Well I would never have expected to be writing about a potential title challenge going into the last 3 months of our first season in the JD Cymru Premier but here we are! It will be tough with the split however as we will need to play powerhouses Connah’s Quay & Bala Town twice, as well as reigning champions Bangor City, and Barry Town who have beaten us on 3 occasions so far this season.
My aim going in to these last 3 months is to try and finish in the top 3 and cement a europa league place, as the money that even one qualifying round would bring in would really help the club out of its current sticky financial situation and allow them to support me in pursuing further coaching badges. 9 games to go, 3 matches a month, lets get into it!
Games at home to Penybont & Connah’s Quay either side of an away game to Bala Town awaited us. I really wanted to try to get 7 points from these games, it was ambitious but definitely possible.
A poor performance meant we were lucky to escape with a 0-0 draw at home to Penybont, I was really dissapointed with the team to be honest, if we were going to have any chance of a title challenge we had to try to win the games against Penybont & Barry and hope for a few positive results against Bala, Connah’s Quay & Bangor, so to start like this was less than ideal.
A really close encounter against Bala Town followed and we were so unlucky to lose that game, but 2 goals from Bailey-Green helped us to bounce straight back with a 4-2 win at home against Connah’s Quay. Which meant at the end of February and with 6 games to go the league looked like this:
Although it looked unlikely we would end up with the title, the 3 games this month were absolutely crucial. A home game to Bangor City, which if we’re going to take any points from that team it would be under those circumstances, followed by another home game to our bogey team Barry, and then an away trip to Penybont. If we were being ambitious we could look to take home 9 points, but in reality I would have been over the moon with 7.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. We had a great start to the month with a fantastic win against Bangor City, which was without a doubt our toughest game of the month. This left me with confidence of taking the ambitious 9 points I had hoped for. However that bogey team Barry struck again to hold on for a draw in a game we completely dominated, which incredibly means we played Barry 4 times this season and never won, losing 3 and drawing 1.
We then rounded off the month with an even game against Penybont, we probably did enough to edge it but a draw was a fair result. Unfortunately this meant that the best we could really hope for was a top 3 finish and an all important Europa League place going into the final month of the season.
This was not a month I had high expectations for, the 3 games remaining in the league were a home game against Bala Town, before away trips to Connah’s Quay & Bangor City. It could easily be a month with 0 points, however if a few results went our way could also be the big wins to catapult us to the title on the final day. Let’s start with the game against Bala…
Not really sure how in a game of few chances but we managed to edge out a 1-0 win against the current league leaders, which meant with 2 games to go the table looked like this.
The gap was down to 3 points. Only away trips to Bangor City & Connah’s Quay stood in our way, if we could win them both I was confident Bala might drop points somewhere. If not, then as long as we could take points off Bangor City we would be in the driving seat for a 2nd place finish.
It wasn’t to be… we lost both games which I was really disappointed about, particularly as both games were so close and they could have gone either way. It meant the final league table looked like this:
I was delighted with the team to be honest, if I had finished 10th I would have been happy so to finish 3rd and only 6 points behind the title winners was a very big achievement. If only we hadn’t struggled so much against Barry then maybe we would have had the first season of dreams but who knows!
I was delighted to settle for a Europa League spot and the huge financial difference that would make to the club… but hang on, as you can see Bangor City’s place is confirmed by the EC2 next to their name, but where’s mine? That’s when I remembered, the final European spot only goes to 3rd place if one of the top two win the JD Welsh Cup. So I quickly searched for the competition to see who had made it to the final and prayed that either Bala or Bangor City were there… I couldn’t believe it.
Newtown, who finished 8th, won against Caernarfon, who finished 10th. Played at the 51,000 capacity Ryan Giggs Arena built on the game in 2022. One of the worst cup finals in history, but worse than the spectacle was that because of the teams involved, it didn’t matter who won it, the winners (Newtown) would claim the final European spot and we would be left in financial ruin for at least another year. The final league table confirms:
I was devastated, all the boys hard work to be in the title race right until the end and we weren’t even to be rewarded with a Europa League place. To be honest this felt like the end of my time at Llanelli Town, my contract was running out at the end of the season and the board were keen to enter discussions to renew for a 2 year deal.
I wanted to continue the work to try and build the club to become consistent title challengers but at the same time I wasn’t sure they were able to support me to achieve additional qualifications and allow me to attract a higher calibre of club in the future. I thought I would give them a chance before declining talks point blank and I requested to go on a coaching course to achieve my National A Licence, unfortunately they declined citing financial reasons. My mind was made up, I would apply for other jobs that became available to see what offers come in, if nothing took my fancy then I would stay on, but I really wanted a club who were in a position to help me progress as a manager.
In the next episode we will be beginning Season 4 of this challenge. Will I be able to find a club who are not only able to support me with the finances for additional coaching qualifications, but are also a bit of a step up in reputation? Find out on Monday 18th January 2021.
Hope you’ve all had a good start to life in 2021! Don’t forget you can subscribe below to have updates from the challenge sent directly to your email and again if you have any thoughts, tips or feedback leave them in the comments below or get in touch with us through our contact page or social media. If you’re enjoying then make sure you like and share with other FM enthusiasts!
While you’re here if you want to follow more challenges go over to Scott’s (the co-author of this site) challenge where he is on a journey to rebuild Bolton Wanderers and take them on a Europa League run! Link: https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/bolton-back-to-europa-s1e1/
Thank you for reading and see you again soon!