WITH the 2017/18 Welsh Premier League season edging ever closer AFEFootballNews takes a look at just five of the players, playing in teams that the “experts” are tipping to be in danger, who could make the difference to their sides this year.
Most of the fans of the WPL that I have spoke to in recent weeks believe that Prestatyn Town, Llandudno, Barry Town, Cardiff Met Uni, Cefn Druids and Aberystwyth Town will make up the bottom six this season.
Now, whether that will be true come the end of the season is anyone’s guess of course, but basing it off those judgements, I have picked out just five of the players that I think could stand out for five of those teams during the campaign.
Geoff Kellaway (Abersytwyth Town)
Veteran forward Kellaway will no doubt be a key player for an Aber squad that is, at the moment, looking a little thin in terms of squad depth.
Having first played for the black and green’s way back in 2003/04, the 31-year-old then went on to have brief spells at Llanelli and Carmarthen before returning to Park Avenue in 2013/14, where has remained a first team regular since.
During his successful run in the Premier Division of Wales, Kellaway has played over 200 league games for Aber alone, scoring 63 times and is now considered to be a club legend amongst their loyal fans.
He scored 8 goals in 22 appearances in the WPL last season and with news of his recent contract extension at the club it looks as though he’s determined to continue his legacy in the WPL.
There is no doubt that they will be turning to him for the goals again this year, in a campaign that looks increasingly as though they could be heading towards the danger zone.
Ashley Ruane (Cefn Druids)
32-year-old striker Ruane first appeared in the WPL with Caernarfon back in 2008-09, scoring three goals in 13 appearances in a season that saw the Canaries relegated back down to the Cymru Alliance.
After that, he disappeared from the top flight for a number of years before making a return in 2014-15 with Rhyl. He made a name for himself during this period scoring five goals in just nine league games for the Lillywhites.
Since this period, he’s become a prolific WPL goalscorer. in 2015-16, he scored seven goals in 14 games for Connah’s Quay and last season he finished as Cefn Druids’ top scorer with an impressive record of 11 in 20.
Many people I’ve spoke to fancy the Ancients to be relegation candidates during this campaign, but I think the fact that they have Ruane gives them hope that this will not be the case.
A strong and reliable character, who knows exactly where to be to score goals, Ruane has become a well known name in Welsh football over the past three seasons or so and I can only see him being just that once again during the 2017/18 campaign as the Druids look to prove their critics wrong.
Marc Williams (Llandudno)
Williams has well and truly slotted into this Llandudno side as their main man over the past two seasons.
Of course, the clubs debut WPL season in 2015-16 will always be one to remember for the talented forward. He scored 16 goals in 32 appearances that year and helped the Seasiders finish in a Europa League spot. He then scooped the Welsh Premier League Player of the Year award at the end of the season and well and truly established himself as a household name.
Last year was a tougher season for both Williams and Llandudno. Whilst he himself struggled with injuries throughout the campaign, the club fell towards the bottom six and just about managed to avoid relegation. Despite all that though, he was still their top scorer at the end of the season, netting six goals.
Ahead of this season, Williams has already signed a new contract with the club and has stated that he is confident that they can vastly improve on the disappointment of last campaign.
Many believe that Llandudno will need all the help they can get this year and know that Williams will be the most vital player to the side.
The former Welsh Under 21 international has bags of experience to bring to the table, having played 40 games for Wrexham in the football league, as well as playing for the likes of Chester and Kidderminster Harriers too so Llandudno will no doubt be using his knowledge of the game to their advantage.
Jack Kenny (Prestatyn Town)
With the news that prolific striker Jordan Davies, who was the Welsh Alliance’s top scorer last season, has had his contract terminated at Prestatyn, they’ll be desperate for someone to turn to in their hour of need.
Luckily for them though, they also have another great striker in the form of Jack Kenny. He was third top scorer in the Alliance last season, finishing the season with an impressive 19 goals to his name.
Having previously been at Alsager Town and Atherton Collieries, the Englishman has also proved that he can hack it in the Welsh Prem in the past. Back in the 2014-15 season a then 21 year old Kenny played made six starts for Rhyl and scored on four occasions, which is a more than decent return.
It’s going to be a tough season ahead for the Seasiders and indeed for Kenny too, but I think he could be the standout star for them this year if things go his way.
Adam Roscrow (Cardiff Met)
Whilst six goals in 26 games may not look overly impressive for a forward’s record, I do believe that those stats don’t quite justify just how important Roscrow was to the Cardiff Met side of last season.
During their unforgettable debut season in the WPL, the Archers managed to finish sixth in the league and the 22-year-old striker was vital to that success, holding the ball up well in the right areas of the pitch and shielding the ball from opposition players with his physical presence.
Joint top-scorer with Eliot Evans, Roscrow proved to be a handful for many a defender and Cardiff Met fans have given him high praise since seeing how consistent he was last year.
This time around, Cardiff Met will be looking to finish in the top six once again. There’s no doubting that it will be tough as other teams around them continue to strengthen as well, but with the likes of Roscrow working their socks for the full ninety minutes, it certainly gives them a good chance of succeeding.
Will we see those these five teams battling it out for survival at the end of the season? or will their star men save them from such drama? time will tell I suppose.
The Welsh Premier League campaign kicks off on Friday, August 11, when Bala Town v Newtown, Bangor City v TNS and Prestatyn Town vs Connah’s Quay all kick off at 7.45pm.
All pictures belong to rightful owners and have been taken from Google image searches of the players names.