WITH just two wins from their opening nine games this season, the pressure is on Rhyl manager Niall McGuinness to turn draws in to victories and avoid slipping further behind in the Huws Gray Alliance promotion race.
Despite suffering just one league defeat so far this term, the Lilywhites currently find themselves seven points adrift of early pacesetters Airbus Broughton, and things came to a head during their home defeat to Ruthin Town after McGuinness was involved in a heated confrontation with frustrated supporters.
With the natives now restless and concerned about the direction the club is heading in, it promises to be a critical month for the Lilies as they look to get their stuttering campaign back on track.
One positive for the young manager is he now has a fortnight to regroup and refocus his side due to their inactivity this weekend, which will give McGuinness the chance to take stock and reflect on the positive and negatives that have transpired so far.
They begin October with a tricky JD Welsh Cup round one clash at Llandudno Albion in what is the biggest game in the history of the Welsh Alliance side.
McGuinness’ men are on a hiding to nothing in this one but will look to avoid a giant-killing that is sure to bring with it even more murmurs of discontent.
They are next in second tier action on October 14 at Gresford Athletic, who proved to be one of the surprise packages last term and have begun to show signs of life after a difficult start to the season.
Being away from home might be a blessing in disguise for this Rhyl side at the present moment, and there will be far less pressure away from their expectant fan base which should result in a more relaxed performance in
October 21 sees them on their travels again when they visit newly promoted FC Queens Park, who have already shown that they are going to be a tough nut to crack on home soil and will be keen to avenge the drubbing they received at the hands of the Lilies earlier in the season.
This will be another huge test of the resolve that lies within the Lilies’ squad, with Martin Ford’s side already claiming the scalp of Airbus and most recently shared the spoils with another fancied side in Holyhead Hotspur.
Their only home encounter of the month is a hugely difficult one when the Wingmakers come to town on October 28, which will give McGuinness a good indication of how far his side are away from challenging at the summit.
Airbus have invested heavily in their squad in the hopes of making an instant return to the WPL, and in powerful forward Alfons Fosu-Mensah they have the only professional player operating outside of the top flight.
There is no denying McGuinness’ credentials, he is a highly qualified coach who is learning every day in what can sometimes be a pressure-cooker environment, and there is plenty of talent situated within his squad to go on a run and mount a title charge.
This will need to start happening sooner rather than later, and any more slip-ups could have huge ramifications for the club’s target of a top flight return.