Football / Non-League Notebook: Inter lead rush towards Europe

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The Independent Online
WITH the incentive of a place in next season's European Cup for the champions - and entry to the Uefa Cup for the runners-up - three clubs have pulled away from the pack in the Konica League of Wales. Inter Cardiff are two points clear at the top, Cwmbran are second with two games in hand and Aberystwyth are third, four points behind the leaders with three games in hand. The fourth-placed side, Ebbw Vale, are nine points adrift of Aberystwyth.

After its difficult birth, Alun Evans, the secretary of the Football Association of Wales, is delighted with the progress the league has made to date. 'We have achieved far more than we anticipated,' he said this week. 'The increased support around the country has been encouraging - gates are up by as much as 400 per cent on last year at some clubs.

'The best players in Wales have gravitated towards Konica clubs,' Evans said - a claim backed up by Inter Cardiff's recent signing of David Webley, who was a consistent scorer during eight years at Merthyr Tydfil.

'The top three in the league have been careful to select good management,' Evans said. 'They have experienced players and solid administrative set-ups.'

The League of Wales may have three clubs in Europe next term. The two Barclays League sides left in the Allbright Welsh Cup, Cardiff City and Wrexham, will meet each other in the two-leg semi-finals, leaving Connah's Quay Nomads to play Rhyl, the former HFS Loans League club who are now in the Manweb Cymru Alliance, for a place in the final at Arms Park, Cardiff, on Sunday 16 May.

Tommy Morgan, in charge at Aberystwyth, has replaced Inter's Lyn Jones as the manager of the Welsh semi-professional side. His English counterpart, Tony Jennings, has included Brian Ross, the Marine striker, in his squad to face Wales at Cheltenham on 2 March. Ross is the first player from the HFS Loans League to be picked for England since Burton Albion's Stuart Mell in 1985.

However, Jennings will have to make do without the Wycombe winger, Dave Carroll, who was born in Paisley, Scotland - a fact which was overlooked when he was mistakenly named in the squad. Subject to confirmation, England will have a second game this season: against Finland's Under-21 side at Woking on Wednesday 14 April.

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