PICTURE by Brian Jones/TNS FC.
THE NEW SAINTS (TNS) star Adrian Ceislewicz has been one of the standout stars of the season in the opening spells of the 2020/21 JD Cymru Premier campaign.
The Polish winger has hit three goals in as many games, as his side have maintained a perfect start to the campaign, winning all three matches, scoring nine goals and conceding zero.
I caught up with Cieslewicz ahead of TNS; huge clash against fellow title-chasers Bala Town at Maes Tegid tonight. I began by asking how it felt to be one of the early pace-setters in terms of goals in the division.
Over the years, the wide man has an impressive goal-scoring record for The Saints. Since joining, he’s hit (all comps*): 11 goals in 29 apps (2014/15), 10 in 34 (15/16), 13 in 23 (16/17) , 1 in 12 (17/18), 4 in 23 (18/19) and 7 in 26 last season plus 3 in 3 so far this year.
That gives him an estimated total of 49 goals in 150 appearances for the club, which isn’t bad for a winger. Can he grab his 50th TNS goal tonight?
*Stats taken from Transfermarkt.com so may not be 100% accurate.
Talking about setting a goal tally, Cieslewicz said: “As a winger, you always want to get to double figures and hopefully I can do that this season, but the main thing is to perform well for the team and hopefully the goals will follow!“
Talking about why he decided to join TNS all those years ago, he added: “After a disappointing spell at Kidderminster Harriers, I wanted to play closer to home as I’ve always been situated in Wrexham (he previously played for Wrexham too).
So, when Craig Harrison (then-manager at TNS) rang me it was an easy decision for me to make as I knew the quality of the TNS team and I knew a few of the lads already. And, of course, the European campaigns are always the icing on the cake to play against some very good teams in Europe.”
And speaking of European games, there was a familiar setting for Cieslewicz when TNS bowed out of the Second Qualifying Round of the UEFA Europa League on penalties to Faroe Islands-based B36 Torshavn earlier this month.
He previously played for the club in 2014 and his brother, Lukasz, was twice named the Faroe Islands Player of the League during his time there between 2011 and 2019.
Cieslewicz said: “It’s a very familiar place for me as i lived in the Faroes for eight years and my brother still lives there, so it was good to see him too when we visited.
Overall though, it was not a very good memory this time as we got knocked out of the competition.”
Last season, Connah’s Quay ended The Saints’ incredible run of winning the JD Cymru Premier title eight years in a row. Following a curtailed season, the Nomads came out on top with games still to play.
Talking about the disappointment of not being crowned a champion, for the first time since he joined the club in 2014, Cieslewicz said: “The league got concluded and there was nothing we can do about that but overall i don’t think we were good enough last year. We had too many off days and it cost us in the end!
“Going in to this season we’re just taking it a game at a time and if everybody performs to the best of their abilities, then we should be okay but its a long way to go.
“I think the league is getting stronger for sure – more players are coming over from the English system and with whats happening with the Coronavirus pandemic now lots of players are out of contract and that can only improve the league again with players wanting to join the Cymru Premier.
“The education of the younger players is also getting better so for younger players also, the league is a good platform to progress their career.
“Players like Leo Smith (22), who has been a very good addition to our squad. He’s already been in the league for awhile so we knew the quality he would bring to the team and he has already shown that he has settled in very well and very quickly, so it’s good to have him on board.”