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.”
Swans grab last gasp play-off spot
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.
Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.
The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.
But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.
John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.
Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.
Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.
Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.
But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.
However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.
Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.
With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.
Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.
With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.
Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.
They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.
The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.
And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.
Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.
Glamorgan launch new kit
GLAMORGAN Cricket has unveiled its new Vitality Blast playing kit for the 2020 season.
Designed by the Club’s official kit supplier, Masuri, alongside Glamorgan’s management, players and coaches, the brand-new Vitality Blast strip contains a subtle Welsh twist.
Fitting Glamorgan’s traditional colour schemes, the top is dark navy with a tonal dragon across the front – a nod to the old Glamorgan nickname and the Welsh identity – while a sharp yellow trim on the neck and sleeves frames the top.
The famous ‘Daff’ sits on the heart of the shirt, with MiPost’s strong Welsh brand centre-stage. Appearing on the collars are the logos of ‘Official Players Car Partner’, Mon Motors and Welsh company, Philtronics Solutions, with Discover Leeks on the right sleeve and SA Group on the back.
The famous Aston Martin logo features on both side of the Glamorgan T20 cap, as they continue their ongoing support of the club.
Head of Commercial, Huw Warren, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Masuri throughout the design process and together developed an exciting new kit we’re sure our supporters will love with its strong connections with Wales.
“Our Masuri kits have always been hugely successful with players and fans alike and we look forward to continuing our commercial partnership with them.
“We can’t wait to see our players wearing the new kit when the Blast gets underway later this summer.”
Masuri CEO, Sam Miller, said: ‘’Once again it has been a pleasure working with the team at Glamorgan to bring this year’s kit to life, and we are looking forward to seeing it in use during the much anticipated Vitality Blast this year.’’
Wembley trip for Giggs’ men
CYMRU will travel to Wembley Stadium on Thursday 8 October for a home nations international against England.
Ryan Giggs’ side will return to action this autumn for the first time in 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kicking off with the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League campaign. The match against England will be one of two additional international matches scheduled as triple headers in October and November. In keeping with current Government guidelines, this fixture is scheduled to be played behind-closed-doors.
Since their first encounter in 1879, England are Cymru’s second oldest opponents with 102 matches in total producing 14 wins, 21 draws and 67 defeats. Cymru’s last visit to Wembley Stadium was in 2011 for a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier, with Ashley Cole scoring in a 1-0 defeat.
Ryan Giggs’ side will be using this match to prepare for the rescheduled EURO 2020 finals next summer where they hope to return to Wembley, one of the host stadiums, for the latter stages of the tournament.
Looking ahead to the autumn, Cymru are in Nations League Group B4 alongside Bulgaria, Finland and the Republic of Ireland with fixture dates as follows:
Thursday, 3 September – Finland v Cymru (7:45pm)
Sunday, 6 September – Cymru v Bulgaria (2:00pm)
Sunday, 11 October – Republic of Ireland v Cymru (2:00pm)
Wednesday, 14 October – Bulgaria v Cymru (7:45pm)
Sunday, 15 November – Cymru v Republic of Ireland (5:00pm)
Wednesday, 18 November – Cymru v Finland (7:45pm)
All fixtures are scheduled to be played behind-closed-doors for the foreseeable future.
The FAW will continue to adhere to relevant Government guidelines and supporters will be notified should arrangements change and tickets become available.
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