Europe – The Final Countdown

Dylan Ebenezer

Dylan Ebenezer

Wednesday, 14 May 2014, 14:37

The Welsh Premier has had a bit of stick recently. Many have criticised the format. A number have questioned the numbers – 12 clubs just doesn’t add up.

The growing belief is that the clubs play each other too many times during the season.

Bangor and Rhyl are set to meet for the seventh time this season on Saturday. But you won’t find anybody complaining at Nantporth.

When the league needed a lift we have a game that guarantees a grand finale to the season.

A game between two of the big names in north Wales – two clubs with a huge support – and a huge rivalry.

A game to decide who goes to Europe. And a game that’s worth nearly £100,000 to the winner.

The Europa League Play Off Final has the potential to be one of the biggest occasions in the history of this league.

The failure to qualify for Europe last season was huge blow for Bangor. While the financial hit was obvious – it was also a knock to the ego.

But the other side of the coin – because of the lack of coins – is the emergence of the younger players.

The injection of young local players has enriched the team – the fans love it. And even though the change may have been forced on Nev Powell – the manager has done well to build a competitive squad.

The youngsters were busy during the week – despite losing against Caernarfon in the final of the NWCFA Challenge Cup. The team that went all the way to penalties was full of players that have show a glimpse of the future in the Welsh Premier this season.

Let’s hope their development continues.

Bangor reached the final after a 1-0 victory against Newtown – a game that included a Les Davies masterclass.

At times – and at this level – he can simply be unstoppable – and ‘The Truck’ was at his very best on Saturday.

Strong and determined – his performance was inspirational. But in the middle of the hustle and bustle there was a glorious moment – and a deft touch – to set up Chris Jones for the only goal.

Bangor will need all his guts and guile against Rhyl.

Greg Strong seems to have assembled a team of giants at the Belle Vue. All over the pitch there are players that seem to tower over the opposition – ready for any battle.

And if Bangor have ‘The Truck’ then Rhyl are ready to unleash ‘The Beast’!

Steve Lewis may not be as prolific in front of goal as Les Davies – but he scored twice in the thumping 6-1 play off win against Carmarthen. His striking partner Dave Forbes also grabbed a couple – perfect timing?

Size isn’t everything of course – and in the middle of the giants Rhyl have a playmaker that keeps everything ticking over – Paul McManus.

His influence is vital and contribution crucial to the Lillywhites.

McManus and Forbes both scored at Nantporth on the opening weekend of the season as Rhyl won at Bangor – it was a huge statement of intent.

Winning there again would be a remarkable finish to their first season back in the league.

Bangor and Rhyl probably won’t worry too much about what this game could mean for the league – their focus is simply on winning and reaching Europe.

But in the grand scheme of things this grand finale could be just what the doctor ordered.