Carmarthen Town boss Mark Aizlewood relishing Premier test
CARMARTHEN Town have declared they are in "with the big boys" after the dispute between Connah's Quay and the Welsh Premier League was resolved.
The Old Gold initially thought they had missed out on a place in the Welsh Premier League Championship, before it emerged the Nomads had been docked a point for fielding an ineligible player.
Connah's Quay were set to appeal the decision and leave Carmarthen's position and their own in limbo but, following consultation with the Football Association of Wales, they decided not to make an appeal.
"We are with the big boys now," said Carmarthen manager Mark Aizlewood.
"Being in the top six means a huge challenge for our club. When you look back 14 months and compare it to where we are today, it is like chalk and cheese.
"When I took over in January 2012, Carmarthen Town Football Club was sinking fast.
"We were odds-on for relegation and had not even gained a single point away from home.
"Now, with an excellent management team and a group of players who give their all, we are in the Championship Conference top half of the league."
Carmarthen, who host Bangor City on Saturday, have already won a trophy this season, having been crowned Word Cup champions following a thrilling penalty shootout triumph over The New Saints last month.
Their next challenge will be to take on the Welsh Premier League's leading clubs on a regular basis in the Championship — and Aizlewood is relishing the task.
"The club has won silverware and is in the quarter-finals of the Welsh Cup," he added.
"Now we will be playing the best teams the league can offer. My players deserve a pat on the back for the season so far.
"It will be highly competitive playing the likes of Bangor City, The New Saints and Airbus Broughton. Being with the big boys makes us full of confidence and as a coach I'm aware that we can compete against them.
"However, in reality I must say that any single point we get playing against these teams will be a bonus.
"I fully expect us to finish in sixth position and already I, along with coach Neil Smothers, am preparing for early May when we will, in all probability, play the top team of the Conference in a Europa League qualifying play-off match.
"We are where we are. We have ten more league games to get ourselves ready for May. I know the players won't let me down and they are looking forward to the challenge."