Huw Griffiths wants Cefn Druids to be ‘empowered with belief’ as they attempt to shock reigning champions The New Saints on home turf tonight.
The Ancients suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Saints last season, failing to score a goal in 4-0 and 2-0 losses over the festive period.
Griffiths’ men were praised for their performance in the 2-0 home defeat as Saints set a new world record of consecutive wins, but the Druids boss wants more than compliments this season.
“It is a massive test for the club,” said Griffiths. “We are in the same league as them though and we are looking to implement what we want to do.
“We were able to do that in the last couple of games, but there will be long periods where we won’t be able to do that against TNS and we need to concentrate as a group.
“It is important we empower the players with belief.”
An improving Druids will be expected to have more possession this season than they did against TNS last term, but Griffiths knows that isn’t always a good thing.
He continued: “We’ve got more attacking options and a better squad who will see more of the ball, but you can be more vulnerable with the ball because you are playing higher up the pitch and there is more space for a good team to exploit.
“It is not a game you target before the season to get points from, certainly if you are outside the top five, and that allows you to play with a bit more freedom and gives us the chance to try and do what we want to do.
“We no we will be battling against the odds, but we want to empower the players to express themselves.”
Saints have not been unbeatable this season, losing their opener 5-2 at Bangor City before bouncing back with wins against Bala and Barry Town ahead of last weekend’s penalty shootout success over Livingston in the Scottish Challenge Cup.
With Scott Ruscoe now in charge people are waiting for Saints to falter, but Griffiths has warned people about under-estimating the champions.
“You don’t become a bad team overnight,” said Griffiths. “Scott and Steve (Evans) have been at the club for a long time and they know how it works.
“Scott will have to earn his stripes, that doesn’t come overnight, but I am sure they will be fine.
“As soon as things go wrong they will be scapegoats, but that is the same for all new managers and we’ve all been through it.”
Druids have injury doubts over captain Stuart Cook, Aaron Simpson, James Davies, Mike Pritchard and Arek Piskorski, although Jonny Taylor returns from suspension and Ellis Healing could be handed a start after scoring a hat-trick in the Newfa Challenge Cup win over Gresford Athletic.
Nev Powell’s Aberystwyth Town play host to third placed Cardiff Met tomorrow afternoon, while Bangor City, in fourth, entertain pointless Carmarthen and improving Newtown head to Barry Town United.