Haverfordwest County manager Wayne Jones believes the goalscoring prowess of his young side can cause a JD Welsh Cup upset when 2017 winners Bala Town visit the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium on Saturday (2.30pm).
The West Wales side are challenging for the Welsh League Division One title as the current highest scorers in the league, and have recently added experienced striker Kaid Mohamed to their ranks. Mohamed scored a brace for Carmarthen Town in the 2007 final to help his side lift the trophy before embarking on a professional playing career, and Jones is confident the Bluebirds will make things difficult for Lakesiders this weekend.
“We’ve done our analysis on them and we are confident that we can get a result on Saturday,” explained Jones to FAW.cymru. “We’re scoring goals, and as long as we aren’t overawed by the occasion and play our own game, we can cause them problems. But we also know that Bala Town are a top side.”
Having played for Haverfordwest County in Europe during his playing career, Jones returned to the club last summer as assistant to manager Sean Cresser having spent a couple of seasons in the JD Welsh Premier League coaching at Aberystwyth Town. Following Cresser's departure in September, Jones took over the helm for a second time, and his side currently sit in second place behind leaders Penybont.
“The structure was already in place and the players have adapted well to the changes in their roles and responsibilities,” explained Jones about his appointment. “We have goals in abundance, and the likes of Dan Williams and Ben Fawcett have been scoring in all competitions this season. The gulf between the Welsh League and the JD Welsh Premier League is massive, but we have players with the potential to step up to that level, or even higher.”
Haverfordwest County have already taken on two teams from the JD Welsh Premier League this season in the Nathaniel MG Cup, and while they cruised to a 3-0 win over Llanelli in the opening round, the gulf that Jones talks about was more than evident in the 6-0 reverse against eventual winners Cardiff Met in the last eight. However, the side head into Saturday's match against Bala Town in fine form, and have scored over 20 goals in their last six games.
Swansea City legend Lee Trundle was a headline signing for the club in the summer, but departed earlier this month. “Lee was great for us on and off the field and scored some invaluable goals,” said Jones. “We brought Kaid (Mohamed) in for his experience and his presence. He’s a calming influence in the dressing room which has been important as we have a very young squad. We have a number of teenagers playing regularly for us, and it’s credit to these young players that we’re doing so well.”
Jones was assistant manager at Aberystwyth Town when they reached the JD Welsh Cup final last season, but his side suffered a 4-1 defeat against Connah's Quay Nomads. Likewise, Jones found himself on the losing team as a player in the 1998/99 final, as Inter CableTel defeated his Carmarthen Town side on penalties at Penydarren Park. The former defender will now be looking to make amends and create some better JD Welsh Cup memories this season.
While the challenge of Bala Town will be tough, the blend of youth, form and experience in his Haverfordwest County side more than makes for an intriguing cup tie. “The league is the main priority for us,” he added. “But a good run in the JD Welsh Cup can be great for the club. It's a bonus, but in terms of continuity, it’s important for us to keep our undefeated run going too.”
WATCH: Preview as Llangefni Town prepare for their JD Welsh Cup match against Llandudno.
JD Welsh Cup 2018/19 Round 4 Draw
Carmarthen Town v Connah’s Quay Nomads
Haverfordwest County v Bala Town
Bangor City v Caernarfon Town
Barry Town United v Cefn Druids
Airbus UK Broughton v The New Saints
Cambrian & Clydach Vale BGC v Rhyl
Aberystwyth Town v Cardiff Met
Llangefni Town v Llandudno
Ties to be played over the weekend of 25/26 January