THERE’S no place like home and that’s certainly the case for Penrhyncoch based Matthew Bishop.
The new manager of Aberystwyth Town returns to Cardigan Bay after a successful playing and coaching career away from his home county. Although Bish pulled on the Aber Black and Green eight times, this opportunity represents the first time he has spend significant time at Park Avenue.
“I’m excited! I’m looking forward to the new challenge!
“It’s great to be very much working at home! Almost my whole footballing career and my coaching career has been down south or across the border.
“It’s always been my home town club. I had a very short spell as a player but I certainly came down there as a youngster, watching them win the league and watching them in Europe.”
After last season’s 8th place finish, Aber will be hoping to go one better and hit the Top 6 next season. But for now, Bishop is only setting short term goals.
“The challenge is first getting the team together and gelling that team. We want to be competitive and take every game seriously, including the Cup games and let’s see where it takes us. If we adopt that attitude you never know.
“It’s going to be tough because of where we are geographically. But we’ve got unbelievable contacts and it’s our job to get the right players in so that we can move forward as a football club.”
Bishop joins Wayne Jones on the management side with the former Haverfordwest County manager assuming the role of second in command. The duo have already been busy in the seven days since the official announcement.
“We’re already busy and have been for the past week or so. I’m speaking to ‘Wolvesy’ two or three times a day already about things, players and what we can do. We’re looking to bring some fresh faces into the squad and freshen things up a bit so that we can put a team that’s competitive on the pitch.”
“Ultimately, our priority, Wayne and I, is to come in to reinvigorate the squad and look forward to the new campaign. We want a team that’s fit and a team that’ll work hard. We want to play and get the ball down. We’ve got the new 3G pitch coming in which will help spread the play about.
With some of last year’s squad leaving Park Avenue for pastures new, Bishop and Wolvesy have the task on their hands of reassembling a squad before the first match day in August.
“It’s about looking for the best value for the money. You want good players at a football club. You want players that are hungry, you want players that are willing to work hard and want to win things. It’s about getting a side together that’ll be competitive.
“If you’ve got players that are hard working, willing to sacrifice, add that with a bit of talent and you can get some success out of it and that’s what we want. We’re looking to add some legs and we want to give it a go.
“It will be tough as some of the big boys are spending big money. But we want to assemble a squad that’ll be competitive, give it a go and entertain at the same time.”
Bishop joins the Seasiders after coaching spells with Aldershot, Newport and most recently Hereford where he was part of the management side that won an incredible three trophies in their maiden year since their phoenix club rose from the demise of the old Hereford United in the High Courts and Bish was quick to praise his former employers.
“I had a phone call from Peter [Beadle], our paths had crossed when I was at Newport, he was on an A license course that I was directing. We hit it off and kept in touch throughout the year so when the phone call came from him, especially from a club like Hereford with the history and tradition, it was a very quick decision.
“It was a unique year! When I arrived, the club had just reformed, we didn’t have a single player signed on. We won the league, we won two cups and it was unfortunate, we went to Wembley and on the day we didn’t quite get there.
“But taking 21,000 fans to Wembley will remain a special day. It’s put the club back on the map and it was always going to be difficult leaving there. Having the opportunity to come back home and make a difference.“
Aber Town’s brand new 3G pitch will herald a new era for the club. For the first time, the opportunity to play on Park Avenue will be available to all. The all weather surface will provide a stimulus for the community and those links are something that Bishop is keen to nurture and use.
“It’s going to be brilliant for the Town, club and the community. We want a team that’ll entertain so that people will come down and enjoy what they see.
“One of the key things we have to do as a football club is reengage ourselves back in the community. We’ve got to work closer with our local clubs. Look at Penrhyncoch! Gari, Freddie and Bari have done an unbelievable job at Penrhyncoch.
“Not only them, we need to get the likes of Bow Street, Cardigan and many more on board because we want the best players playing for Aberystwyth Town.
