Chris Venables Still The Go-To Man For Goals in Europe When Welsh Clubs Step Up

Penybont striker Chris Venables. Pic: FAW

Chris Venables Still The Go-To Man For Goals in Europe When Welsh Clubs Step Up


By Gareth James

Chris Venables may turn 38 next weekend, but Penybont manager Rhys Griffiths is still backing him to be a major goal threat once again this season.

Griffiths enticed the former Bala Town skipper to head south to join his side and be a part of their first foray into European competition.

With 240 goals in 502 top-flight games in his 16-year career to date, he came with a well-deserved reputation as a leading marksman.

It proved to be a successful switch for both parties as Venables came up with the goal for the Bridgend-based club that saw them earn a 1-1 draw against Andorran side FC Santa Coloma last week.

It was the best result of all four Welsh sides in Europe and gives them the best chance of extending their stay in the Europa Conference first qualifying round if they can give their new recruit more sight on goal.

“I think Chris will score goals for us in tight games. He was frustrated at not scoring in pre-season but delighted to get another European goal in his full debut – and I was delighted for him,” said Griffiths.

“The draw was probably a fair result, although I thought we possibly deserved to win.

“We had a lot of momentum, but they were fitter than I thought they would be and were a big threat on the counter.

“I suppose it is going to be another tight affair when we travel to them. They are a good side and it is certainly going to be difficult for us.”

It’s Venables 11th European campaign for a fourth different club, but only his third goal in 20 games.

An early birthday present this week, with one or more goals, would be the perfect result for both the player and his new teammates.

Haverfordwest County will go into their return game with Macedonian side Shkëndija on Thursday trailing by a single goal.

That should give the Bluebirds every incentive to chase the game and try to pull off a surprise victory in a game that will be played at Cardiff City Stadium.

“I would have taken a 1-0 away defeat before the game. They are a full-time club who have an excellent team that has been in Europe 11 times in the last 12 years,” said Haverfordwest boss, Tony Pennock.

“We began to believe in ourselves as the game wore on. We had spells of pressure and we created some chances.

“We know we will get chances this week, we just have to take them. If we score, then it will be game on.”

Reigning JD Cymru Premier champions The New Saints will be hoping that star striker Declan McManus’s first goal in the Champions League has given them something to build on in Tuesday night’s second leg against Swedish Cup holders BK Hacken.

Their 3-1 defeat in Gothenburg to a side making their Champions League debut was respectable enough.

The Welsh side battled through the second half without conceding any more goals and will at least have a sniff on home turf at Park Hall.

“We could’ve crumbled and gone under after going 2-0 down in the first half. We replied by scoring a fantastic goal,” said TNS boss Craig Harrison.

“Maybe if we could’ve got to the interval only one goal behind and put in that second half performance then 2-1 would’ve been an unbelievable result for us.

“I can’t praise them enough – the starting XI, the subs and even those who didn’t come on. As crazy as it sounds – we’re still in the game.”

Also in action at home this week will be Connah’s Quay Nomads, who conceded two second half goals to Icelandic side KA Akureyri to leave themselves with a mountain to climb in the return leg.


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