FEATURED IMAGE: Will Cheshire
February 2021 marked the end of the winter transfer window in the JD Cymru Leagues and the clubs' final opportunity to bolster their squads for the 2020-21 season.
With change afoot in a host of clubs across Wales, we sat down with Wales C manager Mark Jones to discuss the comings and goings from the top flight of Welsh football and the impact the recruitment might have come the end of the season.
Priestley gets his Football League transfer
Towards the end of the window, Connah's Quay Nomads announced that central defender and JD Cymru Premier Young Player of the Year for 2019-20, Priestley Farquharson had joined Newport County for an undisclosed fee.
The centre-half made a big impression on the league since joining the club some 18 months ago. Under Morrison's guidance, the defender won the league title last year and Jones has heaped praise on Morrison for granting Farquharson the move to Newport.
“He’s been a kingpin at the back of Connah’s Quay’s defence. It's a bit chancey for Connah’s Quay to let their top defender go. But, I have to admire Andy Morrison for letting their top defender go to further his career in the Football League. I think it’s a fantastic move for Farquharson. I really think he’s a gem. I think he was the best defender, and that’s a big statement, in the JD Cymru Premier.”
TNS add strength to their forward line
Scott Ruscoe added some firepower to his front line in the window with the shock addition of Adam Roscrow from League One outfit AFC Wimbledon.
Roscrow made his name in the JD Cymru Premier with Cardiff Met and helped guide the side into the UEFA Europa League in his final season at the club, before securing a move to the English Football League. However, The New Saints have swooped to add the striker to their ranks ahead of the run-in of the current season as they look to win back the JD Cymru Premier title this campaign.
Jones thinks the signing of such a high calibre player in this window could be crucial come the end of the season.
“He’s a different type of centre forward to the likes of Greg Draper though. He’s an aggressive runner and he’s a good finisher. He adds a bit more power and pace. Greg is a brilliant finisher but I just think Roscrow will give TNS something a little bit different which could add to their title credentials.”
“These could be absolutely vital (signings). That’s why Morrison has brought in Doug Tharme, Johnny Hunt and Tom Moore. TNS have brought in Adam Roscrow and Bala have brought in Jack Meckreth from Warrington. But I think, at the moment, it’s a three-way title chase between the three clubs, and these signings could be win or lose signings. That’s how important they could be.”
"I think it’s been a steady transfer window. It’s an important transfer window. The main signing might have been Adam Roscrow. To bring a player of that calibre into a team at the top of the league should make the difference, so that’s a big signing."
Barry bolstered by Robbie Patten return
Barry Town United secured the services of Rhys Kavanagh, Lee Idzi and Jamie Bird in the winter transfer window, as they look to kick on from their positive start to the 2020-21 season.
Whilst the signings will add extra dynamism to the squad, Wales C manager Jones believes that the return of midfielder Robbie Patten might turn out to be the best addition they could make this season.
“It’s nice to see Lee Idzi back. He’s been a tremendous servant to the Cymru Premier. He comes from Carmarthen to oppose Mike Lewis for the number 1 spot, that’s a good contest. That’s a strong department for them now.”
“Rhys Kavanagh, ex Bristol Rovers, is a forward to join their strong forward line. The plus for Barry and Gavin Chesterfield is the return after 16 months of Robbie Patten. Their player of the season in 2016-17 has come back, that is a big signing for Chesterfield.”
Positive signs for the Cofi Army
This year has proven to be a season of change for Caernarfon Town, with it being the first full season that manager Huw Griffiths has had in charge. However, the club continue to go from strength to strength on the field in the JD Cymru Premier.
Whilst additions were few and far between in January, the return of former captain Nathan Craig and the news of manager Huw Griffiths extending his contract with the club bode well for the future, according to former Port Talbot Town and Carmarthen Town manager Jones.
“The good signing for Caernarfon is Huw Griffiths signing a new two year deal. It’s great to have stability at the club on the strength of that two year contract.”
“Nathan Craig has gone back there. He won’t let you down, Nathan. Huw Griffiths is trying to build a physical squad there with a bit of height about them. They need a dead ball expert to set up a few set piece goals. Huw Griffiths and Caernarfon Town could be the dead ball kings of the league again.”
Newtown fly under the radar
During the latest window, Newtown manager Chris Hughes utilised the opportunity to bring some familiar faces back to Latham Park for the second half of the season.
With three of the club's four signings having played in the league in the past, Jones thinks the Robins have had a successful window overall.
“Chris Hughes is the steady-eddy of the league. He’s made three great signings in the last week – Alex Fletcher is back, Lifumpa Mwandwe is back and Callum Roberts is back on loan They are three top six Cymru Premier players. So Hughes, under the radar, has had a good window.”
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