Connah’s Quay Nomads lead the JD Welsh Premier League at present and this Saturday they welcome the reigning champions TNS to Deeside for a clash that will have huge implications for this exhilarating title race.
We caught up with Nomads boss Andy Morrison this week to preview Saturday’s showdown.
“We’re pleased, of course, with where we are this year in terms of our progression. We got to the semi-final of the Nathaniel MG Cup and were knocked out by Cardiff Met, we’re in the semi-final of the JD Welsh Cup now and the final of the Irn Bru Cup too … and we’re sat on top of the league at present, so obviously we’re doing something right.
“Our expectations are to challenge on all fronts, to close the gap between us and TNS. When Craig Harrison was the manager there was a World Record established by TNS, and the points gap that season was huge, but now we lead the race at this point.
“What you’re seeing now is a team that is closer to TNS than it has ever been and we don’t intend to settle for that, we tend close that gap completely and then go beyond it.”
It is a massive game in the title race, with two of the three hopefuls involved, but with at least five league games left for each of the title-chasing teams after this weekend, whilst this game will undoubtedly play a role in deciding where the title ends up, it probably won’t be decisive, with so many difficult games to come for all teams.
Certainly for Morrison, he says he’ll feel under no more pressure than usual when it comes to kick-off on Saturday.
“The ‘pressure’ of needing to get a result comes with every game I think, and certainly I’ll feel under no more pressure than I did to win the game against Caernarfon last week.
“Every game comes with pressure at Connah’s Quay, we need to win, we need to be successful, so every game – whether we’re playing the team at the bottom of the league or against TNS we go against things in exactly the same way and the aim is to win the game.
“Barry have got games in hand as well, Barry have got TNS at home and have got to come to us, so it is definitely a three-horse race and of course Saturday will play it’s part I deciding where this title will go, but it won’t be the deciding factor because every game is tough now. It’s all to play for and all set up for a great occasion on Saturday afternoon.”
Both teams have won one game each against each other this season, as the Nomads were victorious at Deeside in the first clash between these two sides this year whereas Ruscoe’s champions won 3-0 in the return fixture at Park Hall.
The latter game showed TNS at their clinical best, as they took their chances at key moments in the game to condemn Connah’s Quay to defeat, and Morrison reflected on that fixture as well as outlining how proud he has been of his team in bouncing back from that result.
“We lost the game 3-0 and I’ll never try and sugar-coat a defeat like that, but anyone who watched the game will know that 3-0 is never a reflection of the game and key moments of the game changed it in their favour, you know.
“We dominated for large periods of the game, but history is written by the victorious and we lost the game so that’s it, we took it on the chin and moved on.
“We’ve never dropped our standards, we’ve maintained a very high level all season and we’ll treat this game exactly the same. The preparation has been meticulous, the training has been at a higher level this week than I’ve ever seen at the club with the intensity, the aggression and desire, which makes me feel great ahead of the game.”
That clinical edge is what Morrison is hoping his Nomads have on their side come Saturday evening, as he argues chances are few and far between against the reigning champions.
“I think the fact that teams don’t have a go at them is because of the way they play, they have a system that puts pressure on other teams continuously and when they have the ball they play a possession-based game and they press high up the pitch, so opportunities for other teams to get at them are few and far between.
“In my time here I’ve seen that when you do get at them and you do get in the box and you do ask questions of them there is always an end-product and there will always be opportunities for you to score, but those chances are few and far between so you have to be clinical.
“Taking your chances is the secret at any level of football, your results will reflect how many chances you create and how many you put away.”
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