With Michael Wilde and Greg Draper already vying for a first-team place in attack, the signing of Jamie Reed further strengthens The New Saints’ grip on the Welsh Premier League.
Having departed the warmer climes of Melbourne, 27-year-old Jamie Reed added to his extensive list of clubs by making TNS his fourth-WPL side on Monday.
Although the announcement from Park Hall was sudden, it had been clear in recent weeks that that Reed was keen on returning to the WPL, with the allure of a full-time contract with TNS proving irresistible and he will become eligible to play from January.
Reed had a number of suitors in the WPL, with former club Bangor City amongst them. TNS confirmed to me last week that Reed had been continuing to train with them – he had also trained with Airbus prior to that – and that there would be an interest in signing him should a deal be suitable for both parties. I suspect at that stage a deal was already in the pipeline but for me, the most interesting aspect of Reed’s move to TNS is where will he fit in?
Domestically at least, TNS aren’t short of firepower and as I’ve written here previously, their superiority over the rest of the league seems to be stronger than ever.
Wilde and Draper already appear to have a healthy competitive rivalry for the centre-forward spot and should the pair of them remain at the club – and maybe this is at the base of the decision to recruit Reed (I believe either of them would get into every other side in the league), it is hard to see what role Reed would have playing up-top.
The alternative is either playing deeper – a role which Alex Darlington and Matty Williams already thrive in – or as a wide player, where the Saints already boost several options, namely Ryan Fraughan, Scott Quigley and summer arrival Adrian Cieslewicz, not forgetting Ryan Edwards who was farmed out on-loan to Cefn Druids for regular playing minutes.
The situation will certainly create a selection headache for management duo Harrison and Darlington but unless it bolsters the side in European competition, there seems little need for a player like Reed given the fact TNS already have one hand on a fourth-successive Welsh Premier League title.
BALA HUNT FOR SILVERWARE
Speaking of selection headaches, the move of another well-known WPL striker is likely to create a similar issue for Colin Caton at high-flying Bala Town.
The omission of Lee Hunt from Prestatyn’s side in recent games meant this his departure came as no real surprise but his destination definitely did come out of the blue.
While Hunt is not expected to be the only senior player to be leaving Prestatyn, the aging WPL marksman returns to a rejuvenated Bala squad where it appears the switch is a good move for both club and player.
Judging him on his recent form at Prestatyn, Hunt will need to raise his game to earn a place in this Bala side, but Caton has recruited an experienced player who has long-proven track record of finding the net in the WPL.
With the Lakesiders squad already possessing Kieran Smith, Mark Connolly, Ian Sheridan and Mike Hayes, the club are on course for their most successful season in their history. Good times indeed at Bala.
BANGOR TURN TO GOULDING
Bangor City have turned to ex-player and Burscough manager Derek Goulding to revive their fortunes. Goulding, appointed assistant manager to Nev Powell, is tasked with bringing fresh impetus to Nantporth and arrives at a particularly difficult time.
The grey clouds had seemed to have lifted a little over Bangor following a credible win at Carmarthen Town at the start of the month but a crushing 5-0 defeat, where the Citizens shipped four inside 34-minutes – defeat to TNS wasn’t a surprise but the manner of it cut short the idea that Bangor were about to turn the corner.
Just how they’ll go about ‘turning that corner’ remains to be seen and fears of missing out on the top-six have now morphed into genuine fears of relegation. I don’t buy the idea that Bangor are ‘too big’ to go down. City admit they are suffering from mismanagement and there must be chronic shortage of confidence in the dressing room and as it stands, I can’t name two worse teams.
If speculation is to be believed, the club missed out on both Jamie Reed and Lee Hunt, but the need for fresh ideas and faces to arrest their run is an absolute must.
It does seem quite likely now that Nev Powell will remain in charge but questions remain as to whether Goulding was brought by Powell to assist him or appointed by the board to handle some of Powell’s current responsibilities. Essentially, is Goulding building a case to succeed Powell, should Nev and the club be able to come to a settlement on the remainder of his contract?
The fact Goulding is a former player of the club will bode well but whatever the case, the new management team need to hit the ground running and just how the club manage this crisis is going to be intriguing.
I suggested on this blog a few months ago that Bangor City were this season’s Port Talbot – side who underachieved in a mediocre campaign last year. Given their current circumstances, I think they’d gladly take that now.