Cwmbran Celtic manager Lee Challenger and his side will be out to cause one of the upsets of the season on Saturday when they entertain The New Saints in the 3rd round of the JD Welsh Cup (1.30pm).
The Welsh League outfit exited the competition at this stage last season with a 3-0 defeat against eventual winners Connah’s Quay Nomads, and Challenger is convinced his side are better for the experience as they prepare to take on their full-time opponents.
“It was really good for me and the players to test ourselves against a team as good as Connah's Quay last season,” Challenger explained to FAW.cymru earlier this week. “I don't know what we've done to draw another top side like The New Saints this year, but you want to play against the best teams, and I'm sure it will be a great occasion. I'm really looking forward to it and I know the players are too.”
Cwmbran Celtic have had something of a mixed bag of results this season, highlighted by a respective victory and defeat against title contenders Haverfordwest County and Penybont in their last two games. But the manager is pleased with the start that they have made after a dozen league games, and has seen enough from his squad, and an addition to his backroom staff, to head into the second half of the campaign with optimism.
“I'm pleased that we've made a pretty solid start,” he explained. “I think a good start to the season is crucial in this division. We brought in Nana Baah as assistant manager in the summer and he has taken some of the pressure off me. We're working well together, and we have the same realistic aims for the team. He knows everyone in the Welsh League and he's been a massive help.”
Matches like this are for all the volunteers who work hard for the club and also for the players who have been involved here for a long period. As for the result, we'll see what happens on the day.
Respective 3-0 and 3-1 victories over Ammanford and Sully Sports in the previous rounds of the JD Welsh Cup have booked Cwmbran Celtic this attractive tie, while Josh Bull and Chris Ham are leading the goalscoring charts for the team this season. However, it is the cup performances of another Welsh League side that has offered hope to every club looking to cause an upset this weekend.
Cambrian & Clydach's recent win over The New Saints in the Nathaniel MG League Cup semi-final was their fourth scalp from the JD Welsh Premier League on their way to reaching the final this season, and Challenger highlighted the impressive results of their Welsh League rivals in assessing their chances this weekend, having seen their latest conquest first-hand.
“I was at Cambrian a couple of weeks ago when they beat TNS,” he explained. “You could see how much they were up for it and how much it meant to them. I was pleased for them, but I'm sure TNS will come here with a point to prove after that. We're lucky enough in that we can watch clips of all their games online, something that they can't do on us, and I'm sure that has helped Cambrian this season too. But I don't think that will come down to being the difference on the day.”
But the ambitions for Cwmbran Celtic stretch further than causing an upset in the JD Welsh Cup, and recent ground improvements at their Celtic Park home are testament to the tireless work of those behind the scenes. “Matches like this are for all the volunteers who work hard for the club,” Challenger added. “And also for the players who have been involved here for a long period, and all the people that pull together. As for the result, we'll see what happens on the day.”
JD Welsh Cup Round 3 – All kick-offs 2.30pm unless stated
Friday, 7 December 2018
Bangor City v Holyhead Hotspur (7.45pm)
Barry Town United v Penybont (7.45pm)
Prestatyn Town v Caernarfon Town (7.45pm)
Saturday, 8 December 2018
Airbus UK Broughton v Porthmadog
Briton Ferry Llansawel v Llandudno
Cwmamman United v Aberystwyth Town (1.30pm)
Cwmbran Celtic v The New Saints (1.30pm)
Denbigh Town v Cambrian & Clydach Vale BGC
Flint Town United v Bala Town (7.30pm – Live on S4C Sgorio)
Goytre United v Carmarthen Town
Guilsfield v Connah’s Quay Nomads
Haverfordwest County v Pontypridd Town
Llangefni Town v Llanelli Town
Newtown v Rhyl
Ton Pentre v Cardiff Met
Ynysddu Welfare v Cefn Druids
The draw for Round 4 of the JD Welsh Cup will be live on S4C as part of the Heno programme on Monday, 10 December.