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Rhyl manager Gareth Owen has vowed to stick with his squad despite suffering a double blow in their Welsh Premier relegation fight.
On Friday, the Lillywhites learned they had lost out in their bid to sign ex-York City and Chester striker Jamie Reed, who has joined high flying Llandudno. Then, a former Belle Vue favourite gained revenge on his former club, when Steve Lewis scored a debut hattrick in a 4-3 win for Bangor City.
That leaves Rhyl five points from safety in the Play Off Conference with nine games to go and a winless streak stretching back to October – an early Welsh Cup exit also means they’re without a game next weekend as the fourth round takes pride of place.
But despite the many setbacks that have plagued the Lillywhites from the start of the season, Owen remains adamant that he will lead the club to safety, pointing towards his own experience when Wrexham recovered to avoid relegation from the old Fourth Division back in 1992.
He told the Rhyl Journal: ”People ask would you ever jack it in. It’s not in me to do that…It’s a situation I’m used to. No-one can afford to look at others in the dressing room to do it for them. Everyone out there needs to know, we are all taking responsibility for our performances. If we perform like that and stop making silly mistakes, we can stay in the league.”
Owen has added some promising blood within the January transfer window. While the pre-season arrival of ex-Wrexham marksman Dean Keates has been viewed poorly by some, Zac Corbett paid dividends from the start with an equaliser at Carmarthen. Their latest signing, Josh Gordon (previously of Nantwich Town), was unveiled late on Monday to bolster the attack.
But there remains disappointment that their offer for Reed, an ex-Lillywhite who scored 20 goals in two years with the Minstermen, was simply outpriced by the growing Dudno empire. Meanwhile, some fans have long called for the return of the ‘Beast’ – Steve Lewis – whose past reputation for bad behaviour led to Rhyl releasing the striker in 2014.
Their next big test in the relegation race will be at home to Aberystwyth on Friday 12th February. To fill the gap, the Lillywhites have agreed to a mid-season friendly this Thursday away at Llandudno. Kick off at Maesdu Park is at 7.45pm with £2 entry for adults and 50p for children.