Welsh Premier League
Connah’s Quay Nomads boss Andy Morrison rated Saturday’s 3-0 win at home to Barry Town United as good as any performance his team has produced this season.
The victory, secured by goals from Callum Morris, the in-form Michael Wilde and the impressive Declan Poole, moved Nomads back up to second.
And they are now strong favourites to end the first phase of the campaign in the runners-up spot with one game to go at Aberystwyth Town this Saturday (5.15pm).
Morrison said: “Three-nil and it could have been a lot more. Into 2018 and back into second place – the lads have got to take great credit.
“It was as good a performance throughout from one to 11 as we’ve had this season.
“Unluckily for them [Barry], they caught us on a really good day because where we dropped it maybe 10-15% against [Cefn] Druids - whether that was fatigue or whatever - they bounced back today.
“Every single one of them were at it from the very start.”
Morrison has been nominated for the league’s manager of the month award after leading Nomads to 13 points from a possible 18 and into the next round of the JD Welsh Cup in December.
Top-scorer Wilde is up for the player award after grabbing four goals during the month.
The former Chester FC hero now has support up front after Nomads completed the signing of Andy Owens.
The 28-year-old, who came on for Wilde against Barry, started his career at Liverpool before moving to Stoke City.
The 6ft 3in Owens has gone on to play for the likes of Southport, AFC Telford United, Marine and, most recently, Skelmersdale United.
Nomads have also handed new contracts until January 2019 to attacker Michael Bakare and goalkeeper Rhys Williams.
But Ian Kearney has been allowed to leave the club by mutual consent.
Kearney joined Nomads in June 2016 and was a vital part of their maiden European campaign, playing important roles in the ties against Stabaek of Norway and FK Vojvodina of Serbia.
However, just six games into the 2016-17 Welsh Premier League season, the defender was struck down with a knee injury that ruled him out until September last year.
Kearney has since suffered a prolapsed disc in his back that will sideline him for a prolonged period of time.
Meanwhile, director of football Jay Catton has signed a new three-year contract – as the thriving academy he has helped develop celebrates further success.
Catton, who has been with Nomads for 13 years after originally playing for the club before his career was ended by injury, said: “I am very pleased to sign a contract extension in my role at the club.
“As we continue to grow on and off the field, it has never been a more exciting time to be involved at this great club with an unbelievably exciting future ahead for all involved and the area of Connah’s Quay and Deeside.
“The opportunity to continue to work alongside first-team manager Andy Morrison was a big pull as we continue to transition to a full-time club. There are a lot of challenges and transitions ahead but this is a move which will secure the long-term stability of the club and highlights the drive and ambition which is key to progress the football club.
“On all fronts, the club continues to develop and strive for improvement in key sectors including Quay in the Community, our scholarship program with Coleg Cambria, The Quay 3G and arguably the most important sector at the football club, the Nomads Academy, aiding our next generation of players to Football League or Premier League clubs, scholars and our very own first team in the JD Sports Welsh Premier League.
“I can’t thank the club enough for this opportunity and look forward to continuing the great work alongside our outstanding staff, players and volunteers across all sectors of the football club.”
As well as assisting Morrison, Catton oversees many aspects of the Nomads Academy, which has now seen 36 players sign for professional clubs after under-14s centre-back Daniel Lloyd joined Shrewsbury Town and U12s defender/midfielder Matthew Senior was recruited by their League One rivals Bury.
Huws Gray Alliance
Airbus UK Broughton have bolstered their squad with the addition of former Stoke City youngster Curtis Strong.
The Wingmakers have signed the 22-year-old, who hails from Flint, on a dual registration from National League North side Tamworth.
Strong came through the youth ranks at Stoke and played for their under-21s team before joining Tamworth in 2015.
The Flintshire Schoolboys graduate has also had spells with AFC Telford United and Nantwich Town since leaving the Premier League Potters.
Strong will be hoping to make his Airbus debut in this Saturday’s trip to sixth-placed Guilsfield (2.30pm).
The third-placed Wingmakers were without a match last weekend.
Holywell Town and Flint Town United were in action, though.
Holywell moved up to second and above Airbus with a 1-0 win at ninth-placed Holyhead Hotspur.
Captain Steve Thomas settled the contest shortly after the start of the second half when he brought the ball down in the box before lifting it over the onrushing Paul Pritchard.
But the Wellmen, who are now just six points behind table-topping Caernarfon Town, owed as big a debt of gratitude to Shaun Pearson.
The goalkeeper saved Kenleigh Owen’s penalty when the game was goalless and made a series of other superb stops before and after it.
Holywell boss John Haseldin said: “That’s a massive three points in difficult conditions at one of the toughest away grounds in the league.
“It’s tight at the top but the table makes good reading.”
Niall McGuinness celebrated his first league victory since taking over Flint as his new-look side won 4-0 at home to FC Queens Park.
The Silkmen handing debuts to Jack Lewis, Jacob Lever and Jack Stewart.
But it was a player who is already well known to the Cae Y Castell faithful who was the star of the show.
