By Ashley Cox

AFTER making their strongest start to a JD Cymru Premier campaign since 1997, Barry Town will look to go a seventh game unbeaten on Sunday afternoon, as Cefn Druids come to Jenner Park (2.30pm).

Last Saturday’s narrow 1-0 win at Airbus UK Broughton took Barry up to 14 points for the season so far, surpassing the tally held at this stage by the club’s last four Cymru Premier title-winning teams.

Only Gary Barnett’s acclaimed squad of 1996-97 and 1997-98 had previously negotiated their first six fixtures in the Welsh top flight without experiencing defeat, claiming 14 and 16 points respectively.

Barry’s burst from the blocks in 2019-20 sees the club sit pretty on top of the Cymru Premier table, a point clear of champions The New Saints, who welcome Town to Park Hall at the end of September.

In recognition of their start, the club has made a clean sweep of the campaign’s first awards, with Kayne McLaggon and Gavin Chesterfield named as the Cymru Premier’s Player and Manager of the Month respectively and Jonathan Hood’s winner at Penybont voted Goal of the Month for August.

McLaggon’s fine form continued in sunny Broughton on Saturday, where his 10th-minute tap-in, after sharp build-up play from Mo Touray and Sion Spence, proved enough to ground the Airbus.

Cheered to victory by their colourful travelling fans, Barry’s success was their third on their travels in three, though Chesterfield’s team would occasionally ride their luck against the division newcomers.

After Andy Owens’ opening strike had brushed the far post, the journeyman forward held off two Town defenders to set up another attempt on goal, only to send his final shot unnervingly wide.

Meanwhile, the Wingmakers would lose former Wrexham man Jake Phillips to injury, following a heavy-duty challenge from Callum Sainty, the Barry player issued with a caution for his trouble.

At one stage, Airbus appeared to have equalised, but referee Gavin Townsend disallowed their scrambled rebound for offside, after Mike Lewis had parried Kristian Pratt’s initial low free-kick.

With Owens remaining a threat for the hosts, Barry looked to stretch their slender advantage, with Spence and Drew Fahiya creating down the left and the unmarked winger finding Touray in space.

However, Touray’s strike from 12 yards flew high above the Airbus crossbar and Town were almost punished at the opposite end when Pratt saw his side-footer disallowed; Townsend decreeing Owens had fouled Lewis as the Barry goalkeeper punched away his counterpart’s up-field punt.

It all became too much for Airbus boss Steve O’ Shaughnessy, who was soon sent off to the stands, before Matthew Sargent joined his new manager on the sidelines; the 18-year old midfielder, on loan from Wrexham, shown a straight red card for a horror tackle on Barry full-back Chris Hugh.

The Wingmakers would fittingly used the wing to create one of their key chances, with Curtis Strong outfoxing Fahiya, before propelling the ball above and beyond Lewis to Owens at the back post.

Unfortunately for the Broughton boys, Curtis Watkins was on hand to clean up, though a more authoritative touch from the Airbus #9 might well have been enough to secure their equaliser.

Lewis then alarmingly spilled a Jordan Evans free-kick, but George Hughes’ volleyed rebound would be misjudged in execution, flying over the stand behind the goal and towards the Broughton airfield.

In the final minutes, Watkins freed Touray down the left, with McLaggon bombing down the centre, but Touray opted to finish things himself, only to graze the same goalpost that denied Owens earlier.

Denied a killer second, Barry would nonetheless claim another valuable JD Cymru Premier victory, finishing up as 1-0 winners on what was their first-ever visit to the multi-time European entrants.

Sunday sees more familiar foes arrive at Jenner Park, in the form of Huw Griffiths’ Cefn Druids team.

Leading their efforts will be 22-year old attacker Ramirez Howarth, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday with a stunning hat-trick in the Ancients’ eventful 3-3 draw at home to Carmarthen Town.

Howarth, who cut his footballing teeth at Blackburn Rovers, opened the scoring early against the Old Gold at The Rock, before conjuring up a pair of sensational strikes in successive second-half minutes.

Kick-off between table-topping Town and the Druids is at 2.30pm, with admission via the turnstiles at the Gladstone and Barry Road gates priced at £8 (adults) and junior/senior concessions available.

Finally, Barry were rocked this week by the six-month suspension of captain Jordan Cotterill.

Cotterill, who was dismissed in the club’s opening 2-1 win at Penybont in August, was charged by the Football Association of Wales in relation to “alleged aggressive conduct towards the match referee”.

As a result, an FAW Disciplinary Panel decided Cotterill will be unavailable for selection until 22nd February 2020, a ruling that would rule the player out of the remainder of the Phase One fixtures.

The club confirmed on Monday that it will be appealing Cotterill’s suspension.