Andy Morrison has already performed marvels in his five seasons as manager of Connah’s Quay Nomads – but can he go on to win the ultimate prize?
Already, the former Manchester City defender has led the Deesiders to Welsh Cup and League Cup success, as well as reaching the Scottish Challenge Cup Final and recording some amazing results in Europe.
And under his managership, Nomads have never finished outside of the Cymru Premier top-four.
Now, with eight rounds of matches to go in the 2019/20 season, the Quay find themselves top of the Premier, one point ahead of champions The New Saints with a crunch encounter to come against the title holders at Deeside Stadium tomorrow.
A victory for Morrison’s men over the full-timers, who are aiming for a ninth title on the bounce, really would put them in the driving seat.
Nomads media officer Nik Mesney asked the manager whether tomorrow night’s top-of-the-table tussle is just another game?
“It’s another 3 points. For me to say that it’s just another game would be just pointing out the obvious cliches – because it isn’t, it’s a top of the table clash,” said Morrison.
“We have to go about it in the same way that we have done the last couple of months. – probably last three months at home – where we’ve won nine, drawn one, scored 27 and conceded 7.
“We’re in a phenomenal run of form at home, we’re playing really well. I don’t need to sell anything to the players about having belief because it’s there, the stats speak for themselves.
“We should be going into it buoyant. We’re playing incredibly well. If the boys produce the quality and the standards they have done over the past couple of months, we’ll be fine come Friday night.”
TNS have not started the second phase of the season in their usual ruthless manner, losing at home to bogey side Newtown and taking a point at Bala last weekend.
Morrison added: “Yes we’re all surprised that Newtown beat them, and they dropped points last week. Sometimes you look at it and you’re very surprised that we are a point clear.
“I go back now to Craig Harrison’s last year in charge of the club – they were 25 points clear at this stage of the season. They’d won the League Cup, were in the semi-finals of the Irn-Bru (Scottish Challenge Cup) and they had the Welsh Cup final coming up.
“For it to decline the way it has since then, I’m surprised as anyone, but they’re still the champions, they’re still the team we’re all trying to get to.”
Despite TNS having had the better of things overall since Morrison joined Quay as manager, the Deesiders have managed to record at least one win over Saints every season they have played them (not many clubs can claim that) – except the current one.
Factfile – Nomads v Saints under Morrison’s managership
Jan 16, 2016 – Nomads 2 TNS 0 (WPL)
A great day for Nomads as not only did a Callum Morris penalty and Les Davies goal secure three points, the win guaranteed the Quay a Championship Conference place for the first time.
Jan 29, 2016 – TNS 0 Nomads 0 (WPL)
Quay proved their victory at Deeside Stadium wasn’t a fluke as they gritted out a scoreless draw at Park Hall.
Mar 29, 2016 – Nomads 2 TNS 1 (WPL)
Goals from Les Davies and Callum Morris made it six points out of six at home for Nomads against the champions.
Despite having Danny Harrison sent off in the 68th minute, the hosts held on for victory.
Apr 2, 2016 – TNS 5 Nomads 0 (Welsh Cup semi-final)
Saints finally put one over on Nomads with an emphatic Welsh Cup win, Scott Quigley netting a hat-trick.
Oct 30, 2016 – TNS 3 Nomads 0 (WPL)
First league defeat of the season for Nomads, who had got off to a flyer.
Nov 22, 2016 – Nomads 0 TNS 1 (League Cup semi-final)
Scott Quigley’s deflected goal settled this tie, which was completed at the second attempt with the first game abandoned due to fog at 0-0.
Dec 17, 2016 – Nomads 0 TNS 3 (WPL)
First home loss of the season for Morrison’s men.
Mar 21, 2017 – Nomads 2 TNS 1 (WPL)
James Jones put Saints in front, but Nomads gained sweet revenge for three earlier defeats that season when goals by John Disney and super sub Declan Poole sealed a 2-1 win.
Apr 1, 2017 – Nomads 0 TNS 3 (Welsh Cup semi-final)
Not to be for Nomads as goals from Adrian Cieslewicz, Aeron Edwards and Jamie Mullen sent Saints into the final.
Apr 7, 2017 – TNS 1 Nomads 0 (WPL)
TNS made it five wins out of six over Nomads that season thanks to a Greg Draper strike.
Oct 10, 2017 – Nomads 2 TNS 2 (WPL)
Thrilling draw at the Deeside, Jay Owen and a Callum Morris spot-kick earning the hosts a draw, Draper with both for the visitors.