Luke Tyson was making his final appearance for the club before leaving for Australia and fittingly he marked it with a man-of-the-match performance.
Tyson doubled the advantage after Carl Rodgers opened the scoring before Rob Jones, with the aid of a deflection, and the hardworking Alan Bull struck.
Chris Li, Matty Woodward and James Hooper have left 11th-placed Flint, who travel to 12th-placed Penrhyncoch on Saturday (2.30pm).
Holywell entertain 10th-placed Ruthin Town (2.30pm).
Welsh National League
Buckley Town will go into their big FAW Trophy fifth-round tie at home to Swansea outfit Garden Village (1.30pm) on the back of a thrilling 3-2 win at Chirk AAA that moved them up to second in the Welsh National League Premier Division.
Buckley looked to be heading for their first league loss since August when they found themselves two goals down to their fellow high-flyers.
But a 70th-minute strike from Luke Blizzard kick-started an incredible late comeback.
Paul Keenan equalised before Jake Roberts sent the 50 travelling supporters into rapture by firing in a wonderful 25-yard free kick.
The victory moved Buckley up to second and above Saltney Town, who are third following their 0-0 draw at Rhostyllen.
Harry Massey, Dave Bryan and Shaun Williams grabbed the goals as FC Nomads won 3-1 at home to Corwen.
Superb strikes from Aled Reece and Stuart Hayes could not stop Mold Alexandra from losing 3-2 at Llay Welfare.
Mynydd Isa Spartans are also in last-16 FAW Trophy action this Saturday when they entertain Cardiff side Grange Albion (1.30pm).
An under-strength Isa lost 6-0 at Llangollen Town last Saturday in Welsh National League Division One.
Castell Alun Colts (Dave Ward, Stuart Williams) won 2-0 at home to New Brighton Villa while Rhydymwyn (Gary O’Toole) earned an excellent point by drawing 1-1 at home to Cefn Mawr Rangers.
Greenfield made the perfect start to 2018 with a 6-1 success at Nantlle Vale in Welsh Alliance Division One.
And now Greenfield will look to book their place in the quarter-finals of the FAW Trophy with victory in their fifth-round tie at Wrexham outfit Brymbo this Saturday (1.30pm).
They will go into that game with confidence restored after they swept aside Nantlle Vale last Saturday.
The prolific Sam Jones marked his return to the team in style with a hat-trick while debutant Josh Parry bagged a brace after coming on. An own goal completed the scoring.
North East Wales League
Aston Park Rangers caused the shock of the afternoon in the North East Wales League on Saturday by winning 1-0 at Caerwys.
After a silence before the game to honour the memory of league secretary Mike Beech, Aston settled the contest in the 17th minute from a Scott Pringle free kick.
But they were grateful to their excellent goalkeeper for keeping Caerwys at bay.
There were defeats for Connah’s Quay Nomads Under-18s (Dan Smith), 3-1 at home to Offa Athletic, and Airbus UK Broughton Youth, 3-0 at Plas Madoc. Mostyn Dragons (Kyle Wilkes, Dean Hyland) won 3-2 at home to Brymbo Victoria in the President’s Cup.
Flintshire Junior League
Liam Moss scored five goals as Hawarden Rangers produced a superb performance to win 7-3 at previously unbeaten Queensferry Sports Flintshire Junior League Under-14s Division leaders Flint Town United.
Hawarden also benefited from a Kai Smith strike and an own goal while Dominic Deacon (2) and Matthew Walker reduced the deficit for Flint.
Mold Alex (Lewis Williams 3, Liam Hayward, Ethan Evans) won 5-2 at Deeside Phoenix (John Paul Gallagher, Ryan Macro).
Aston Park Rangers (Jake Peters, Callum Garwell, Harvey Foster, Ryan Evans, Taylor Kendrick, Jack Price, Shaun Head, Tony Lee Roberts,Jake Azimi, Rio Lovell) were 10-0 winners at home to Mynydd Isa Eagles in the U12s Division.
Holywell Town Juniors (Harrison Doleman, Luca Graham, Charlie Roberts 2, Evan Davies) strengthened second spot with a 5-1 victory at Mynydd Isa Dragons (Matty Coles).
In the U13s Division, Aleks Nowak, Sam Jakonis, Leon Bennett, Ethan Hansen, Tyler Roberts, Finley Bowhill and Louis Caine fired high-flying Deeside Dragons to a 10-0 triumph at home to Mold Alex Eagles, while Halkyn United (Keane Clarke 2, Ellis Evans, Iwan Price) also closed the gap on the top with a 4-1 win at home to Deeside Phoenix (Matty Ward).
Deven Bradley, Liam Ellis, Tyler Johnson, Matty O’Keefe, Ryan Smith and Harry Owen shared the strikes in title-challenging Flint Town Juniors’ 10-0 success at home to Deeside Phoenix in the U15s Division.
And Mynydd Isa Galaxy (Jordan Walker, Jordan Ashley, Adam Woosey 2) are up to second in the U19s Division after winning 4-1 at Borras Park Rangers.