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Welsh National League Premier Division: Holywell’s Haseldin breaks new ground again

Holywell line up at the start of the season. Picture: Lee Douglas

Has any manager ever won the top titles in both the Welsh Alliance League and Welsh National (Wrexham Area) League before?

Gareth Thomas (Perry) has gone extremely close.

He led Conwy Borough to the Welsh Alliance crown as part of a treble in 2017-18, while in 2005-06 his Mynydd Isa side finished top of the WNL Premier, but had nine points deducted for signing a player on second forms who was under contract at another club and Rhos Aelwyd pinched the title by a point.

However, this season the elusive third-tier double has been achieved by Holywell Town’s Johnny Haseldin.

This week’s decision to curtail the Welsh domestic football season saw the Wellmen clinch the Welsh National Premier Division championship on the points-per-game method, just edging out the impressive Rhostyllen and Cefn Albion.

That makes it a unique double for Haseldin, who guided Town to the Welsh Alliance Division One crown in the club’s 2014-15 treble-winning season.

Following their relegation from the Cymru Alliance last season after three successive fifth-place finishes, Holywell returned to tier-three, not to the Welsh Alliance as before, but this time the Welsh National League.

Despite having to make a major rebuild to the squad, Haseldin’s side drew their first two matches 0-0 and then went on a sensational 12-match winning run.

After a draw with Queen’s Park and a whipping of Chirk AAA, the undefeated Wellmen faced Cefn Albion at home for what turned out to be their final game of the campaign.

The Albion won 1-0 and went top of the table, blotting Holywell’s almost spotless copybook at the same time.

While Cefn ended the season in first place, however, Town take the title for possessing the best P-P-G ratio.

It was mighty close, though, with Rhostyllen and Albion still bang in the hunt. Unlike in some leagues/divisions, we were denied what could have been a cracking race for the championship.

Huge credit to goal machines Tom Douglas, who hit 30 league goals in his first season at Rhostyllen, and Alex Williams, who banged in 21 for Cefn Albion.

Holywell can look back on a fabulous campaign, with the signing of the season Mark Connolly, the former Bala Town and Rhyl star, truly coming up trumps with 21 goals in all competitions.

Other players, such as Dylan Allshorn, Jake Cooke and Jacob Wise, really stood out.

Holywell’s defending was remarkable. They conceded just eight league goals in 17 games and a mere 19 in 23 matches across all competitions.

Sadly, no opportunity yet for mass celebrations which means Cecil the Crocodile probably remains in someone’s garden pond.

Holywell Town – Welsh National League Premier Division record 2019-20

Johnny Haseldin (left) and Mark Connolly

Aug 20: Brymbo (h) 0-0
Aug 24: Rhos Aelwyd (a) 0-0
Aug 31: Cefn Albion (a) 5-2 (Shaun Tuck 2, James Graham, Paul Williams, Mark Connolly)
Sep 7: Plas Madoc (h) 4-0 (Shaun Tuck 2, Jacob Wise, Ben Brierly)
Sep 21: Brickfield Rangers (a) 5-0 (Jake Cooke 2, Sam Jones, James Graham pen, Ben Brierly)
Oct 12: Mold Alexandra (h) 3-1 (Mark Connolly, Shaun Tuck, Luke Edwards)
Nov 6: Saltney Town (h) 1-0 (Johnson OG)
Nov 23: Castell Alun Colts (h) 12-0 (Luke Edwards, Sam Jones 3, Mark Connolly 4, Jake Cooke, Dylan Allshorn 2, Danny Dobbins)
Nov 30: Penycae (a) 5-1 (Jake Cooke, Mark Connolly 3, Jacob Wise)
Dec 21: Brymbo (a) 4-2 (Sam Jones, Danny Dobbins, Dylan Allshorn, Jake Cooke)
Jan 4: Rhos Aelwyd (h) 6-0 (Sam Jones 2, Dylan Allshorn, Jake Cooke, Mark Connolly 2)
Jan 11: Castell Alun Colts (a) 3-0 (Luke Edwards 2, Alec Williams)
Jan 25: Llay Welfare (a) 4-0 (Jake Cooke 4)
Feb 1: FC Queen’s Park (h) 4-0 (Alec Williams 2, Luke Edwards 2)
Feb 22: FC Queen’s Park (a) 1-1 (Jake Cooke)
Mar 4: Chirk AAA (h) 5-0 (Mark Connolly, Alec Williams, Sam Jones, Dylan Allshorn, Mark Winslade)
Mar 7: Cefn Albion (h) 0-1
Played 17 Won 13 Drawn 3 Lost 1 Goals For 62 Goals Conceded 8

Other Welsh National League final positions

Division One: champions – Hawarden Rangers; runners-up – Cefn Mawr Rangers
Reserves Division: champions – Mold Alexandra; runners-up – Buckley Town
Reserves and Colts Division: champions – Connah’s Quay Nomads; runners-up – Airbus

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