WPL weekend preview

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With only four games remaining in this WPL season the race is hotting up for European qualification, to reach the play-offs and to avoid relegation.

Saturday

Aberystwyth v Cefn Druids | Saturday – 14:30
Three days after asking Matthew Bishop to ‘step aside’ as Aberystwyth manager, the Black & Greens face Cefn Druids in a hugely important game in the battle to avoid relegation.

Despite being 0-2 up against Airbus last weekend, Aber left the Airfield empty handed after conceding four times (4-2).

Aberystwyth are only a point above Rhyl and the relegation zone after winning only one of their last nine league matches.

It’s incredibly tight in the fight for survival, and Aber must start picking up points if they are to avoid dropping out of the WPL for the first time in their history.

Cefn Druids won comfortably at home to Rhyl last Friday (4-1) which put Huw Griffiths’ side four points clear of the drop zone, and another win this weekend could more or less secure the Druids’ place in the league for next season.

Cefn Druids have either been promoted or relegated out of the WPL in all of the last three years, and they will be keen to bring that run to an end this summer.

Last meetings:
Cefn Druids 2-1 Aberystwyth (11/02/17)
Aberystwyth 0-1 Cefn Druids (07/01/17)
Cefn Druids 0-3 Aberystwyth (16/12/16)

Remaining fixtures:
ABER: 09/04 Llan (a), 14/04 Rhyl (h), 22/04 Dre (a)
CEFN: 08/04 Dre (a), 14/04 Llan (h), 22/04 Air (h)

gap Connah’s Quay v Bangor City | Saturday – 14:30
Connah’s Quay recorded their finest win of the season on Tuesday as they beat reigning champions TNS 2-1 thanks to a late strike from substitute Declan Poole.

Following that result, gap Connah’s Quay climbed above Bala Town into 2nd place on goal difference.

Bala and Connah’s Quay are now eight points clear of Bangor City (4th), and a win for the Nomads against Bangor on Saturday would mean that they would secure a top three finish.

Finishing 3rd will be enough for European qualification (unless Caernarfon win the Welsh Cup).

With only four games remaining it looks like Bangor are out of the race for the top three spots, but after beating the Nomads in their last meeting through two Henry Jones goals, the Citizens will feel confident going into this game.

Last meetings:
Bangor City 2-1 gap Connah’s Quay (10/02/17)
gap Connah’s Quay 2-2 Bangor City (16/10/16)
Bangor City 0-2 gap Connah’s Quay (21/08/16)

Remaining fixtures:
CEI: 07/04 YSN (a), 14/04 Bala (h), 22/04 Met (a)
BAN: 09/04 Met (a), 14/04 YSN (h), 22/04 Cfin (h)

Llandudno v Airbus UK | Saturday – 14:30
Llandudno thought they had done enough to beat Newtown and climb into 7th spot last Sunday, but Jason Oswell had other ideas as he equalised with a 92nd minute strike (2-2).

It was the second game in a row that Llandudno had conceded a late equaliser after Stefan Halewood nicked a point for Rhyl at Parc Maesdu a fortnight ago (1-1).

Only two points separate Llandudno and Newtown in the race for the play-offs, and Alan Morgan’s men could jump up to 7th overnight with a win against Airbus on Saturday.

Airbus were 0-2 down to Aberystwyth after only 20 minutes last Saturday and looked to be on their way down to the Huws Gray Alliance, but managed to score four times to pull off a great come-back to fight to live another day in the WPL (4-2).

Andy Thomas’ side are still seven points away from safety, and with four games remaining Airbus need another win this weekend for any realistic chance of survival.

But since their promotion in 2015, Llandudno haven’t lost any of their seven WPL fixtures against Airbus UK.

Last meetings:
Airbus UK 0-0 Llandudno (10/02/17)
Airbus UK 2-3 Llandudno (11/10/16)
Llandudno 2-0 Airbus UK (30/08/16)

Remaining fixtures:
LLAN: 09/04 Aber (h), 14/04 Cefn (a), 22/04 Rhyl (a)
AIR: 08/04 Rhyl (a), 14/04 Dre (h), 22/04 Cefn (a)

Cardiff Met v Bala Town | Saturday – 14:30
Kieran Smith grabbed a brace for Bala Town at Nantporth on Friday night to take the Lakesiders a step closer to securing European football this summer.

