Andy Morrison believes his Connah’s Quay side are in good shape heading into the final stretch of the marathon two-phase JD Welsh Premier League season.
Even now half-way through the second phase of the competition, Connah’s Quay, Bala Town and Bangor City are barely separable in their bid to claim the final automatic European qualifying spot.
The first spot is already practically tied up with The New Saints edging towards the league title, the Welsh Cup winners will take one of the UEFA Europa League places as will the Welsh Premier League runners-up. The final spot will be awarded to the winner of an end of season play-off, something Connah’s Quay, Bala and Bangor will all ideally want to avoid being involved in.
The competition for second place intensified again over the weekend and you can expect the teams to be shuffle around places after each passing round right up until the end. A single point is all that separates the three clubs currently – Bala Town have a point advantage over both Connah’s Quay and Bangor, who’re separated by goal difference.
And whilst Bala Town picked up an important win over Bangor City on the weekend, it was the manner of Connah’s Quay’s victory over Cefn Druids which could galvanise them heading into this decisive period.
After beating The New Saints in the Welsh Cup midweek, Connah’s Quay found themselves trailing to Alec Mudimu’s goal at half-time, despite having felt they should have been awarded an equaliser which was adjudged not to have cross the line.
The Nomads chances further deteriorated when Jay Owen was shown a straight red and their plight worsened on 67 minutes when captain George Horan’s dismissal left them with chasing the game with nine-men.
Within ten minutes, a Callum Morris penalty had put Andy Morrison’s side were back on level terms, with five minutes remaining Michael Bakare somehow gave Connah’s Quay the lead.
“I felt at 1-0, with ten men, we could get something out of the game,” an ecstatic Morrison told Connah’s Quay’s official website. “It went down to nine men and it’s a remarkable result and achievement. It speaks volumes of what this club is about and what we’ve created here.”
“Before the [equalising] penalty was taken Mike Pearson came across to me and said If he scores, what do we do? And I said I don’t know! Come back in a couple of minutes, because then it was about trying to get a point,” he added.
Among the Nomads’ final stretch of fixtures, they are still to play Bala Town, Bangor City and leaders The New Saints, as well as a Welsh Cup semi-final tie with Bangor which puts the side very much in charge of their own destiny.
After witnessing his side record successive wins against The New Saints and Cefn Druids, Morrison is adamant his team can rally in the closing stages and has full faith in his squad.
“We are in this together, the character is quite remarkable. We’ve got our backs against the wall now as we have got suspensions, we have got four key players out now but it doesn’t faze me or scare me in anyway because we will find a way like we did today whichever personnel come in.”
After being beaten by Connah’s Quay midweek, The New Saints were unable to return to winning ways after being held to a 1-1 draw with Cardiff Met on Saturday evening.
Eliot Evans looked to have given the Met a surprise win when he scored his 12th goal of the season in the 85th minute, but Estonian Kevin Kauber scored his first goal for The New Saints deep into added time to salvage a point for the league leaders.
Tenth-placed Aberystwyth Town pulled 11 points clear of the relegation zone. Joe Phillips scored the only goal as they saw off Newtown in a dress-rehearsal of their Welsh Cup semi-final clash on April 7th.