News from the Wingmakers

THE Wingmakers have beaten-off competition from at least two other Welsh Premier clubs to secure the signature of Newtown skipper Andy 'AJ' Jones, who has spent the past two seasons at Latham Park.

The 28-year-old is primarily a centre-back but can also operate effectively at centre forward when required, as evidenced by a goal haul of 10 in 55 appearances for the Robins, including a hat-trick at Prestatyn last season.

Jones was selected to attend the English Universities' squad trials while studying at Worcester University in 2008 and has also been on the books of Shrewsbury Town, AFC Telford United, Hednesford Town, Bromsgrove Rovers, Stourport Swifts and Redditch United.

He joined Newtown from Evesham United in January 2012.

"Andy is a leader who is versatile and will complement the players we already have," says director of football Andy Preece.

"A key player in Newtown's great form this season, I am sure he will be a great signing for us."

AIRBUS UK Broughton won the Flintshire derby thanks to a stoppage-time goal from Ian Kearney and returned to the top of the Welsh Premier table as rivals TNS lost at Newtown.

The Wingmakers suffered blow in the warm-up when Glenn Rule hobbled off on crutches after injuring a knee, with Mike Pearson going to right back and Phil Bolland drafted off the bench into the centre of defence.

But the Airmen made light of the disruption to take the game to Connah's Quay in the early exchanges and they were rewarded on 20 minutes when Sam Hart's shot from the edge of the box struck the ground before looping over the grasp of keeper Terry McCormick.

Danny Forde came close to an equaliser after 34 minutes when his shot hit the foot of a post before rebounding to safety before Richie Partridge fired wide at the other end.

Gary O'Toole looked to be in on goal for Nomads but had handled the ball and the half ended with another Partridge effort being cleared by Jack Riley.

The Nomads asserted more in the second half and Paul Mooney's powerful drive rattled the crossbar on 52 minutes.

With the hosts looking more likely to score it was no surprise when they levelled just past the hour mark, a breakway finding former Wingmaker Mike Hayes, who coolly slotted into the corner past keeper James Coates.

Home player-manager Mark McGregor headed just wide from a Mooney free-kick but Hayes headed tamely at Coates from another opening.

Airbus reorganised with sub Tom Williams partnering Chris Budrys up-front, but a winner looked unlikely until the hosts made a mess of clearing their lines and Ian Kearney followed-up to gleefully ensure Hart's shot, which had hit a post, crossed the line.

There was still time for Nomads to mount a final attack from which Danny Desormeaux fired over from a good position as Airbus reversed last season's New Year's Day result at the Deeside Stadium.

Below: Lewis Short celebrates with goal scorer Sam Hart.

DIRECTOR of football Andy Preece hailed Saturday's 2-0 Welsh Premier victory over Afan Lido as "massive" with a squad again depleted by suspensions and injuries.

Tom Field and Ian Kearney were banned, while Steve Abbott picked-up an injury in training to join Lee Owens and Steve Jones on the treatment table.

"Lido came here on the back of three wins and it's never easy in these conditions, but the early goal settled us down and knocked a bit of belief out of them," Preece said.

"It was a massive win as we had five players out and were down to just 11 fit players and four of those were carrying injuries.

"But they out their bodies on the line and I can't praise them highly enough.

"For the last four or five games we've been really stretched, but we've managed to keep picking up points.

"It's been a fantastic effort and we're still just two points behind TNS."

Below: Ryan Wade on the attack for the Wingmakers.

THE Wingmakers missed-out on the chance TNS at the top of the table as they surrendered a two-goal lead to draw at Newtown's Latham Park.

Within four minutes Airbus had struck the woodwork when Tom Field’s free-kick clipped the bar, following a touch from goalkeeper Chris Mullock. From the resulting corner, Sam Hart headed over as the Wingmakers made a strong start.

On 17 minutes Airbus took the lead when Hart fed Field on the edge of the area, and he found the left corner with a low right-foot shot to put the Wingmakers 1-0 up. It had been an even game until the goal, so it was important that Wingmakers gained the advantage.

Despite Field being fouled inside the area on 27 minutes, the Wingmakers were only awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. From the set-piece Field struck the bar again, with the rebound eventually being turned in on the goal-line by Ian Kearney. Airbus were now 2-0 up and suddenly in full control, with the hosts having only had a couple of tame efforts on target.