After a slow start to the season where Colin Caton’s side spent time in the bottom two, the Lakesiders have turned their season around and are now in a strong position to secure European qualification for the third consecutive season.

Cardiff Met completed a remarkable feat by securing a Top Six spot in their first season in the top flight, but the students are still searching for their first win in the second phase.

An automatic European spot is out of the Archers’ reach, but they will need to start building confidence and momentum if they’re to make a real challenge in the play-offs.

Bala Town have won each of the previous three meetings between the two sides, but needed an Anthony Stephens penalty to scrape a 0-1 win the last time they met at Cyncoed.

Last meetings:
Bala Town 3-1 Cardiff Met (10/02/17)
Bala Town 1-0 Cardiff Met (05/11/16)
Cardiff Met 0-1 Bala Town (21/08/16)

Remaining fixtures:
MET: 09/04 Ban (h), 14/04 Cfin (a), 22/04 Cei (h)
BALA: 08/04 Cfin (h), 14/04 Cei (a), 22/04 YSN (h)

The New Saints v Carmarthen | Saturday – 14:30
The New Saints fell to only their second WPL defeat of the season on Tuesday night as they lost 2-1 against gap Connah’s Quay.

Prior to that result, Carmarthen were the only team to have beaten TNS in the WPL this season.

Liam Thomas scored the only goal of the game when the clubs last met at February bringing the Saints’ run of 31 games without defeat to an end.

With the league in the bag, TNS are now targetting another record before the end of the season.

In 2014/15 TNS won the league by 18 points – the biggest margin between 1st and 2nd since the league structure was changed to a 32 game season in 2010/11.

Barry Town hold the WPL record for the biggest margin when they finished 26 points ahead of Newtown in 1997/98 in a 38 game season.

At the start of the weekend, with four games left, The New Saints are 23 points ahead of the rest of the pack and could break Barry’s record.

Last meetings:
Carmarthen 1-0 The New Saints (11/02/17)
Carmarthen 2-4 The New Saints (18/11/16)
The New Saints 2-1 Carmarthen (25/09/16)

Remaining fixtures:
YSN: 07/04 Cei (h), 14/04 Ban (a), 22/04 Bala (a)
CFIN: 08/04 Bala (a), 14/04 Met (h), 22/04 Ban (a)

Sunday

Rhyl v Newtown | Sunday – 15:00
Jason Oswell nicked an important point for the Robins last Sunday as he found the top corner with the last kick of the game against fellow play-off hopefuls, Llandudno.

Things looked bleak for Newtown back in December as they were down in the relegation zone and faced dropping down of the WPL for the first time in their history.

But now the Robins are on a run of eight league games without defeat, and have scored at least twice in each of those eight games (2.75 goals a game in last eight).

Rhyl start the weekend in 11th position and the games are starting to run out for Niall McGuinness’ men.

The Lilywhites have only won one of their eight games in all competitions in 2017 (Air 0-2 Rhyl).

Rhyl managed to avoid relegation last season despite finishing in the bottom two as 10th placed Port Talbot failed to secure the domestic license and were relegated instead, but Niall McGuinness will hope to survive on merit this time around.

League top scorer, Jason Oswell (17) has already netted five times against Rhyl this season, including a hat-trick back in August, and the Robins’ striker will be hoping to add to his tally on Sunday to take a step closer to claiming the WPL Golden Boot.

Last meetings:
Newtown 3-2 Rhyl (10/02/17)
Rhyl 1-3 Newtown (10/12/16)
Newtown 3-3 Rhyl (17/09/16)

Remaining fixtures:
RHYL: 08/04 Air (h), 14/04 Aber (a), 22/04 Llan (h)
DRE: 08/04 Cefn (h), 14/04 Air (a), 22/04 Aber (h)

Highlights of all WPL matches will be on Sgorio every Monday at 6:30 on S4C.