Gavin Chesterfield has been encouraged by what he has seen in Barry’s first two games of the season.
“I won’t look at the league table until we’re ten games in as a minimum, that’s something I’ve always done,” he says. “But there’s been some really pleasing things that we can build on.”
The phrase ‘a game of two halves’ was personified when Barry hosted The New Saints on the opening weekend. Chesterfield’s team matched last season’s Cymru Premier runners-up in the opening period, but conceded three goals after the break to lose the match.
“I was delighted with the first 45 minutes against TNS but really disappointed with the second 45 minutes,” Chesterfield admits. “Before we knew it the game had got away from us and we came away with a disappointing result.”
A 3-1 win over Caernarfon Town last weekend was the perfect response, as two goals from Kayne McLaggon and a bullet header from summer signing Curtis McDonald secured all three points.
“The lads trained really last week and took that into Saturday’s game,” Chesterfield says. We’re delighted with the result and to score three goals – we potentially could have scored one or two more as well.
“I’m really happy with the hunger the lads have shown and their work ethic, particularly out of possession. That will stand us in good stead if we keep that mentality.”
As well as McDonald’s goal, Nat Jarvis made his league debut against Caernarfon, while fellow new arrivals Curtis Hutson and Mikey George have impressed in both games so far. When asked about the impact of the summer signings, Chesterfield was full of praise:
“I thought Nat was a right handful on Saturday. He’s a strong runner, has genuine quality and will score goals. I thought he was unlucky not to score against Caernarfon to be honest, but his contribution to the team performance was excellent.
“The same goes for Curtis [McDonald]. He’s great for the changing room and brings a level of calmness at the back. He’ll only get better as he adapts to the way we play. Obviously it’s a great header to score following a really good delivery by Jordan, and to Curt’s credit he adds that threat from set-pieces.
“The rest of the guys we’ve brought in have been great too. Curtis [Hutson] performed really well against TNS and was probably a bit unlucky not to start again against Caernarfon. His mentality and teamwork has been excellent, and it’s the same with Mikey. It’s a long old season ahead and everyone will have a role to play.”
Due to an FAW and Welsh Government ruling, all Cymru Premier games are currently being played without fans in attendance, and Chesterfield admits that this has been difficult to get used to.
“At our level it arguably affects us more because we know our supporters by name,” he says. “We share relationships with them and they’re an essential part of this football club – always have been, always will be. We miss them like crazy. From a financial perspective it’s difficult for the club as well, so I can’t wait to welcome people back into stadiums in a safe manner.
“It has definitely affected the atmosphere at games and probably in some ways made football less emotional and a bit more sanitised. It feels like a friendly at times, so as a coach and as players, it is important that we remember that we’re playing for three points and these results and performances matter.”
Next up for Barry is a first away game of the season as we travel to newly-promoted Flint Town United on Saturday (5:45pm), live on Sgorio. Chesterfield suggests that a tough 90 minutes is in store:
“While Prestatyn won the Cymru North last season, Flint were really competitive and since then they’ve add strength, experience and quality. Niall as a manager has experience in this league previously too. We know they’ll be well prepared and well organised, but they’ll know that we will as well.
“It won’t be an easy place to go. It’s a long time since I’ve been there actually, but it’s a fresh ground for us and a chance to get another three points.”
Saturday’s game will be our first meeting with Flint since the Welsh Cup quarter-final in 2013, when Barry won 2-0 to progress to the semi-finals for the first time in a decade. Chesterfield was happy to reminisce about the victory:
“I’ve got very good memories of that day! While we lost the semi-final, that quarter-final was a really important part of our rebirth as club. If I remember rightly, Ryan Evans scored a free-kick and then Ryan Jenkins made it 2-0 with a breakaway goal, it was a fantastic day.
“It’ll be a different challenge this time though and I’m excited by what lies ahead.”