Bangor City are believed to be on the verge of announcing their first signing of the post-season after Airbus UK director of football Andy Preece revealed left-back Sam Hart is to move to the Citizens; the Wingmakers have also released four players, notably including Steve Jones.
Airbus have been quick to announce their first squad changes ahead of their Europa League campaign. According to an announcement made on the club’s official website last Wednesday, the most notable names to be confirmed as leaving were that of Sam Hart and Steve Jones.
Hart is poised to switch to Bangor City after an excellent season at the Airfield, where I believe he was the best left-back in the Welsh Premier League last season, despite deputising for Lewis Short, who spent much of the campaign on the injury list.
The signing of 22-year-old Hart is a real coup for Bangor City. He cast an assured figure for Airbus last season and his expected arrival is the latest stage Nev Powell’s rebuilding of the City defence.
Last season saw young right-back Declan Walker, 22, make a real name for himself in his first season in the WPL, while Anthony Miley, just 21, formed an encouraging central defensive partnership with Michael Johnston in his debut campaign. First-choice full-back Chris Roberts managed just 17 WPL starts last season so competition for the left-back spot will certainly be increased with the signing of Hart.
While Airbus were resigned to losing Hart after being unable to match Bangor City’s offer (the official line from Andy Preece at least), the departure of veteran Northern Irish international Steve Jones will take some replacing.
Jones has agreed to join his local club Nantwich Town and his decision to leave the Airbus is a real loss to both his club and the league. Though injury hampered his only season in the WPL,when fit his quality was clear to see but we only got to see flashes of it in the early and latter stages of the season. When at full-fitness he found himself to be the creative hub of the Airbus side playing off the left or as a traditional ‘number-10’. Though he missed a large chunk of action in the middle of the season, I was expecting a fully-fit Jones to make a big impact on the league next season despite his advancing years.
The exit of another attacking figure was confirmed by Airbus, with Steve Abbott moving to Australia after being forced to play a bit-part role behind Chris Budrys, while he is also followed out by Jason Oswell. The winger saw his chances restricted following his move to Airbus in the January transfer window and I would not be surprised to see him make a quick return to former club Rhyl.
The departures of Jones, Abbott and Oswell will leave Andy Preece short of numbers in the forward department. There is absolutely no way Airbus will commence next season with a weaker squad than they assembled this year and I fully expect the Wingmakers to add a quality signing to bolster their forward line in advance of their European fixtures.
Finally Oxford, Chester and Peterborough defender Phil Bolland announced his retirement from the game after just managing a handful of appearances with Airbus last season, while the club did confirm the arrivals of Cymru Alliance duo Jordan Barrow and Johnny Spittle from Caernarfon Town and Llandudno respectively. Both are of an unknown quantity to me, so it remains to be seen how heavily they’ll figure as ambitious Airbus look to fine tune their squad over the forthcoming weeks.