Cymru Alliance Previews: Halliwell demands improvements from Gresford players

Reporter:

Daniel Heald

Steve Halliwell expects a positive reaction from his Gresford Athletic side in their home clash with Queen’s Park on Saturday.

A 94th minute equaliser denied Athletic victory in the 2-2 draw with Penryncoch last weekend, a result that ‘sickened’ Halliwell.

Currently eighth in the table after a five-game unbeaten sequence, the club has steadily improved this campaign after a sluggish start.

But Halliwell insists his side can ill-afford further slip-ups against rivals in the bottom half of the table.

He said: “Penrhyncoch was two points dropped without a doubt.

“We’d looked at the game as the first of three winnable league fixtures this month and we’d targeted nine points from them.

“We fell at the first hurdle there, but the fact is that we shouldn’t be dropping points at home to the likes of Penrhyncoch.

“If we’re going to push ourselves up the league then draws are no good to us and from winning positions our game management has to be better.

“Form goes out of the window for the Queen’s Park game – it’s a derby and they desperately need the points.

“We know they’ll show a lot of fighting spirit but the game gives us a chance to put things right and I expect us to win.”

Athletic triumphed 3-2 in September’s reverse fixture and prevailed by the same score to lift the NEWFA Cup four months earlier.

Both results left Park boss Martin Ford aggrieved, and he has challenged his side to avenge those losses tomorrow.

A 4-0 reverse at Flint last weekend was Park’s 12th defeat of a season that has yielded only five points to date.

But Ford maintains that the derby clash provides the perfect incentive for his side to pick up a long overdue win.

He said: “There’s pride at stake in a local derby and this is exactly the type of game that can help us get back on track.

“Both of the last two games have been open and attacking games which suits the way we play.

“The Flint game was probably our worst performance of the season and we want to put that right and start playing on the front foot again.

“We’ve lost a couple of players to Gresford this season too, so it’ll be an interesting game I’m sure.”

Midfielder Mike Latham made the switch from Park to Athletic in October and could line up against his former side.

Striker Owen Roberts misses out for Athletic with injury, while midfielder Tom Freeman is suspended.

Park are boosted by the return of defender Nicky Chesters and forward Helder Ramos.

Andy Thomas believes newly-signed winger Curtis Strong can be a ‘real asset’ to Airbus in the remainder of the season.

The 22-year-old played most recently with Nantwich Town and has become the latest addition to the Wingmakers’ squad.

After progressing through the youth ranks at Stoke, where he played for the Potters' Under-21s, the versatile wideman joined Tamworth in August 2015.

Strong could be in contention to start at Guilsfield tomorrow and assistant boss Thomas insists the player can make a big impact.

He said: “Curtis has got lots of pace and quality and played on the heavy pitches of the Evo Stik North division so we think he’ll be able to adjust quickly to the Alliance and be a real asset for us.

“We’ve also brought in Nathan Quirk at full-back from Radcliffe Borough to strengthen us defensively and hopefully we can push another couple of signings through in the days ahead.

“Guilsfield have done well this season with some decent results. They’re a well-organised unit that are tough to break down so we’ll have to be clinical with the chances that come our way.”

Ryan Edwards returns for Airbus, while defender Steff Edwards is sidelined with injury.

Holywell Town are relishing their overdue return to Halkyn Road against Ruthin Town according to manager John Haseldin.

A 4-0 victory against Holyhead Hotspur on December 2 was the club’s last home game, with seven of their last eight fixtures played away.

The club have acquitted themselves well in a difficult sequence of games after winning four of their last five and have risen to second in the table.

He said: “It’s been a tough run for us but I’m pretty pleased with how we’ve done overall.

“Picking up points away from home is difficult against anyone in this league, so these results help to breed confidence.

“We’re seven points better off than we were at the same stage last season and that’s something we’ll keep trying to improve on to keep ourselves near the top sides in this division.”

Haseldin hopes his side can avenge the result in September’s reverse fixture where Ruthin’s Tomos Roberts snatched a 90th minute leveller in a pulsating 4-4 draw.

“Picking up wins on the road breeds confidence and we go into the Ruthin game but we know there’s room for improvement” he added

“We were caught out late in the game at their place, but credit to them they’ve got quality there and like us they’re a team who probably don’t get the credit they deserve.

“We haven’t been ruthless enough in games and hopefully we can put a few more of our chances away in front of our home supporters.”

The Wellmen will be without 15-goal top scorer Steve Lewis who collected his fifth booking last weekend and is suspended.

Flint Town united manager manager Niall McGunness has challenged his players to ‘kick-on’ from last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Queen’s Park.

The league victory was the first in McGuinness’ early tenure and the ex-Rhyl boss has called for a repeat performance at Penrhyncoch tomorrow.

He said: “Last weekend was a big result for us and put a bit of distance between us and the clubs down the bottom.

“Hopefully that result can be a solid platform for us to kick-on in the second half of the season now.

“Improving our league position is still the priority but we’ve still got lots to play for this season with League Cup and Welsh Cup games still to come.

“Penrhyncoch always make it difficult for sides. We went there when I was at Rhyl and they fought back twice to get a draw so I know we’ll have to work hard to come away with anything.”

Silkmen midfielder Rob Jones has a hamstring injury and is a doubt for the clash.

Leaders Caernarfon Town host Rhyl, in-form Porthmadog entertain Caersws while basement side Llandudno Junction host Eddie Maurice-Jones’ Denbigh Town.

Email:

daniel.heald@nwn.co.uk

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