Steve Lewis in action for Rhyl (Picture - Daliy Post)
Rhyl may have had a mixed start to their Welsh Premier League comeback season but they are yet to unleash The Beast.
Lilywhites striker Steve Lewis is currently serving a three-match suspension but once available for action I expect him to take the top flight by storm.
Lewis is a big unit and one could be fooled into thinking he might not look too graceful on a football field, but his skills, passing and finishing ability really are top drawer.
When I saw him play at Belle Vue (as it was known then) in the final game of last season against Caersws, the Liverpudlian scored the most sublime of goals and was the best ball-player on the park.
Fast-forward to this month’s NWCFA Challenge Cup final between Rhyl and Prestatyn Town and Lewis was the star man again.
He scored a fabulous hat-trick in a 5-5 thriller, the finish for his third goal belonging more at the Nou Camp than Robin Hood camp (well, it’s only half a mile away from Rhyl’s ground and I’m short on quips this week).
Sadly, in injury time of that final, the other side of Lewis emerged.
He was red-carded for a bad challenge and thus picked up the three-game ban which has delayed his Welsh Premier bow.
Speaking to some Lilywhites supporters who have seen him perform more often than I have, many say Lewis is a quality striker but at times his discipline lets him down.
One thing is for sure, he is in good hands at Rhyl with Greg Strong, John Leah and Mark Powell to guide him.
Watching Lewis, affectionately nicknamed The Beast by the Corbett Sports Stadium faithful, give his all on the pitch makes me think back to a younger Lee Hunt.
After making a flying start to his Rhyl career, Hunt’s over-exuberance led to him attracting more cards than Moonpig, eventually prompting the player to quit the Welsh Premier League over what he considered unfair treatment at the hands of referees.
Nonetheless, Hunt returned to the Welsh pyramid, grabbing plenty of goals for Rhyl, Bangor City, Bala and now Prestatyn Town, for whom he netted a stunning winner against champions The New Saints on Monday.
The striker’s disciplinary issues appear to be largely behind him and he is without doubt a future Welsh Premier Hall of Famer.
It would be nice to think Steve Lewis can one day achieve the same.
Lewis did make a couple of WPL appearances for Bala in 2011, but after a great season for Rhyl’s Huws Gray Alliance title-winning side last term, it is now nearly time to unleash The Beast on the national league. Defenders had better be ready.
Alex Ramsey has the potential to emerge as one of the league’s best goalkeepers when he returns from suspension, while centre-back Stefan Halewood will add welcome experience to a young back-line.
Rhyl certainly missed Lewis, Ramsey and Halewood in their opening day 3-0 home loss to Aberystwyth Town.
The experience of the visitors shone through, especially at set-pieces where the Craig Williams-Stuart Jones combination caused the Lilywhites nightmares.
It was not the homecoming party Lilies fans were hoping for, but how things changed 48 hours later at Bangor.
After not looking like scoring at all against Aber, Strong’s charges made the very most of their chances at Nantporth, netting from three of their four on-target efforts.
Whereas their defending let them down somewhat on Saturday, it was the back-line which won them the day at Bangor.
Young centre-backs Chris Rimmer and Ryan Astles were immovable objects, well supported by Matty Woodward and Tom Roberts.
City had most of the possession but were unable to do what they wanted with it. Although the visitors were the more inexperienced at WPL level, it was they who produced the more streetwise performance.
Welcome back Rhyl. It is going to be an interesting ride.
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