THE hard work starts now for Rhyl as they look to move a swift return to the Dafabet Welsh Premier League.
Niall McGuinness’ side were officially demoted to the Huws Gray Alliance this week after Barry Town United secured promotion, and reporter Dean Jones examines the key issues surrounding the Lilywhites ahead of their pursuit of the title.
Secure a long-term goalkeeper
While both Wigan Athletic loan signings Owen Evans and Dan Lavercombe performed well between the posts, a more stable presence would be a huge benefit to the club in their quest for promotion.
As Prestatyn Town and other successful sides in the HGA have proved this term, having a reliable shot stopper takes the pressure off the rest of the team, and McGuinness will have to make sure any signing fits in with the character of the dressing room and the ethos of the club, which will go a long way to determining any success they will have next season.
Trust the process
Despite having limited resources and suffering relegation, it does not seem that McGuinness has lost the support of the board, players’ and supporters at the Corbett Sports Stadium, which bodes well for his future and their chances of an instant return to the top flight.
The youngest manager in Europe gathered a lot of media coverage when he was appointed, and although he has achieved more points than the Lilies did last term, it was not enough to save them from the drop.
It is clear that the Academy Director is very passionate about the club and he is trying to get the side to play the correct way, and hopefully these are two traits will stand them in good stead ahead of what is a huge season for a club that many believe will be sorely missed from the WPL.
Keeping the core together
The Lilywhites received a boost prior to their relegation with the news that a number of senior squad members have committed to the club next term, with the likes of Toby Jones, Oli Buckley and Alex Jones all expected to make a huge contribution in the HGA.
While that is a bonus to McGuinness, there is still plenty to sort out before the season starts in terms of getting more signed on the dotted line.
The likes of Kristian Pierce, Steve Lewis and Mike Sharples have been highly touted and it would be a huge coup for the Lilies is they agreed extensions, while also maintaining the core members of the squad to avoid any further disruption.
We have seen what happens to club’s that chop and change their squads on a regular basis, and McGuinness must make re-signing his key components a priority, which he seems to have done if recent agreements are any indication.
Cope with the competitive second tier
The Alliance is going to be more competitive than ever next season, with a host of teams in with a shout of mounting a title challenge.
Sides such as Caernarfon Town, Flint Town United and Porthmadog are expected to be among the frontrunners for the crown, while relegated Airbus UK Broughton are another that are set to spend big to ensure their stay in the HGA is a short one.
When you also count the likely promoted sides such as Glantraeth and Queen’s Park, things will not be easy for the Lilywhites and they will have to adjust to the rigours of the division instantly to avoid being put on the back foot in the early stage of the campaign.