Sgorio returns to your screens this Saturday as the first live game of the WPL 2016/17 season will be broadcast from Richmond Park as Carmarthen face gap Connah’s Quay on the opening weekend of the new season.
Less than three months since gap Connah’s Quay lifted the play-off trophy after a 1-0 win against Airbus UK which secured their place in the Europa League qualifiers, the Nomads return to domestic action with a long journey to the south-west to challenge the Old Gold.
gap Connah’s Quay enjoyed a successful summer of European football after beating Norwegian side Stabæk 1-0 on aggregate, before being knocked out by strong Serbian side FK Vojvodina by a respectable 3-1 aggregate scoreline.
Andy Morrison achieved the impossible by getting the Nomads into Europe for the first time in history after taking charge of the club on 2 November, 2015 when the club were sitting = in 10th position and facing a fight with relegation.
As well as winning the play-off final, the Nomads reached the Word Cup semi final, and the Welsh Cup semi final where they were knocked out by Welsh champions, The New Saints.
But after bolstering the squad over the summer, gap Connah’s Quay have been tipped to challenge TNS for the title this season.
The biggest arrival at Deeside Stadium during the transfer window was the signing of prolific striker, Michael Wilde, who is The New Saints’ all-time leading scorer in the WPL with 151 goals.
Andy Morrison has also secured the signings of five experienced players who played under him at Airbus while he served as assistant manager to Andy Preece (Ian Kearney, Michael Pearson, James Owen, Lewis Short, Tom Field).
It won’t be an easy start to the season for the Nomads as a trip to Richmond Park always promises to be a tough battle.
There haven’t been too many changes to Mark Aizlewood’s squad, who finished last season in 7th place, reaching the play-off semi final but losing out 2-0 to who else, but gap Connah’s Quay.
The powerful centre-half, Lee Surman has signed for Carmarthen after he started all 32 WPL games for Aberystwyth last season, and was one of only six outfield players to start all WPL games in 2015/16.
Surman has been a very dependable figure over the past seasons and has started at least 25 games in the last 11 WPL seasons for either Port Talbot, Llanelli or Aberystwyth.
In a recent interview with Sgorio, Surman stated that Carmarthen are targeting the ‘Top Six’ by January:
“We’d love to get a little bit of silverware, but looking at the investment of other clubs, there’s a lot of money everywhere else, so we’ll be happy wearing that underdog tag, but certainly we’re looking for Top Six, definitely.”
It’s fair to say that the Old Gold will be the ‘underdogs’ on Saturday especially considering their home record last year as only Haverfordwest (11) managed to score less goals than Carmarthen (19) at home in WPL 2015/16.
But it’s a fresh start for both clubs and like everyone else, we here at Sgorio can’t wait for the big kick-off and are all looking forward to another season of exciting Welsh football from our national league .
Highlights of all WPL games will be on Sgorio every Monday night at 18:30.
Carmarthen v gap Connah’s Quay LIVE on S4C this Saturday, 13 August at 17:00.
On this day in 1971 one of the football world's most succesful managers, Josep Guardiola i Sala - or Pep to his friends - was born.