By Ashley Cox

TRIBUTES have been paid to Barry Town's Paul Morgan, as the JD Cymru Premier outfit announced the departure of its long-serving defender in the transfer window.

A statement revealed Morgan would be leaving his hometown club after eight and a half years, a spell that saw him rack up 184 appearances, as well as five goals.

It was later confirmed the 26-year-old has agreed terms with JD Cymru South side Pontypridd Town, joining a number of his former Barry teammates at the Dragons.

Barry And District News:

Paul Morgan collects his second Young Player of the Year prize from Mike Cosslett 

Signed as a teenager after a spell on the books of Newport County, Morgan debuted for Barry as a substitute in August 2012's Welsh League Division One curtain-raiser, a 3-2 win over Cwmbran Celtic at Jenner Park, before earning his first start in a 1-0 defeat at Caerleon, three days later.

Making five starts and six appearances as a substitute that initial season, Morgan provided back-up for the first team as Town reached the 2012-13 Welsh Cup semi-finals, before showing loyalty beyond his tenure as the club fought for its survival that summer.

Once those dark clouds lifted, Morgan enjoyed 25 starts and three appearances from the bench as a rebooted Barry won Welsh League Division Three, scoring his first goal for the club in April 2014, a back-post header in the 6-1 win over Newcastle Emlyn at Jenner Park.

Man of the Match that night and other occasions that term, full-back Morgan made such an impact on Barry's Division Three championship campaign he was named Players' Player of the Season in June, as well as claiming the first of two Young Player of the Season awards.

Barry And District News:

Paul Morgan in one of his 184 appearances for Barry a 5-1 win over Afan Lido

His success continued into 2014-15, scoring in back-to-back Welsh Cup qualifying ties and making a further 25 appearances in Barry's Division Two title-winning effort, highlighted by a Goal of the Season contender in December 2014's 3-3 draw at neighbours Ely Rangers.

Back in Division One for 2015-16, Morgan would start in 33 of Barry's 36 fixtures, collecting a host of further Man of the Match accolades on the road, reaching a century of appearances at the age of 21 and featuring in the club's first televised match of the decade, a Welsh Cup showdown with holders The New Saints that drew a crowd of over 1,400 to Jenner Park.

After renewing rivalries with the Saints in the 2016-17 Nathaniel MG Cup Final, Morgan claimed his third Welsh League winners' medal as Barry lifted the Division One title, playing every minute of the Town's eight clean sheets in the final eight weeks.

Having contributed to a hat-trick of promotions, Morgan then helped Barry secure some landmark victories in the Cymru Premier, holding off Bangor City in a stunning 1-0 win at Nantporth, before marking his 150th appearance in a 1-0 triumph over TNS at Park Hall.

However, as time progressed, he would find his appearances increasingly limited, falling from a high of 23 in 2017-18 to eleven the following season, as Town finished third in the national top flight.

Nevertheless, Morgan still had time to cap an achievement-packed Barry career with a European bow, playing in the club's UEFA Europa League qualifier against Cliftonville in Belfast in July 2019.

Remaining a firm favourite of the Jenner Park faithful, Morgan helped inspire Town to a rare win at Cardiff Met's Cyncoed Stadium in December 2019, before making what would prove his farewell appearance in front of a crowd in February 2020's home defeat to Connah's Quay Nomads.

His on-field involvement this season, in games played behind-closed-doors, has been restricted to eleven minutes at Bala in October.

Commenting on Morgan's departure, manager Gavin Chesterfield said: "Paul is an unbelievable bloke and he can be proud of everything he’s achieved at the football club. Numerous trophies, numerous highlights and he’s gone all the way through the divisions with us".

"It’s disappointing to see him move on, but he deserves to play football and he’s got a good opportunity to do that, so I wish him nothing but the best".

Morgan's move to Pontypridd sees him become the latest in a line of former Barry players to sign with the Rhondda club, following the likes of Lee Baldock, Drew Fahiya, Tyrrell Webbe, Kareem Leigh, Gavin Beddard and long-time captain, James Saddler.

In other news, Chesterfield has moved to bring in a second goalkeeper, following the return of loan stopper Josh Gould to parent club Swansea City.

Lee Idzi, 32, arrives with almost 400 Cymru Premier games under his belt, having previously donned the gloves for Bangor City, Neath, Haverfordwest County and, most recently, Carmarthen Town.

A Cymru Premier and Welsh Cup runner-up, Idzi's six and half years with the Old Gold included a long-range goal scored at Aberystwyth Town on New Year's Day in 2018.

Idzi will be joined at Jenner Park by 22-year-old Rhys Kavanagh, a former Bristol Rovers forward, while 23-year-old midfielder Jamie Bird returns to the club in the transfer window from Bristol Manor Farm, filling the spot in Chesterfield's squad left by Cardiff City's Sam Bowen.

Meanwhile, striker Keyon Reffell remains a long-term injury casualty, after the former Hereford and Kidderminster Harriers man underwent UCL surgery in the past week.

With the continuation of Wales' national lockdown confirmed by the government, the earliest possible restart date for the Cymru Premier is the first weekend in March.