Nov 20, 2017 – TNS 1 Nomads 0 (League Cup semi-final)
Ryan Brobbel’s goal clinched a tight semi.
Dec 19, 2017 – TNS 3 Nomads 0 (WPL)
Jamie Mullan, Ryan Brobbel and Jon Routledge guided the hosts to victory.
Feb 24, 2018 – Nomads 0 TNS 1 (WPL)
Despite a late red card for TNS keeper Paul Harrison, the visitors held on to win thanks to a Jon Routledge net-finder.
Mar 6, 2018 – Nomads 2 TNS 1 (Welsh Cup)
What a day for Nomads! Their first Welsh Cup win over TNS in 10 years.
Aeron Edwards edged Saints in front, but Michael Bakare and a Morris penalty turned the tables for Quay, who went on to win the cup.
Apr 20, 2018 – TNS 3 Nomads 1 (WPL)
Bakare scored first for Nomads, but Draper (2) and Ryan Pryce ensured the points ended up with the champions.
Aug 19, 2018 – Nomads 1 TNS 0 (WPL)
Andrew Owens grabbed the all-important goal to deliver three points for the Deesiders.
Oct 20, 2018 – TNS 3 Nomads 0 (WPL)
Aeron Edwards (2) and Blaine Hudson made sure Saints finished victorious.
Mar 9, 2019 – Nomads 0 TNS 2 (WPL)
Aeron Edwards and Ryan Brobbel found the net in this away success.
Apr 26, 2019 – TNS 1 Nomads 0 (WPL)
A Greg Draper penalty decided a tight contest.
May 5, 2019 – Nomads 0 TNS 3 (Welsh Cup final)
There was to be no repeat Welsh Cup triumph for Nomads, Draper and Brobbel (2) clinching the spoils for Scott Ruscoe’s men.
Nov 1, 2019 – Nomads 1 TNS 1 (WPL)
Quay set a new club record of 13 league games unbeaten with this result.
Dean Ebbe put Saints ahead, but Michael Wilde grabbed a late equaliser.
Jan 18, 2020 – TNS 2 Nomads 1 (WPL)
Michael Wilde put Nomads in front, but an own goal and Simon Spender effort turned potential defeat into another win for Saints.
Andy Morrison’s record as Nomads manager v The New Saints
League: Played 17 Won 4 Drawn 3 Lost 10 Goals For 12 Goals Against 27
Cup: Played 6 Won 1 Lost 5 Goals For 2 Goals Against 14
Total record: Played 23 Won 5 Drawn 3 Lost 15 GF 14 GA 41.
Andy Morrison – landmarks as Connah’s Quay Nomads manager
November 2, 2015
Took over as first-team manager with Nomads bottom of Welsh Premier
November 7, 2015
First game in charge delivers a 4-0 league win over Carmarthen Town
Morrison guides Nomads up to fourth by end of season and into Europe for first time via play-offs
Nomads win first-ever European tie, beating Stabæk of Norway with a 1-0 away victory following a 0-0 home draw. The result marked the first time in 24 years and 214 games that a Welsh side involved in European competition had kept two clean sheets across the two legs of a European tie.
Quay finish a highest-ever second place in Welsh Premier.
Nomads again achieved surprise success in the UEFA Europa League as they defeated Finnish side, HJK Helsinki 1-0 at Bangor City Stadium before losing out 3–1 on aggregate.
May 7, 2018
Club wins the Welsh Cup for the first time in its history under the guise of Connah’s Quay Nomads, beating Aberystwyth Town 4-1 in the final.
Feb 16, 2019
Morrison’s heroes make history yet again as they beat Edinburgh City 5–4 on penalties in the Scottish Challenge Cup semis and became the first non-Scottish side to reach the final. In the final they lead Ross County 1-0, but eventually lose 3-1.
Another stunning achievement as Nomads defeat SPL side Kilmarnock 3-2 over two legs in the Europa League. After losing the home game 2-1 at Rhyl, the Quay then triumph 2-0 at Rugby Park.
Feb 1, 2020
Connah’s Quay end a 24-year wait for league cup success as they lift the Nathaniel MG Trophy with a 3-0 win in the final over underdogs STM Sports.
Andy Morrison’s up-to-date match record as Nomads manager (prior to WPL game v TNS 21/2/2020)
P 138 W 78 D 29 L 31 GF 243 GA 123
P 56 W 37 D 1 L 18 GF 103 GA 60
All competitive matches
P 194 W 115 D 30 L 49 GF 346 GA 183