WPL weekend preview

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Only three games to go in the Welsh Premier League and there’s still two attractive European spots up for grabs, as well as the two slightly less attractive tickets into the Huws Gray Alliance.

Friday

The New Saints v gap Connah’s Quay | Friday – 19:45
These two clubs prepare to go head to head for the third time within 17 days.

It will be the sixth time the teams meet this season after three previous meetings in the league, and also clashing in both the League Cup and the Welsh Cup semi final.

Their original League Cup semi final fixture was postponed after 73 minutes due to heavy fog, so the teams have already played 523 minutes of football against each other this season (8 hours, 43 minutes) and will be well acquainted with one another by this stage of the season.

The New Saints were the winners last weekend as they secured a place in the Welsh Cup final for the fourth consecutive season with a 3-0 win over the Nomads.

gap Connah’s Quay came out victorious in their last league meeting with Declan Poole scoring a glorious winner at Deeside late in the game (2-1).

The Nomads need two points from their remaining three league fixtures to secure a place in Europe for the second season on the bounce.

Last meetings:
gap Connah’s Quay 0-3 The New Saints (01/04/17) Welsh Cup semi final
gap Connah’s Quay 2-1 The New Saints (21/02/17)
gap Connah’s Quay 0-3 The New Saints (17/12/16)
gap Connah’s Quay 0-1 The New Saints (20/09/16) League Cup semi final
The New Saints 3-0 gap Connah’s Quay (30/10/16)

Remaining fixtures:
YSN: 14/04 Ban (a), 22/04 Bala (a), 30/04 Bala (WC)
CEI: 14/04 Bala (h), 22/04 Met (a)

Saturday

Bala Town v Carmarthen | Saturday – 14:30
Bala have reached the Welsh Cup final for the first time in their history after beating Caernarfon (3-1) last Saturday.

The Lakesiders were trailing 1-0 with less than 15 minutes remaining before Lee Hunt struck twice with Kieran Smith adding the other goal at the Corbett Sports Stadium to book Bala’s place in the final and to secure their place in Europe for the third consecutive season.

The next target for Colin Caton’s side will be to finish the season as runners up and they start the weekend two points above Connah’s Quay who are the only team who could catch them.

Carmarthen are in a two horse race with Cardiff Met to finish 5th which wouldn’t only secure them an extra £1,000 than finishing 6th, but would also give them home advantage in the play-offs.

Following a great start to the second phase with win against both The New Saints & gap Connah’s Quay, the Old Gold have lost momentum recently after failing to win any of their last five fixtures (drawn 1, lost 4).

There’s been over three years since Carmarthen last beat Bala in the WPL back in November 2013 in a 2-0 victory at Richmond Park through goals from Christian Doidge and Cortez Belle.

Last meetings:
Carmarthen 0-1 Bala Town (18/02/17)
Carmarthen 2-3 Bala Town (29/10/16)
Bala Town 0-0 Carmarthen (30/08/16)

Remaining fixtures:
CFIN: 14/04 Met (h), 22/04 Ban (a)
BALA: 14/04 Cei (a), 22/04 YSN (h), 30/04 YSN (WC)

Newtown v Cefn Druids | Saturday – 14:30
In the race for 7th spot and a place in the play-offs, Newtown are four points clear of the rest of the pack.

The Robins are the favourites to reach the play-offs as they are on a strong run of nine league games without defeat since December.

Jason Oswell’s goals have been a huge factor in Newtown’s success as the striker has climbed to the top of the top scorer chart (18) after netting nine goals in the seven games since the split.

Oswell has scored the same amount of league goals than the whole of the Cefn Druids squad in their seven games since the split (9).

Cefn Druids played out another goalless draw against Aberystwyth last weekend, their third 0-0 results in their last four WPL games.

Avoiding relegation was always the main priority for Cefn Druids and as they start the weekend six points above the bottom two, Huw Griffiths would surely take another goalless draw this week to move a step closer to safety.

Last meetings:
Cefn Druids 1-2 Newtown (17/02/17)
Cefn Druids 1-0 Newtown (25/11/16)
Newtown 1-1 Cefn Druids (04/09/16)

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

Rhyl v Airbus UK | Saturday – 15:00
A defeat for Airbus on Saturday would relegate the club after 12 years in the top flight of Welsh football.

Andy Thomas’ side are seven points from the safety of the 10th position and with only three games remaining, Airbus are in desperate need of a win on Saturday for any hope of a great escape.

Rhyl are also in danger of dropping down the Huws Gray Alliance as they start the weekend two points behind 10th placed Aberystwyth.

The Lilywhites have already beaten Airbus three times this season, but their most recent win against the Wingmakers has been their only victory in nine games 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.

A draw would not relegate Airbus on Saturday, but if Aberystwyth were then to pick up a point at Llandudno on Sunday then Airbus would be doomed.

Last meetings:
Airbus UK 0-2 Rhyl (18/02/17)
Airbus UK 0-3 Rhyl (19/11/16)
Rhyl 3-1 Airbus UK (10/09/16)

Remaining fixtures:
RHYL: 14/04 Aber (a), 22/04 Llan (h)
AIR: 14/04 Dre (h), 22/04 Cefn (a)

Sunday

Cardiff Met v Bangor City | Sunday – 14:30
Ex-Blackpool and Leicester City star, Gary Taylor-Fletcher will take the reins as Bangor City’s player-manager for the first time when they travel to the capital on Sunday.

In a short statement on their website, the club said that Dawes had been relieved of his duties “due to the inability to gain his acceptance on the current Pro Licence course in accordance with UEFA club licensing criteria.

Dawes is the second Bangor City manager to be sacked this season, after former Wales international Andy Legg was removed from the post in November.

Despite the inconsistency, Bangor City are likely to finish 4th in the WPL this season which would be their highest finish in four years (3rd – 2012/13).

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, picking up only one points in their seven games since the split.

The Archers gave Bangor a real thumping when the Citizens last visited Cyncoed Campus (4-0) which was Andy Legg’s last game in charge for Bangor, and both Wayne Allison and Christian Edwards will hope for a similar outcome on Sunday.

Last meetings:
Bangor City 3-2 Cardiff Met (18/02/17)
Cardiff Met 4-0 Bangor City (19/11/16)
Bangor City 2-1 Cardiff Met (02/10/16)

Remaining fixtures:
MET: 14/04 Cfin (a), 22/04 Cei (h)
BAN: 14/04 YSN (h), 22/04 Cfin (h)

Llandudno v Aberystwyth | Sunday – 16:15 – LIVE ON S4C
We saw a fantastic encounter when these clubs last met back in February as Llandudno fought back from 3-1 down to win 3-4 at Park Avenue.

Aber have only won one of their last 10 league games and the club face a real battle to avoid relegation from the WPL for the first time in their history.

Llandudno start the weekend four points behind Newtown in the race for 7th spot, and they will be seeking three points to stay in the mix for the play-offs.

Alan Morgan’s side have not been on form in front of goal this season, netting less than a goal a game in the WPL (28 goals in 29 games).

Anything other than a win for Aberystwyth would leave them in a dangerous position as they try and keep their heads above water before their crunch match against Rhyl next weekend.

Last meetings:
Aberystwyth 3-4 Llandudno (18/02/17)
Aberystwyth 0-0 Llandudno (23/10/16)
Llandudno 0-1 Aberystwyth (28/08/16)

Remaining fixtures:
LLAN: 14/04 Cefn (a), 22/04 Rhyl (a)
ABER: 14/04 Rhyl (h), 22/04 Dre (a)

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