We begin our 2020/21 JD Cymru Premier campaign this afternoon by hosting The New Saints (kick-off 2:30pm).
It is just over three weeks since our Europa League defeat to NSI Runavík, and the squad have been eager ever since to right the wrongs from the Faroe Islands. Friendlies against AFC Bitton, Swansea City Under 23s and Haverfordwest have proved excellent preparation for the season ahead.
A week after our Europa League exit, The New Saints were in action in the competition’s first qualifying round, and beat Slovakian side MSK Zilina 3-1 at home after extra-time to set up an away trip to B36 Torshavn of the Faroe Islands in the second qualifying round.
That fixture is in three days’ time, but for now their focus will be on the Cymru Premier as they look to regain top spot in the table. It is the first time since 2011 that the Oswestry outfit will not begin the season as title holders after Connah’s Quay Nomads were declared champions on a points-per-game basis in May when the decision was taken to curtail the league due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the four meetings between these two sides last season, TNS won two, Barry won one and there was one draw. Both of Scott Ruscoe’s side’s victories came at Jenner Park, while both of our trips to Park Hall were ones to remember. In phase one, Evan Press’s first goal for the club – a bullet strike from outside of the box – secured a 1-0 win. Then in what proved to be our final game before lockdown, we drew 2-2 thanks to an Aeron Edwards own goal in second half stoppage time, having trailed 2-0 at half-time.
Due to a Welsh Government and FAW ruling, games must currently be played behind-closed-doors until stated otherwise. Your support will be hugely missed at Jenner Park, but you will be able to follow this afternoon’s fixture through live updates on our Twitter page.
Looking ahead to the game, Gavin Chesterfield said:
“The first game of the season is always exciting as all teams embark upon a new adventure. However, this year the emotions are slightly different as I didn’t expect the season to start in September. Regardless as a club we are determined to attack the season and be as competitive as ever. TNS will be formidable opponents but we have prepared well and as always we are excited by the challenge.”