By Ashley Cox

BARRY Town will welcome fans to a competitive fixture for the first time in almost 18 months when Llanelli come to town in the Nathaniel MG Cup this Saturday.

With Covid-19 regulations keeping supporters locked out for the entire 2020-21 season, this weekend’s knock-out date with the Reds will be Barry's first meaningful match at Jenner Park in front of a paying crowd since a 1-1 draw with Caernarfon Town in February 2020.

Kick-off is at 2.30pm, with penalties to decide the winners in the event of a draw.

Barry And District News:

Clayton Green and teammates face the challenge of Llanelli this Saturday

Manager Gavin Chesterfield will start his 15th season in the Jenner Park hotseat with a couple of newcomers in tow, with winger Marcus Day recruited from Bristol Manor Farm and former Fulham defender Aron Davies arriving after a stint with Maidenhead United.

Re-signed for 2021-22 are goalkeeper Mike Lewis, defenders Luke Cummings, Chris Hugh, Luke Cooper, Curtis McDonald and Rhys Abbruzzese, midfielders Clayton Green, Robbie Patten, Callum Sainty, Theo Wharton and Jordan Cotterill and forwards Kayne McLaggon, Nathaniel Jarvis and Rhys Kavanagh, with Troy Greening in the advanced stages of recovery from his long-term injury and Keyon Reffell seemingly eying his own playing return to boot.

Midfielder Evan Press, who scooped no fewer than three of the club's player awards in June, has not put pen to paper and while the club is remaining typically tight-lipped, it is believed the 21-year-old has been trialling with at least two Football League outfits in recent weeks.

Barry And District News:

Marcus Day made an impact on Barry boss Chesterfield in pre-season

Among those to leave Jenner Park this summer, former Wales international David Cotterill has signed up with European play-off winners Newtown, though the Robins are already out of the new UEFA Europa Conference League, beaten 5-0 on aggregate by Dundalk.

Part of Chris Coleman's squad at Euro 2016, marquee signing Cotterill would play a mere 13 minutes in front of the Jenner Park faithful, though few could have predicted the world-changing circumstances that meant his one full season at Barry was all behind-closed-doors.

Much like last season's loan signings, Sam Bowen and Josh Gould, supporters would never get to know forward Josh Graham, a October 2020 signee who has since moved on to Goytre, or alternate goalkeeper Lee Idzi, now manning the sticks for Haverfordwest County.

Barry And District News:

Troy Greening is hoping to make his own long-awaited return shortly

While brother Robbie remains with Barry, defender Kyle Patten has also upped sticks for Bridge Meadow and could make his Haverfordwest debut in the MG Cup this weekend.

Meanwhile, neither Curtis Hutson, Jamie Bird nor Michael George would take their second stint at Jenner Park into a second season, with winger Hutson leaving for Redditch United, box-to-box man Bird returning across the Severn Bridge to muck out at Manor Farm and homegrown midfielder George heading out west to join Eli Phipps at Carmarthen Town.

Youth goalkeeper Edward King, who was named on Barry's first team bench last season, has also moved on from Jenner Park, the 19-year-old playing the opening two matches of the JD Cymru South campaign for Taffs Well.

With planned opposition Ammanford and Cardiff City U23s withdrawing, Barry's pre-season schedule would turn out to be less comprehensive than manager Chesterfield had intended.

Nevertheless, there were valuable summer minutes for the squad, as on-field preparations for Saturday's match began with a late, 1-0 win at the aforementioned Bristol Manor Farm.

Backed by a coachload of followers, Barry's success at The Creek came by way of an 82nd-minute Sainty tap-in and was followed by a 4-1 win at Undy Athletic the ensuing Saturday, with Sainty, Abbruzzese, Cooper and Kavanagh all on target in the searing summer heat.

After a 2-0 defeat to Swansea City U23s at their Landore Academy, Town wrapped up their pre-season programme at Jenner Park with a 1-1 draw against an imposing Yate Town side, with Jarvis netting an equaliser late on, after McLaggon had seen his first-half penalty saved.

While supporters enjoyed being back in the stands last Saturday, this weekend sees the real business begin, with Barry hoping their much-missed 12th man can help fire them through in the hotly-contested MG Cup competition.

The official curtain raiser for the 2021-22 campaign, Barry against Llanelli is a classic Welsh football fixture, yet its story reaches beyond Wales, pairing two teams whose paths have crossed in the FA Trophy and FA Cup on multiple occasions, as well as the MG Cup.

With Barry's landmark High Court win of August 2013 enabling both banished clubs to return to Welsh League action, there remains a degree of kinship between this pairing.

However, only one can make progress in the MG Cup this Saturday, as the ruthless but thrilling nature of knock-out football makes this season opener an immediate must-win.

Entering this year's tournament at the second round stage, Barry were knocked out early on in their last two MG Cup campaigns, losing penalty shoot-outs at Cambrian and Clydach and Haverfordwest County in August of 2018 and 2019 respectively, before the ill-fated 2020-21 edition was abandoned within weeks of its ambitious December start date.

Winners of the tournament in four consecutive years from 1997 to 2000, the club's most recent MG Cup success came with an exciting run to 2017's final against The New Saints, clinched by Jordan Cotterill's stunning semi-final free-kick at home to Carmarthen Town.

Llanelli booked their place in this season's second round with July's 5-0 humbling of an inexperienced Newport County team, the Exiles invited to compete as wildcard entrants.

While Barry and the Reds share much intertwined history, no mutual former player is as revered by fans on both sides as Llanelli-born Gary Lloyd, who returns to Jenner Park this Saturday, almost three years after the stadium played host to a fitting testimonial match.

Defender Lloyd signed from Llanelli in 1994 and spent nearly a decade in Barry colours, winning no fewer than sixteen trophies and even earning a call-up to the Wales squad.

A mainstay of the Town's European adventures, Lloyd dispatched the penalty that sealed Barry's famous 3-1 win over FC Porto, a match that happened 20 years ago this week and will forever be linked with the club, at home, far and wide.

Now a long-time member of the Llanelli coaching staff, Lloyd will assist former Wales international Andy Legg in the visiting dugout this Saturday, with famed long throw specialist Legg having returned to the manager's role at Stebonheath in November.

Three games into their Cymru South season, Llanelli have recovered from a 3-0 defeat to Ammanford to draw 1-1 with Risca United, before winning 2-1 at Afan Lido last weekend.

Over 400 spectators witnessed the Reds' victory, while almost twice that number saw the Ammanford game, a sign perhaps of a renewed appetite for live Welsh domestic football.

With initial capacity restrictions now eased, Barry have confirmed spectators can pay at the turnstiles this weekend, but have encouraged fans to buy online at to avoid any delays on the day, with track and trace obligations in effect.

Admission for Saturday's Nathaniel MG Cup Second Round tie at Jenner Park between Barry Town and Llanelli is priced at £8 (adults), £6 (senior citizens/students) and £5 (ages three to 16).