Jake Walker and Kristian Pierce, but what about the strength in depth?

I don’t make my title prediction with massive assurance, but I’m going for Holyhead Hotspur, who were relegated from the Cymru Alliance last season.

It concerns me a little that Hotspur have lost classy players such as Mel McGinness and John Littlemore, but as they’ve already shown in pre-season there remains so much goals potential within the ranks with Chris Moore, Robert Jones and Craig Moore on the prowl, and midfield net-finders like Dewi Thomas and Sam Ashworth on call.

Darren Garmey’s side also have some great talent rising up from the reserves, some of whom could really impact on Division One this season.

There is a feelgood factor on Ynys Mon after the Inter-Island Games success and Hotspur can carry this on.

Definitely scope for one or two other surprise packages in there, but I definitely feel the champions will come from one of the clubs mentioned above.

Division One (16 teams)
Blaenau Amateurs
Bodedern Athletic
Denbigh Town
Glan Conwy
Holyhead Hotspur
Llandudno Albion
Llandyrnog Utd
Llanrug Utd
Llanrwst Utd
Mynydd Llandegai
Nantlle Vale
Prestatyn Sports
St Asaph City

Division Two

The battle for supremacy in Division Two could be every bit as thrilling as the level above.

Holyhead Town, who fell away badly last term, have regrouped, captured some good new players and could easily figure in the title race.

After storming to the Anglesey League and Gwynedd League titles back-to-back in their first two comeback seasons, the train slipped off the tracks in 2018-19 at tier four, but it could be full steam ahead this time around for the Harbourmen.

A new management team of Nathan Owen and Derek Thomas have been appointed, with fresh faces on the playing side including quality operators Liam Williams, Bryn Roberts and Casey Williams.

Gwalchmai, promoted as Gwynedd League runners-up, won’t come in to make up the numbers either, Liam Ewing and Paul Rowlands among their impressive early recruits secured by player-manager Craig Evans.

Pwllheli ended up fourth last season, but due to an enforced late start were always playing catch-up fixtures-wise and it took its toll in the closing stages of the campaign.

With ex-Porthmadog boss Craig Papirnyk joining Ben Ogilvy at the helm, Pwll have gained some true tactical nous and can be right up there in 2019/20.

Y Felinheli are always a team to respect under Euron Davies. It’s been quiet on the news front from Cae Seilo over the summer, but with Iwan Owen and Gruff John to bang in the goals, one can expect the team to be there or thereabouts.

One team I like the look of are Gaerwen. They’ve added the experienced Sean Brett, who led Menai Bridge Tigers to the Gwynedd League title last season, to the management team and made quite a statement by signing midfield ace Sean Pritchard from Llangefni Town.

Chris Bennett, who missed much of last season through injury, can also be a major player in the centre of the park. Expect top three or four at least for the men from Lon Groes.

Llannefydd, third last season under Gwyndaf Pritchard and just four points behind the title winners, look the ‘safe’ title prediction, particularly armed with some good summer signings, but nothing is ever guaranteed in football.

Aberffraw, fifth in 2018-19, cannot be counted out either and Kinmel Bay are always capable of producing teams which challenge for honours.

I’m going totally against the grain, though, and tipping newly-promoted Llandudno Amateurs to be crowned champions.

A wild choice? Well, they have won Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Division One and Premier Division titles back-to-back.

Yes, tier four will be harder, but that didn’t stop Llandudno Albion winning Division Two at the first attempt in 2015/16.

The Amateurs, like the Albion did, have built a strong squad of local talent who will run through brick walls for their manager Sandy Malone.

I admit it’s an ambitious prediction, but the Amateurs have strengthened during the summer and kept many of their finest players from last season.

Division Two (15)
Amlwch Town
Barmouth & Dyffryn
Holyhead Town
Kinmel Bay
Llandudno Amateurs
Llandudno Junction
Mochdre Sports
Penmaenmawr Phoenix
Y Felinheli

Opening fixtures

Friday, August 9

Division Two (7.45pm)
Llandudno Amateurs v Gwalchmai

Saturday, August 10

Division One (2.30pm)
Blaenau Amateurs v Llandyrnog Utd
Denbigh Town v Mynydd Llandegai
Greenfield v Bodedern Athletic
Llanberis v Glan Conwy
Llandudno Albion v Penrhyndeudraeth
Nantlle Vale v St Asaph City
Prestatyn Sports v Holyhead Hotspur

Division Two (2.30pm)
Amlwch Town v Kinmel Bay
Gaerwen v Y Felinheli
Llandudno Junction v Pentraeth
Llannefydd v Barmouth & Dyffryn
Penmaenmawr Phoenix v Holyhead Town
Pwllheli v Aberffraw

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