IT has been an extremely busy transfer window so far for Huws Gray Alliance sides looking for promotion to the Welsh Premier League.
In what is expected to be the most competitive league for many years this term, reporter
Dean Jones examines the five top acquisitions so far during the window, with a host of stars set to ply their trade in the second tier when the campaign begins.
Gareth Evans (Llandudno to Caernarfon Town):
Hometown hero Evans caused a stir when he departed Tudno to join close friend Iwan Williams at The Oval, and his presence is set to be a huge asset to a squad that is primed to regain the crown they lost to Prestatyn Town last season.
The gifted midfielder played a huge role for Alan Morgan’s side and also contributed significantly to the success of Colwyn Bay when they thrived under manager Frank Sinclair, with his eye for goal and energetic style of play catching the eye on a consistent basis.
The Cofis are set to be right up with the favourites for the tip flight and having someone like Edwards to reply upon will be a key factor for a squad who struggled at times last season despite their strength-in-depth.
Shelton Payne (Connah’s Quay to Rhyl):
Manager Niall McGuinness has made a number of eye-catching signatures this season, and none more so than the attacking force of Payne.
If he has fully recovered from injury then he is going to be a huge addition to the HGA and the Lilkywhites, having accumulated a great deal of experience at WPL and English pyramid level at FC United of Manchester and Salford City.
After missing most of last season for the Nomads, Payne will no doubt be looking to make up for lost time this time around, which bodes very well for the new-look Lilies squad ahead of their promotion tilt.
Josh Davies (Rhyl to Denbigh Town):
Although he didn’t set the world alight when he signed for Rhyl last season, talented striker Davies has a proven record in the Alliance and his arrival at Central Park instantly put Eddie Maurice-Jones’ side amongst the contenders.
Davies is a lethal finisher who had a standout record at Porthmadog last season before taking his chance to perform in the WPL, and it would be a huge surprise if he did not approach 20 goals for a talented young squad that will be a difficult proposition next term.
Wes Baynes (Connah’s Quay to Airbus Broughton):
Baynes was one of a number of players to be released by Andy Morrison during the close season, which is a quick turnaround from the Nomads spending a five-figure sum to capture him from Colwyn Bay.
The Wingmakers have made a huge statement of intent so far in this window and the versatile Baynes will bring a huge amount of quality to a squad that seem to be the frontrunners to secure the title.
He will already be one of the classiest players operating outside of the top flight and it was a real coup for Airbus to acquire his signature.
Tomos Clarke (Glantraeth to Holyhead Hotspur):
The Harbourmen made everyone sit up and take notice with the signing of Clarke, who was a key contributor in Glantraeth’s double winning season at Welsh Alliance level.
Comfortable in either midfield or defence, the former Oldham trainee has an enormous amount of potential and is still just 20 despite all his experience, and his presence is going to aid Campbell Harrison’s men considerably as they look to avoid the poor start that cost them a top four finish last term.
Stefan Halewood (Rhyl to Flint Town United):
After departing the Corbett Sports Stadium due to work commitments, the former Lilies skipper becomes the latest ex-Rhyl player to sign for Aden Shannon at United, and the imposing defender is going to sure up a back line that underperformed at times last season.
This will be Halewood’s second spell with the Silkmen after turning down a number of offers from WPL clubs, and his arrival has made a talented squad looking to get their hands on the title even stronger, which could be an ominous sign for the rest of the HGA.