Home Sport Welsh Premier League

Welsh Cup: Airbus UK Broughton boss Andy Preece says squad depth key to push for Europe

STRENGTH in depth is the key reason why Airbus UK Broughton are fighting for Europe on two fronts.

That was the verdict of Andy Preece after he watched his impressive side cruise into the last 16 of the Welsh Cup on Saturday with a 3-0 home win over Port Talbot Town.

Preece was without captain Ian Kearney, midfield playmaker Tom Field and talismanic frontman Chris Budrys for the third-round tie.

But the trio were not missed as the Wingmakers swept aside the Steelmen for the second time in two weeks thanks to top scorer Steve Abbott’s third hat-trick of the season.

Airbus have now been drawn away to Newtown in the fourth round on January 26 or 27.

The winners of the Welsh Cup will claim a place in the Europa League. A further Europa League place and a Champions League spot will go to the sides that finish second and first respectively in the Welsh Premier with a play-off between the teams ranked third to seventh deciding the final Europa League place.

The fourth-placed Wingmakers are just three points behind leaders Bangor City going into their game at Aberystwyth Town on Saturday (2.30pm).

Airbus director of football Preece said: “We made four changes on Saturday but you wouldn’t have noticed.

“Being able to do that is the reason why we’re challenging for the top six and maybe more.

“You can’t win or achieve anything with just 11 players, it’s all about the squad.

“You can’t bring in players outside the transfer window so it’s important to have a big squad but it’s difficult to give every player a chance because we have done so well.

“Of course players are disappointed when they’re not playing but I always try to explain my decisions and let them know what they’ve got to do to get into the team.”

The Wingmakers never looked back from the moment the recalled Ryan Wade crossed for Abbott to break the deadlock in the second minute on Saturday.

The former Wrexham striker headed in his second in the 23rd minute and completed a first-half treble nine minutes later, smashing a shot into the top corner.

Port Talbot finished the one-sided match with 10 men after Cortez Belle was shown a second yellow card in the 75th minute for a late challenge on substitute Richie Partridge.

Partridge, along with Kearney and Abbott, are injury doubts for Saturday’s league encounter. Toby Jones remains sidelined.