AFTER a dismal Welsh Premier League campaign last season, Llandudno are already showing signs that they are ready to put that all behind them this year as they have picked up two wins out of two so far.
Last year, the Seasiders suffered a slight dose of “second season syndrome” as they endured a long and at times, painful campaign. They finished ninth in the league, five points above relegated Rhyl and were the lowest scoring side in the division (31).
It was a long way away from the euphoria of their debut WPL season in 2015/16, in which they managed to finish third in the league table and qualify for Europe, in a season that truly defied belief.
This year however, they’ll be looking to return to that kind of consistent form and are showing signs of being able to do just that.
Their 3-0 opening day win over Carmarthen Town at Maesdu park was followed up with a 2-0 away win at Aberystwyth last weekend. Already, their defence is looking more confident and their attack is looking sharper too.
The addition of 19-year-old Shaun Cavanagh to the side will no doubt add some goals to the mix and I think Bangor were wrong to let him go as he could go on to be a great player. He scored on his debut for the club on the opening day of the season and has already shown what he is capable of.
Fellow new signing, 18-year-old Sam Ilesanmi, is also an exciting prospect and many fans of the league are eager to see what he can do if given the chance.
Of course, they’ve also managed to hold on to the talismanic Marc Williams too. The former Wrexham man scooped the Welsh Premier league Player of the Year back in that miraculous debut season for Llandudno and has been their top scorer in both their seasons in the top flight.
Last year, he struggled with injuries and that in turn played a huge part in the team not scoring many goals (he finished as top scorer with just six to his name). Some of the weight will be taken off his shoulders this year however, especially if young Cavanagh can continue to find form.
The Seasiders are looking stronger defensively too.
They have brought in former Tranmere Rovers reserves player, Gabriel Kubwalo, who is a strong and commanding centre half. He should be able to compete with Mike Williams and Sam Hart for a place in the starting line-up, adding some healthy competition to the squad.
Their defenders score goals as well, which is always a vital component to a decent side in my opinion. Hart is currently the club’s top scorer this year, having netted two penalties in their 3-0 opening day win over Carmarthen, whilst full-back Danny Shaw has also scored. Mike Williams will no doubt score a few as weeks go by, as he proved last season by scoring four.
Elsewhere in the team, they have several talented players.
Danny Hughes is a midfielder that works his socks off in every game and is partial to scoring some long range screamers. Tom Dix is the club captain and is another midfielder who works tirelessly throughout.
New signing, Ryan J Edwards will undoubtedly add some extra quality to their midfield too, whether that be in the starting eleven or off the bench.
Manager Alan Morgan is an experienced individual who has guided the club to the WPL and has kept them there for three seasons. He’s shown great knowledge of the transfer market over the summer with his signings and has become a well-respected character in the league.
I think that the current squad of players that they have on their hands can most certainly finish within the top six again this year and put the misery of last year well and truly to bed.
Their next game against tough opponents Connah’s Quay this afternoon will prove whether or not they’re ready to go one step further and challenge at the very top. I think that might all be a little too soon, but they can certainly build up a decent campaign this year.
If I had to guess, I’d say that they’ll finish sixth and will get the chance to compete for a place in the Europa League qualifiers once again. They might struggle once the split takes place but they’ll certainly improve on last year.