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Season review: Wales

Published: Friday 15 May 2009, 10.53CET
Rhyl FC won the second league title in their history, Bangor City FC took the cup while Europe beckons for Llanelli AFC and The New Saints FC as uefa.com sets a final seal on the 2008/09 domestic season in Wales.
by Trevor Haylett
Season review: Wales
Wales' all-time top scorer Marc Lloyd-Williams left Rhyl for Porthmadog in mid-season ©www.welsh-premier.com
Published: Friday 15 May 2009, 10.53CET

Season review: Wales

Rhyl FC won the second league title in their history, Bangor City FC took the cup while Europe beckons for Llanelli AFC and The New Saints FC as uefa.com sets a final seal on the 2008/09 domestic season in Wales.

The Welsh Premier League will be reduced from 18 clubs to ten from the start of the 2010/11 season, following a decision by the Football Association of Wales. In the penultimate season with the 18-club format, Rhyl FC and Bangor City FC took the top prizes.

Champions: Rhyl FC
Rhyl took the crown for only the second time in their history and finished the season in style, winning 17 and drawing one of their final 18 league games. Manager Allan Bickerstaff, in his first season in charge, saw the Lilywhites take 90 points from 34 games, the highest total since Barry Town FC won the league with 104 points when it was a 20-team competition. Llanelli AFC were seven points behind in second place.

Cup final: Bangor City FC 2-0 Aberystwyth Town FC
Bangor retained the Welsh Cup and hailed a hero in Les Davies. The centre-forward hurt his knee in a first-minute fall but decided to play on and proved the matchwinner for the north Wales club, scoring the opening goal just before half-time and then laying on the second for man-of-the-match Christian Seargeant early in the second half.

European places:
Rhyl – UEFA Champions League, second qualifying round
Llanelli – UEFA Europa League, first qualifying round
The New Saints FC – UEFA Europa League, first qualifying round
Bangor City – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round

Player of the Year: Gareth Owen (Rhyl)
The midfielder proved a shrewd signing as he helped Rhyl to their first championship triumph in five years. The 37-year-old topped a poll of Welsh league managers with 56 points, eight ahead of team-mate Neil Roberts.

One to watch: Lee Idzi (Haverfordwest County FC)
With Idzi between the posts, seventh-placed Haverfordwest conceded just 39 goals in 34 league games, the best record outside the top three sides. He joined Haverfordwest in August 2007 and was capped by the Welsh semi-pro team the following May. Named the Welsh Premier Young Player of the Year, he was also voted into the Team of the Season by league managers.

Surprise package: Port Talbot Town FC
They looked in trouble after winning just four of the first 16 league games but recovered stylishly following manager Mark Jones's return in December, posting 12 wins in their remaining 18 fixtures to finish fifth.

Leading scorer: Rhys Griffiths, Llanelli (31)

Number: 302
Marc Lloyd-Williams took his all-time record goals tally in the top flight to 302 after scoring eleven times for Porthmadog FC.

Quote
"We have invested in better players and this is the result. Allan [Bickerstaff] has changed our training methods and as a result fitness levels have improved and we have suffered few injuries." Rhyl managing director Dave Milner

Last updated: 17/05/09 14.55CET

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