Bangor City announced their new manager yesterday evening as Ian Dawes was appointed as Andy Legg’s successor.
As I wrote on Wednesday, Bangor’s new consortium turned to Dawes to replace Legg, who unexpectedly left the club this week, as the board look to restructure the club as they prepare to go full-time next season.
This will be the 32-year-old’s first management post in the WPL but he is no stranger to the league having previously played for Caernarfon. Speaking to Dave Jones at the Daily Post, Dawes confirmed he’s been keeping tabs on the league and has a clear expectation in mind: “I’ve been able to watch not just Bangor but a few other teams in the Welsh Premier League, but looking at the players we’ve got we’re going to be confident in saying it’s in our hands to go and finish in the European places, it’s more than achievable.”
Having spoken to Bangor this week, it’s quite clear that the club see a return to European football as an essential prerequisite as they prepare to transition into a full-time organisation next season and that third place will be their minimum expectation this season. The league is now shaping up so that beyond TNS, there are at least three teams challenging for the two automatic European qualification places and a contest between Bangor, Connah’s Quay and Bala Town appears to be developing for those two places as we head into the second phase of the season. I expect Bangor City will again invest in strengthening their squad in the January transfer window where Dawes will little time to find his feet going into a very competitive Championship Conference.
I do not expect Airbus manager Andy Thomas to be relishing his side’s visit to Park Hall tonight. His side, now bottom of the table, have crashed to four successive defeats and have been comfortably beaten by both Cardiff Met and Rhyl in recent weeks. The Airbus boss has a difficult task on his hands in getting to his side out of this slump with his hands tied by a number of team selection worries.
You can expect TNS to be chomping at the bit as they look to go one better after equalling Bangor City’s winning record last weekend and Craig Harrison will be demanding his side go one better and put their name into the record books with an incredible 16th-straight WPL win. Airbus, who not too long ago were the side closest to challenging TNS’s dominance, must somehow find a way to prevent that tonight.
Thomas has already lost his captain after central defender Paul Connolly joined Bangor City recently and he must now face the Saints without fellow defenders Tom Matthews and talented left-back Matty McGinn. On top of that – with his side already struggling for goals – last season’s leading scorer Tony Gray is also ruled out after his dismissal last week. The Airbus squad is looking thin on the ground and should Thomas’ Wingmakers find a way to break TNS’s winning cycle, then it will have to go down as one of the results of the season.