KEY PLAYERS RE-SIGN FOR LILYWHITES
RHYL FC have re-signed a number of key players for next season as they bid to plan a return to the top flight.
One of the biggest boosts for Lilywhites fans is the agreement of first-team captain John Leah to sign a new 18-month deal.
Last season's Players' Player and Managers Player of the Year signed for Rhyl in April of last year following his surprise release from The New Saints.
The retention of Leah, 31, follows the encouraging news that two of the club's most promising talents will also remain at Belle Vue next season.
Both 19-year-old Shaun Dowling, who plays centre-back and who was released from Chester City in 2008/2009, and Andy Pearson, 20, a utility player who was once a regular with Bolton Wanderers' reserve and youth teams, have signed for two years.
Dowling had a superb debut campaign for the Lilies in defence, filling the gap left by the departure of George Horan in February, while Pearson made an immediate impact with his pace and ball skills.
Also staying with Rhyl is Chris Williams, the former Stockport County winger who has put pen to paper on a two-year basis.
"Chris performed well last season and has the bit of quality that we need in the tight games to unlock the defences," stated Rhyl player-manager Greg Strong.
The only blow to the Lilywhites so far has been the departure of last season's 30-goal top scorer Mark Connolly to phoenix club Chester FC where the 25-year-old is reunited with manager Neil Young, former number two to John Hulse at Rhyl.
Probably the best news of all for Rhyl followers, however, is the agreement of Strong to stay on as manager for another three years.
The former Bolton Wanderers and Motherwell defender has enjoyed two successful seasons at Belle Vue, winning the Welsh Premier title as a player in 2008/09 and then taking over as player-manager last term, leading the Lilies to sixth place in the most difficult of circumstances.
Strong has also agreed to take over as Academy manager for the forthcoming season and beyond.
Rhyl will play in the Cymru Alliance next season after failing to secure the domestic licence necessary to stay in the WPL, but the club is determined to bounce back to the top flight as soon as possible.