Mike Pearson picked up a harsh yellow card for a push on former Wingmaker Matty Cook after 36 minutes, and shortly after Field earned a booking for dissent. The cards kept coming as Newtown’s Kieran Mills-Evans was also booked for a foul on 40 minutes.

The Wingmakers’ Glenn Rule was next in the book on 43 minutes for a trip on Matthew Hearsey. From the resulting free-kick on the corner of the area, Craig Williams curled a low shot inside the near-post to make it 2-1, bringing Newtown back into the game on the stroke of half-time.

The second-half began as competitively as the first finished, with Craig Williams going close with another free-kick for Newtown on 51 minutes. Ten minutes later Williams was booked for a foul on Lewis Short as heavy rain and strong winds affected the overall quality of the game.

The hosts began to enjoy a spell of pressure and this would soon pay dividends. On 65 minutes Matthew Hearsey struck the post before moments later, Andy Jones made it 2-2, grabbing the equaliser for Newtown with a glancing header into the far corner from just yards out.

A minute later, Mike Roddy lifted a shot over the bar, as the Wingmakers tried to get back in front straight away. With 20 minutes to go, Newtown’s Craig Williams curled another free-kick narrowly wide.

With quarter of an hour remaining, the Wingmakers’ Mike Roddy was booked before the first changes of the game were made. For Newtown Jeff White replaced Sean Evans, while Airbus introduced Tom Williams in place of Ryan Wade with 10 minutes to go.

As the game reached the latter stages, Newtown enjoyed chances but were unable to apply the finish. With four minutes to go Sam Hart dragged an effort just wide for Airbus, and Mike Roddy saw a shot deflected off-target as the game finished with end-to-end action.

Ultimately neither side could find the winner and had to settle for a point. While the Wingmakers will be disappointed to have let a 2-0 lead slip, and miss the chance to draw level with TNS, a point away at a resilient Newtown still has to be viewed as a good result.

by Rory Sheehan

Below: Kearney and Mike Pearson celebrate with the Airbus support.

THE Wingmakers maintained their momentum going into the Christmas period with a 2-0 home game against strugglers Afan Lido.

Despite a strong swirling wind working against them, the Wingmakers made a brilliant start as Sam Hart gave them a 1-0 lead with a header at the back-post after only a couple of minutes. The wind made conditions difficult for both teams early on, and even simple short passes became difficult.

On 20 minutes Glenn Rule curled a free-kick narrowly wide with the Wingmakers fairly in control of the game. Minutes later Chris Budrys took advantage of a lapse in the Lido defence on the edge of the six-yard box, placing his shot to put the Wingmakers 2-0 up and cruising.

The visitors offered little going forward with chances at a premium overall. Half-time arrived with Airbus 2-0 up, and looking comfortable against the league’s bottom club. The second-half picked up where the first one left of with both teams battling the conditions but the Wingmakers having the better of it.

Afan Lido were the first side to make a change on 54 minutes with Garyn Preen replacing Alex Gammond. Just past the hour-mark Lido’s task got even tougher after Gareth Phillips was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Phil Bolland.

As the game wore on the Wingmakers increased the pressure on Lido. Ryan Wade caused problems as did set-pieces with the visitors struggling to clear their lines. With just over quarter of an hour to go the Wingmakers introduced Tom Williams in place of Richie Partridge.

Mike Roddy blazed over from the edge of the area with 13 minutes as Airbus looked to increase their lead. Lido then made their next change with Owen Williams replacing Scott McCoubrey. With 10 minutes to go, Chris Budrys fired in another effort on goal which just missed the target.

With seven minutes to go a turn and shot from Casey Thomas was held by James Coates at the near-post, the move representing Lido’s best effort of the afternoon. The Wingmakers’ Sam Hart was then booked for a late challenge a minute later.

A well-struck long-range effort from James Owen was parried by Lido goalkeeper Craig Richards with five minutes to go, but after putting away the rebound Chris Budrys saw his strike ruled out for offside.

Lido’s Ian Hillier was booked for a foul on Glenn Rule with just a few minutes to go before Budrys saw an attempt deflected wide. That proved to be the last action of the game as it petered out scrappily.

The game was far from a classic largely due to the conditions, but the Wingmakers were rarely troubled throughout the game. At this stage of the season the points are all that matter and the Wingmakers did a professional job to secure them.

by Rory Sheehan

Below: Chris Budrys volleys home the second goal.

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