“We’re only going to do that if we have good relationships and it works both ways. We want the best footballers playing football so we’d like to send some of ours out to the Cymru Alliance because there’s no better experience than actually playing competitive football. Not only that but getting used to the travelling and the competitive element of football.”
But for now, Bishop is excited and relishing the opportunity to cut his managerial teeth in the league with his hometown club.
“I’m just delighted to be given an opportunity to manage a big club in the Welsh Premier League It’s lovely to be back in the Town and I’m looking forward to exciting times ahead.”
Aber settle for a point in entertaining draw
IN the driving wind and rain at the eye of Storm Callum well over 200 hardy souls turned out for another exciting evening of JD Welsh Premier League football at Park Avenue on Friday night (Oct 12), and they were rewarded with an engrossing game.
With defences on top neither side did quite enough to make the breakthrough, though the hosts did end up numerically on top following Noah Edwards’ late red card.
Declan Walker, who had moved to right wing for this game, made the most of the extra space and fired an early howitzer wide.
With Aber’s Ryan Wollacott and Allan Goodall excelling at the back against the burly Jamie Breese, the visitors were creating chances and Matthew Jones cleared one goalbound effort off the line.
Danny Brookwell’s right footed shot was easy for Terry McCormick in Aber’s goal, then at the other end the superb Paolo Mendes curled in a fantastic ball to Ash Ruane, who fell in the box before pulling the trigger. Aber’s penalty cries however were in vain.
Breese and Brookwell had further half chances saved, then Rio Ahmadi for hit the side netting at the other end. Walker flashed a shot past the post and Ruane had a low effort parried in Aber’s late rally but both defences were on top in a high quality first half and the teams went in at 0-0.
Into the second half and the chances kept coming. Ryan Edwards, who was dancing down the wing all night had Town’s first effort, and then Goodall made the tackle of the night, a real goal saver to deny Breese who was through and seemed certain to score.
A nice move from Aber saw Mendes burst through the middle but his shot skewed wide, before McCormick was again called into action to superbly tip over Brookwell’s shot from the left side.
Walker saw another attempt off target, and then Ruane, who had been terrorising Ryan Williams all night, finally got goal side, but saw his goalbound effort go narrowly wide.
Walker tested Alex Ramsey in Caernarfon’s goal with a free kick before Gareth Evans hot the post with a curling effort from inside the area.
In the driving rain the chances kept coming with Ryan Edwards and Mendes the next to shoot in vain, and then with nine minutes to go Caernarfon’s Noah Edwards was show a straight red card for an ugly lunge at Declan Walker.
The hosts dominated the last ten minutes with sub Joe Phillips twice denied by Ramsey, but in truth the draw was a fair result and both sets of players should feel proud having put on a good evening’s entertainment in awful conditions.
The point takes Aber back up into eighth place and Nev Powell’s side now have two away games to try and kick on if they are to make a challenge for the top six, at Llandudno on Saturday (Oct 20, ko 2.30pm), and Llanelli on Friday, October 26 (ko 7.45pm).
Dominant Aber beat Pembroke in Plate
ABERYSTWYTH went through to the second round of the WRU Bowl on Saturday (Sept 29) as they beat Pembroke 50-5.
Last season’s Bowl runners-up Pembroke were unable to field a full strength side however with a number of first team players injured or unavailable.
Although the score suggests a very one-sided match, Pembroke deserve credit for challenging and testing the visitors from the start to the final whistle and their effort deserved more than the five points they scored.
With a few enforced changes it took a while for Aber to settle down, but after an evenly contested opening ten minutes Sam Hesden drove downfield and offloaded to Dorian Jones. He was stopped and from the resulting ruck the ball was passed out along the backs. Llyr Thomas came into the line from full-back to create an overlap for winger Jack Rees to race over for a try that was very well converted by Steff Rees.
Pembroke hit back immediately and from a lineout near the Aber line they caught and drove over to open their account with Dom Colman credited with the try. The conversion was missed but at 5-7 ahead Aber had to work hard as the hosts won and retained possession very well and ran fiercely at the Aber defence. When Aber won the ball they used their backs intelligently and only a dropped pass prevented winger Matthew Wright from racing away to score.
