Abertillery Bluebirds

The iconic home ground of newly-promoted Abertillery Bluebirds. Pic: Abertillery Bluebirds

Opportunity Beckons In Cymru South This Season As Llanelli and Briton Ferry Lead The Chase

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By Ian Mitchelmore

The domestic Welsh football season is back after Cwmbran Celtic won 3-2 at Goytre United on Thursday night as the Cymru South campaign began.

With no sides dropping down from the top-flight, this is one title that is firmly up for grabs.

Abertillery Bluebirds and Caerau Ely enjoyed stunning campaigns last time out, winning the Ardal South East and South West divisions respectively to rise into what looks to be an open South second tier league for 2023-24.

The additions of former Wales youth player Keane Royall and Josh Clayton to the Bluebirds’ squad are hugely exciting while Dan Bowen, Jack Turner, Callum Jones, Adam Coomer, Cameron Gauci, James Williams, Harry Johnson, Jac Davies and Brandon Griffiths have all made the switch to Cwrt-yr-Ala.

While it would be a seismic shock for either side to trouble those chasing promotion, the lack of a Cymru Premier team falling into the second tier offers the dreamers plenty of hope.

That will undoubtedly excite new boys Baglan Dragons who have secured back-to-back promotions, defeating Risca United 2-0 courtesy of a Jordan Evans brace in last season’s Southern play-off final to move one step away from the top level of Welsh domestic football.

The Dragons have recruited Tom Davies, Levi Waters, Corey Green, Leroy Croucher and Owen Williams over the summer period and could well spring a few surprises in the division this season.
But let’s be frank, there are two obvious contenders for glory.

Champions Barry Town United were rampant last term, with nearest challengers Llanelli Town and Briton Ferry Llansawel finishing 16 and 18 points respectively behind the Jenner Park outfit. Make no mistake though, they will be sniffing blood this time around.

The Reds have drafted in forward David Lyon from Taffs Well and defender Danny Birch from Ammanford while goalkeeper Luke Martin – twice a winner of this league – has joined from Swansea University.

But the capture of Liam Warman from last season’s champions Barry Town United has certainly whetted the appetite of all at Stebonheath Park. Llanelli will take some stopping as they look to go one better this time around.

Goals were no problem for the Ferry last term, and they were certainly tough to beat. And ahead of the upcoming campaign, Joseph Jones, Josh Bull and Aaron Jones have moved to Old Road as Briton Ferry Llansawel look to challenge for top spot. What a battle this could turn out to be.

Carmarthen Town, Cambrian & Clydach Vale BGC, Afan Lido and Llantwit Major were all comfortably in the top half of the table in 2022-23, although they were some way off the chasing pair who ultimately finished well off first position.

It will take some doing for any of these sides to do the unthinkable by lifting the trophy just before the summer of 2024, although, if there’s going to be a surprise package, it may well come from here.

The Old Gold were unbeaten in their final eight league outings last term, winning six of those, and will hope the returns of players such as Ben Steele and Lee Idzi along with the signings of Jordan Langley and Mason Thomas will boost their chances of carrying that momentum into the season ahead.

Ammanford were one of only two sides to defeat champions Barry Town United in the league last term, and Gruff Harrison’s troops have done some smart business, adding Craig Davies, Tristan Jenkins, Harry Huddart, Leon Luby, Adam John, Adam Orme, Jack Lansdown and Nic Arnold to their ranks.

They will hope to finish in the top eight this time, with the likes of Cwmbran Celtic and Pontardawe Town also bound to be in the running.

It was too close for comfort as far as Taffs Well, Goytre United, Abergavenny Town and Trefelin BGC were all concerned last time out, but with the league’s three new additions all coming from further down the pyramid, these four can look to build having preserved their tier two status.

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