DIRECTOR of football Andy Preece has hailed the contribution of Tom Field, who has left the Wingmakers at his own request to join Chorley FC in National League North after three years at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium.

"Tom will go down as one of the best midfielders in Welsh Premier history," Preece says.

"Last season in the last 10 games he was the key reason we qualified for Europe, he was almost unplayable.

"I've worked with Tom for the past five seasons which has been a challenge in itself. There have been times where everyone else had given up on him and I was the only one who backed him. 

"I understand him as a person as well as a footballer and see similarities between us. Yes I've had to be tough on him and also lenient too but I know how he ticks. 

"He's been more than a player as all our lads are he is also a friend. Now I don't have to separate the two.

"He has been loyal, I can't count how many times he's been tapped up but confides in me. 

"When Bala tried to tap him up him last season with an enormous offer he stayed but the opportunity to go to Chorley at this stage of his career was something he felt he had to do.

"Chorley have a great fan base, were in the play offs last year and it's an opportunity to go back in the English system. The pull was too great which I totally understand. He will be missed, we wish him well, a great player and great friend."

The 30-year-old midfielder and set-piece specialist is a former Everton youth with experience at Leigh RMI, who joined TNS for their Uefa Cup campaign in 2005 but was then released. 

Field went on to play for Vauxhall Motors, Chester and Northwich Victoria, before returning to the Welsh Premier with Airbus UK Broughton in June 2012, when he was one of six Vics' players alongside Ryan Wade, Kyle Armstrong, Jordan Johnson, Chris Budrys and Michael Roddy to follow management duo Preece and Andy Morrison to The Airfield in January 2012.

He has since scored 25 goals from 89 (+7) WPL appearances, equalling the Wingmakers' club scoring record last season with 16 goals, a total previously reached only by the league's all-time leading scorer Marc Lloyd Williams.

Field, who was one of three nominations for the 2014/15 WPL player of the season award, also appeared in all six of the club's Europa League ties against Ventspils, Haugesund and NK Lokomotiva.

Meanwhile, Preece was delighted to welcome back Ian Kearney into the fold for the Boxing Day draw at Gap Connah's Quay.

The defender was playing his first game in 14 months after cruciate knee ligament surgery, but he was soon back in the old routine with an assured display in heavy conditions.

"Forget the result, to have our club captain back and playing the way he did in his first game was brilliant," Preece enthused. 

"I can’t speak highly enough of his performance. He’s not played for 14 months, but he’s worked so hard and it was as if he’s not been away."