The visitors worked their way upfield and after impressive carrying, supporting and offloading – a welcome feature of their game throughout the afternoon – skipper Arwel Lloyd burst on to a pass to cross for a try to put Aber 5-12 ahead.
Aber’s next try was a beauty. Scrum-half Griff Jones, making a welcome return to Aber colours, dummied and broke from a ruck near the half-way line, he raced upfield and passed to Matthew Hughes in support. He then ran with Hughes for the return pass to score a lovely try which Steff Rees converted to close the first half at 5-19.
The opening ten minutes of the second half was very evenly fought, but Aber’s tackling throughout the match was impressive. They put in a high kick downfield but the catcher’s pass was dropped. Jack Rees pounced to scoop up the ball and race over for his second try of the afternoon. Steff Rees put in a fine conversion and the visitors moved up to 5-26.
A good break by Matthew Wright then took Aber deep into the Pembroke half. When he was stopped, Griff Jones fed the rampaging Arwel Lloyd who ran through a number of tackles before offloading for James Plumbridge to feed try scorer Matthew Hughes.
At 5-31 Aber were comfortable and substitutions were made with no detriment at all to the team’s performance.
The visitors’ next try came from a Pembroke scrum 30 metres from their own line. The hosts won the ball but a dropped pass enabled Matthew Hughes to collect and feed Matthew Wright. He made ground before passing inside to the ever-supporting Arwel Lloyd who scored his second try of the day. Steff Rees converted and Aber moved on to 5-38.
The skipper claimed his hat-trick of tries from a lineout catch by Dan Binks. The drive forward collapsed but Lloyd was again on hand to barge over crowning an excellent performance which not even a bloodied head could spoil. Steff Rees converted to put Aber up to 5-45.
The visitors closed their scoring after an excellent long penalty kick by Llyr Thomas found touch near the home side’s 5 metre line. They won the lineout and fed the ball out for Owain Bonsall to pass to brother Steffan to score the final try. The conversion rebounded from the post but Aber were comfortably into Round 2 having won 5-50.
The second round draw was made earlier in the week and Aber’s win means has seen them earn a home tie against Bonymaen, with that fixture taking place on Saturday (Oct 27).
Borth comeback sends Street packing
BORTH United made it through to the first round proper of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday (Sept 29) as two late goals earned them a 2-1 win.
This much anticipated local derby began in glorious sunshine at Cae Piod and in a tense opening to the match the hosts took the lead within two minutes as Tom Williams’s glancing header from a corner kick beat Ben Willis.
Almost immediately after Williams was unlucky to see his low shot miss the post by inches.
Worryingly for the Borth management team, their side didn’t threaten Alex Pennock’s goal to such an extent the host’s defence were comfortable in dealing with the visitor’s forwards attacks.
Bow Street also had chances to double their lead but missed the target as they held a slender 1-0 lead at half time.
Bow Street held the upper hand as the second half got underway and Steffan Richards’ cross from the byline grazed the crossbar.
Borth, to their credit, also created some chances as Ryan Davies’s rasping low shot was turned for a corner by keeper Pennock.
As the end to end attacks continued Owen Roberts-Young’s superb shot was turned for a corner kick by keeper Willis.
The match reached the last ten minutes with the game still very much in the balance.
Borth’s Dion Ellis-Clark weaved his way from his own half past the Street defence and laid on a through ball for Ryan Davies to make no mistake with a low shot past Pennock for the equalizer.
The visitors sensed an unlikely winner and a long kick from Ben Willis wasn’t dealt with properly by the home defence and Justin Quinn seized on the loose ball and rounded the keeper for what proved to be the winning goal and send the superb Borth supporters euphoric on the sidelines.
It was an excellent cup tie and Borth’s reward for their victory is a game away to Llangefni Town in the first round proper.
The two teams will do battle once again on Saturday (Oct 6) as they meet at the home of Borth United for a Mid Wales League Cup first round tie, kick off 2:30pm.
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