Two of the Welsh National League Premier Division’s in form teams will meet today, as Chirk AAA and Saltney Town look to climb North Wales’ third tier table.
We spoke to Saltney Town manager Jake Gibbons to find out his thoughts on the game ahead and Saltney’s season so far, which after a subdued start has seen them lose just one of their past five games, drawing with promotion contenders Brickfield and inflicting Corwen’s only home defeat of the season with a 2-1 win.
Now, Saltney’s next challenge is a trip to Chirk AAA. The home side will be eyeing a victory off the back of a 3-1 win against Radnor Valley in the FAW Trophy, with their steady season placing them sixth in the table, losing just two games so far.
A host of games in hand will also favour their quest in overtaking the likes of Corwen and FC Nomads who sit above them by just one point.
The home side will be rejuvenated with striker Nicky Williams returning to the fold, with further firepower coming from Joe Roberts, Nathan Lavender and Chris Bennion who are all available for selection.
Asked about what he expects from Chirk, Jake Gibbons said:
“Chirk are always one of the best teams in this league. They have the league’s best centre back in their skipper and really good movement up top, however now teams are paying players it seems they’ve lost a few and so might not be in the title run in like they usually are.”
With some big results in recent weeks, Saltney come into the game in high spirits. Although they’re aware of the big players in the league, Gibbons remains confident of a result come Saturday evening.
“Last week was a decent result considering the spending power and strength in depth Brickfield have, whilst we still pay subs and have half the team running a marathon in 3 weeks to fund ground improvements.
But it’s no shock to me or our dressing room, we know we have an 11 to match anything in this league on our day. It gives a good feel going into the Chirk game and we fancy another result.”
In terms of a secret to discovering their recent run, Gibbons points towards the fitness aspect of their training alongside a simple yet effective tactical approach to their game.
“In terms of recent improvements I think, they’re a result of some consistency in our selection, we train 3 hours a week – 2 hours fitness with not a ball in sight and so that’s beginning to take effect and perhaps a change in shape to a more simple 4-4-2 has also helped.
We were never far away in the bad run losing by the odd goal to some of the stronger teams in the league but we are much improved and looking to climb the table now.”
New signing Warren Kelly will be be available for Gibbons on Saturday, with the manager confident the former FC Nomads man will be a good fit for Bordermen’s front line.
“Warren comes in with a fantastic goal record. Signing players that I’ve wanted and that would genuinely improve us has been very difficult with FC Nomads, Buckley, Mold, Flint and Brickfield all taking lads from the local area with the offer of money or alliance football but Warren has come in and seems to have the right attitude.
He wants to work hard, has that swagger and confidence a goal scorer needs and wants to score the ugly goals which we’ve lacked. That someone to put there head or toe in where they might get hurt so hopefully he will be amongst the goals for us.”
On the club’s ambitions for the future, Gibbons points towards growth on and off the pitch in order to edge towards promotion and asks the local community to get involved at Sandy Lane.
“Our club continues to grow and with the launch of a junior section and ground improvements in the pipeline we will look to kick on up this league and be real contenders in the next couple of years.
“I think it’s vital that we get moments like this in your feature to not only thank the handful of volunteers who dedicate their life to Saltney, none more than Marc Edwards and Daz Meredith, who are the heart and soul of our club, but we ask others in our locality to come and see what’s going on at Sandy Lane, it’s a club with a special feel and I’m proud to be a part of it as I know it is going to be at the heart of this community for years to come.”
The game kicks off at Chirk AAA on Saturday 26 November for a 2:00pm kick off.