CAERNARFON Town have no qualms about stepping on to the synthetic pitch of title-chasing The New Saints at their Oswestry base today.
The Canaries, who have four away wins over TNS in 11 appearances through the years, want three points today as they hover just four points above the relegation zone.
Town boss Steve O’Shaughnessy said: “The surface will be a great deal better than our own muddy ground at The Oval and will suit our style of trying to play quality football.
“It’s encouraging that we beat TNS at their ground last season and we are upbeat again, because we have played well in recent games – except against Airbus last week – without banking the points we deserve.
“Having confidence in the playing surface should help us to get our form right again.”
Left-back Phil Doran returns after a ban and midfielder Tim Ojapah after a hamstring injury, but defender Lee Bamber is a doubt.
The Saints bid to rekindle their title challenge today under a new management team, writes John Bridgwater.
Nothing less than a victory will suffice if the defending champions, now five points off the pace, hope to lift the crown for a record equalling fourth successive time.
It represents an intriguing challenge for new coach Andy Cale who this week returned to the TNS helm after previous boss Ken McKenna ended his 10-year association with the full-timers.
Cale, who led the Saints to their first title triumph back in 2000, also worked alongside McKenna in recent seasons before stepping down last term.
He has now returned to the club as head coach, while current academy director Mike Davies will take on the role of club football development manager.
Part of Cale’s role will be to develop Davies, a former assistant boss to Darren Ryan at Newtown, to ultimately become first-team manager.
The management team will later be complimented by the addition of a player-coach.
The club are also in the final stages of signing a new sponsorship deal, which could financially equal the investment by Total Network Solutions.
Having picked up just four points from their last four outings, the Saints could soon be boosted by striker Mike Wilde, who has not played since dislocating his shoulder against Newtown last November.
Fellow front runner Alfie Carter is in the frame today after coming through a midweek outing.
Meanwhile, Newtown boss Ryan has challenged his side to bounce back after one of their worst displays of the season.
The Robins slumped 4-1 at home to Haverfordwest, which Ryan described as a “dreadful” display, but have a chance to remedy the situation at Airbus UK Broughton today.
“It was a bad day at the office, but to be fair to the lads they’ve not let me down many times this season,” said the Newtown boss. “I’ll stick with them and give them a chance to put it right, and prove to me, the supporters and most importantly themselves they can compete in this league.
“Airbus are a good passing side, but we’ve got enough in our squad to get a result there.”
Young reserve-team marksman Barry Bellis is set to start while Justin Wickham could be included on the bench after illness.
However, midfielder Glenn Tolley is again working while Mattie Lewis will have an outing with the reserves following injury.
Airbus look to continue their emergence as one of the form teams today.
The Wingmakers have banished all thoughts of relegation with 10 points from an unbeaten four-match run.
But manager Gareth Owen insists there is no time for his side to rest on their laurels as they look to continue their push towards mid-table following last weekend’s 3-0 verdict at lowly Caernarfon. Darren Wright (hernia) and Adam Hunter (ankle) are both out.