THE Cwmbran Celtic changing room will feel a little different tomorrow as the Torfaen side take on Caerau Ely in the first game of the post-Rakesh Patel era.

Captain Patel called time on his Celtic Park career last weekend after more than 400 games for the club spanning nearly 13 years.

Patel, who has two young children with wife Kayleigh, had intended to finish at the end of the season, but commitments with his university studies meant he couldn’t accommodate football.

“I have always put football and this club pretty much first, however, now it has become impossible for me to do so,” said Patel.

“I love this club and will always be grateful for the memories that I have gained here, along with the friendships that will last forever.

“I would like to wish the club the best of luck, I will be around watching as many games as possible.”

Patel’s Cwmbran career started in September 2007 when he made his debut against Tredegar Town. His 406 appearances is a club record in the Welsh League era.

A Celtic statement read: “Today is a sad day for Cwmbran Celtic with the news that its inspirational captain Rakesh Patel has announced that he has played his last game for the club.

“He had intended to finish at the end of the season but the requirement of his university course to undertake a work placement has made it impossible for he and wife Kayleigh to continue to juggle their time to accommodate his football and the needs of their two young children.

“So ends a career with Cwmbran Celtic which commenced in September 2007 when he made his debut against Tredegar Town.

“He finishes with a club Welsh League era record 406 appearances – a total which is unlikely to be surpassed for many a year, if at all.

“The players, officials and supporters of the club wish Kesh and his family every happiness in the future.

“We are pleased that Kesh will not be totally lost to the club as he intends to watch us whenever possible and, who knows, maybe we will get him back some time in the future when his son starts out on his football career. Here’s hoping.”

Celtic are desperately in need of points in JD Cymru South. They sit 14th of the 16 clubs and go to basement boys Caerau Ely (kick-off 2pm) having not won a league game since January 18.

Undy, who travel to Pontypridd Town tonight (kick-off 7.30pm), are only four points better off.

The pick of this weekend’s Welsh League games involving Gwent sides sees Abertillery Bluebirds, fourth in Division One, host fifth-placed Newport City this evening.