HOLDERS Rhyl will be without top scorer Lee Hunt and midfielder Mark Connolly as they put their North Wales Coast Challenge Cup on the line in today’s rare derby date at in-form Prestatyn Town.
Both are serving one-match bans so miss the first competitive encounter between these neighbouring clubs for more than 40 years.
“It’s a big local derby alright that has generated a lot of interest and we’re really looking forward to it,” confirmed Rhyl manager John Hulse.
And although the Lilywhites are top of the Welsh Premier League with a formidable squad at their disposal, Hulse is paying Prestatyn the compliment of treating them with the seriousness of any leading Welsh Premier opposition.
“They have done extremely well and their recent results in the Cymru Alliance League have been outstanding,” he acknowledged.
“And with so many of their players having strong connections with Rhyl over the years it will be good to meet up with old friends and familiar faces again.
“They will have our total respect and we are looking forward to a good game played in the right spirit. This is a nice cup to win and that’s what we want to achieve.”
After three weeks without a senior competitive game, other than beating a West Cheshire League representative side 5-0 last week, Hulse says his players are desperate to get out there again.
“They are relishing this chance and are determined to see our name is in the hat for the next round.”
Rhyl are on track to stretch their record to 16 Coast Challenge Cup final wins.
Prestatyn, who have won seven and drawn one of their last eight matches, will go into battle without goalkeeper John Dunt and midfielder Dale Milne.
Dunt is serving a ban after being sent off in the 2-2 home draw with Penrhyncoch last Saturday while Milne is also suspended.
In addition Prestatyn have injury concerns about accomplished striker Jonathan Fisher-Cooke and defenders Jamie Duffy and Dave Hayes.
Few of Prestatyn’s current crop of players are without past links with Rhyl, from 42-year-old veteran player-manager Dave Fuller down.
“This is what will make it such a special occasion although the suspensions and injuries haven’t helped our chances of pulling off a historic win,” said assistant-manager Martyn Jones.
Prestatyn still have prolific striker Steve Bowes, scorer of 38 goals this season, to spearhead their challenge as 18-year-old reserve Ben Rowley takes over the keeper’s shirt from the absent Dunt.
Young Rowley won’t take any motivating either: his previous club was – who else? – Rhyl.