Prestatyn Sports FC: 2018/19 season preview
PRESTATYN Sports are heading into the unknown as they enter the Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Division One fray for the first time in their history.
The ambitious club have enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Welsh pyramid system thanks to a strong backroom staff led by Mark Hughes and John Hargreaves, together with a talented squad that has the right mix of quality and fighting spirit.
These traits have been key components behind their initial success since their inception, which saw them emerge as deserved winners of the Division Two crown last term despite encountering a host of games in a short space of time throughout the spring due to a large number of cancellations in the winter months.
They do have experience of playing against this standard of opposition in cup competitions, and they have fared relatively well against the likes of Llandyrnog United that should give them plenty of confidence heading into the season.
Another huge factor in their progression has been their home form, with their Gronant base proving to be a fantastic asset and teams find it very difficult there thanks to the windy conditions which Sports are fully used to.
The management team have made some useful additions including the vastly experienced combative midfielder Ross Hannen as they look to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the third tier, but this is a completely different proposition to what they are normally accustomed to and it will be interesting to see how they adjust to life with a higher standard of opposition.
Key man: Ian Griffiths
Much will depend on the form of Griffiths throughout the season, with the prolific striker regarded as one of the best finishers anywhere in the region and turned down a move to Huws Gray Alliance side Prestatyn Town this summer to remain at the club.
Providing he gets the necessary service, then Griffiths has the potential to be among the best forwards in the division, and his composure in front of goal is something that really sets him apart.
Player to watch: Darren Cassidy
Cassidy is a very comfortable presence on the ball and has the necessary quality to be a real hit after joining the Sports set-up during the pre-season.
He has fantastic vision and a superb work ethic, which is what Hughes and Hargreaves look for in every squad member they seem to bring in, so it would be a surprise if Cassidy did not make a significant impact to benefit the club early on.
This is without a doubt the biggest challenge that Sports have faced in their history, and given all their recent winning it will be interesting to see how they react as a group when difficult times of the season inevitably befall them.
Despite this, the squad and club as a whole have a solid foundation from which to build and bee successful in the division, and recent years have shown that newly promoted teams can make a considerably impression from the off which can give them plenty of hope for optimism.
It is not going to be easy given the amount of quality and investment the fancied sides have at their disposal, and while a title challenge looks an unrealistic prospect they can still push for a possible top-six spot which will be a fantastic achievement in their first season at this level.
Prediction: 6th (Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Division One)
First five fixtures: Aug 11: Barmouth Dyffryn (A), Aug 14: Llanrwst United (A), August 18: Mynydd Llandegai (H), Aug 25: Llangefni Town (H), Aug 28: Llandudno Albion (H).