By Tom Pritchard
PONTYPRIDD Town manager Jonathan Jones has hailed the club’s return to the USW Sport Park in Treforest after an exile lasting 18 months.
Jones believes Town’s new home will help his side find the consistency they crave as they look to climb the Cymru South league.
Having previously played at the Sport Park in the 2017-18 season, the Dragons were forced to find a new venue after achieving promotion to Welsh football’s second tier, with the USW ground not able at the time to meet the specific criteria.
The club spent the first part of last season at Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff, before agreeing to a ground share with Aberdare Town.
“We’re grateful to Aberdare for ground-sharing with us,” said Jones.
“It’s been a long journey for Pontypridd Town Football Club, with the moves to different grounds, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that those moves have been based on ambition.
“When they had the opportunity to improve Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd town centre, that was met with a little bit of resistance from the council, which is fair enough.
“To continue that ambition, they moved to the Sport Park and started playing on Pitch 5. And then from achieving promotion they outgrew that pitch and moved to Leckwith and then up to Aberdare.”
Jones, a UEFA coach educator and coaching lecturer at the University, is delighted to be back. He highlighted the positives that the move will bring.
“It’s been a long journey for the club in recent years with the different moves, but to move back to the local area and such a fantastic facility is great for us moving forward,” he said.
“It’s a big advantage for us, our home ground being a 3G, it’s such a fabulous surface.”
Having played two games on the new surface – a 2-2 draw with Cambrian and Clydach Vale and a 6-1 win over Cwmbran Celtic – the Dragons have a local derby to look forward to on Friday evening when they host Taffs Well.
“It’s a big game for us under the lights on Friday night,” said Jones.
“It’s a big occasion against our local rivals. In the context of the league with us both being in a similar position, it’s a vitally important game for us and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“We can take confidence from our recent form and the positivity around returning home and moving to such a fantastic facility.”
Throughout January, Cymru League clubs are able to do business in the transfer window, and Pontypridd have utilised the opportunity to add some much-needed experience to their squad.
“I think it’s been a successful window for us. To have someone like Dave Vincent be attracted to the club is great,” Jones added.
“Obviously a lot of that was down to facilities, training in this wonderful facility here, and playing out on the new match venue 4G.
“It’s a big coup to get someone who was playing regularly in the Cymru Premier. I thought he played particularly well last Saturday and showed his quality.
“But also adding people like Abdi Noor, who had a fantastic youth career with Cardiff City and Wales, as well as Bo Cordle, a long-standing servant to the club who has recently returned from injury is great.”