We caught up with the manager of the visiting team, and the side sat a point adrift of seventh, Aberystwyth Town’s Matthew Bishop, ahead of Saturday’s game. Read on to find out more.
“Christian has done a great job at Cardiff Met, he’s very shrewd and has great experience in the game from his playing days which he has brought into management with him.
“He has forged a way of playing there which is successful, they’ve got some great players there, very fit, they train on a regular basis, and they’ve got some great facilities and resources.
“They’re a difficult team to play against, but we’re really looking forward to the challenge.
“I think the league is developing exactly how we want it too, in that the standard is improving every year and the gap from top to bottom is closing. Whoever gets into that seventh spot is going to find it hard in the playoffs, but the playoffs this year will be so difficult whoever gets there. The next two games are most important, and Saturday is massive for us – let’s see where we go from there.”
Having had a positive and constructive spell at the helm of the Park Avenue club previously, Bishop retook the hotseat in Ceredigion recently and finds the club in a different position to where he left it.
The manager spoke about how his taking over the team has been in somewhat unusual circumstances, and outlined the work he has done so far.
“It has been a bit of a strange one, because when usually when a new manager comes in the team has been struggling, but Aberystwyth have been doing very well so I haven’t really had to come in and do very much straight away, I haven’t had to change anything.
“Nev and Gav have been doing a very good job, and the players have really stepped up. The squad has been on a great run since Christmas and we’re looking to end the season strongly to carry on that good form.
“Really it’s been more like a watching brief than making changes, because we don’t really need to change anything as nothing is broken. The squad isn’t the biggest, which brings it’s own challenges, but the challenge that Cardiff Met are going to throw at us now is different to what we’ve faced so far.
“No team wants to lose, and whoever wins is probably going to get that playoff spot, so it’ll be interesting to see how both teams approach it and I think we’re in for a great tactical battle between us and them.”
A vastly experienced coach, Bishop’s first stint in charge of Aberystwyth came at probably one of the most interesting times of the club’s recent history.
With a 3G pitch being installed at Park Avenue, a squad to rebuild from scratch and 12 away games in a row to start the season, it was an interesting time for the club and Bishop discussed guiding the club through that time and the evolution he feels the club has undergone since.
“That year I was in previously was always going to be one of the most challenging for the club in a long time. We didn’t play a home game until October because of waiting for the 3G pitch to be finished, didn’t have anywhere to train properly in the summer and basically had to rebuild the whole team and start again as a club.
“The challenge at the time when I was there, and it still is now, revolves around how you build on the legacy that developing a new facility like we were doing at the time gives you the opportunity to build.
“The money now that is going to be coming into academies is a great thing, and it will help us develop that legacy, because it puts the onus on clubs to develop their own homegrown talent and that’s something I feel very strongly about – we have to develop those young players to grow the game in Wales and improve the standards of the game in Wales, which have come on a lot in recent years.
“Especially for a club like Aberystwyth, where we’re based. Our academy is doing very well, Bari Morgan has done a fantastic job there so things are moving forward, but we’ve got to keep evolving and ultimately the next step is to continue to do that and get into the top six, before going on from there again.”
The young players at Aberystwyth have been a real highlight this year, with Matthew Jones and Lee Jenkins in particular standing out for the side and contributing to many key moments of the season.
Jones was called up the Wales ‘C’ squad back in March, too, and Jenkins has represented the Wales Academy sides, and their manager gave a glowing appraisal of the potential of both, whilst outlining the way forward for the club incorporating the development of those youngsters and others.
“Matthew and Lee are examples of two players who have really come in and grasped their opportunities, absolutely, and I think that’s what we want more of, and I think Welsh football needs more of that.
“There’s nothing more exciting than having young players coming through and breaking into the first team to establish themselves. Matthew has certainly done that, he’s had a good grounding in the game and had good experience in Shrewsbury.
“He’s grasped the opportunity to play first team football and it’s helped develop him into the player he is. Lee is in a similar situation, he’s very young, he still has a lot to learn, but he’s very strong and can only improve. We want more players like those, because they’re the future of the club, and we’re working hard to develop them.
“If you go back through the years, the club has had and produced a large number of good, local Welsh Premier League players, and for us to achieve our goals we have to get back to doing that on a more regular basis.”
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