WPL weekend preview

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The opening weekend of the Welsh Premier League season gave us a little bit of everything – shock results, debatable decisions, glorious goals and a couple of red cards – let’s hope for more of the same shall we…

Friday

Aberystwyth v Llandudno | Friday – 20:00
Neville Powell will relish his chance to take charge of his new club at Park Avenue for the first time on Friday night following a 1-1 draw at Barry Town on the opening weekend.

Aberystwyth scored a dubious late equaliser at Jenner Park on Sunday as camera replays couldn’t confirm that the whole of the ball had crossed the line following Declan Walker’s dangerous corner kick.

One thing is certain is that Aber right back, Walker will cause problems from set plays as he likes to blast the ball into the box, meaning that the deftest of touches could lead to a goal.

It took Llandudno four games to score their first goal last season, but they managed to score three in their season opener this year as they secured a good 3-0 home win against Carmarthen.

Llandudno benefited from two soft penalty decisions, but Alan Morgan’s men were certainly worthy of the win at Parc Maesdu.

Shaun Cavanagh caused quite an impact on his debut for the club as he scored once and won a penalty after coming on from the bench.

Llandudno midfielder Danny Hughes scored the 2016/17 Goal of the Season when the clubs last met at Park Avenue in a thrilling encounter where Llandudno came out 3-4 winners on the day.

Last meeting:
Llandudno 0-2 Aberystwyth (09/04/17)

Newtown v Cefn Druids | Friday – 19:45
Both clubs will be eager to put the disappointment of the opening weekend behind them as the two clubs fell to heavy defeats in their first fixtures of the new season.

Newtown faced a tough start away to Bala Town and lost 3-0 at Maes Tegid.

The Robins had scored at least once in each of their last 12 league matches before failing to net on Friday (since losing 1-0 at Aberystwyth on Boxing Day, 26/12/16).

The Druids also conceded three as they lost 0-3 at home to Cardiff Met, stretching their drought against the students to three matches in the WPL.

Each of the two matches between these sides at Latham Park last season finished as a 1-1 draw.

Last meeting:
Newtown 1-1 Cefn Druids (08/04/17)

Saturday

Connah’s Quay v Carmarthen | Saturday – 14:30
Connah’s Quay start the weekend on top of the WPL table and Andy Morrison couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season than a comprehensive 0-4 away win at Prestatyn on the opening weekend.

The Nomads’ boss will also be pleased that four different players chipped in with the goals, including midfielder James Owen who finally scored his first WPL goal in his 96th league appearance.

Despite not being one of the four goal scorers, Ryan Wignall was debatably the most influential player on the field as he made three assists with crosses from the right and from the left, and the pacey winger was a constant threat to the Prestatyn defence all night.

Carmarthen make the journey up north again this weekend following their disappointing 3-0 defeat at Llandudno last Saturday.

The Old Gold play their opening six fixtures away from home while the work is completed on the new 3G pitch at the Cymru Tyres Stadium, and they will have to make sure that they pick up points while on the road otherwise Mark Aizlewood’s men could find themselves trailing the rest of the pack.

Carmarthen were the winners when the clubs last met at the Deeside Stadium thanks to Ceri Morgan’s solo strike.

Last meeting:
Carmarthen 1-3 Connah’s Quay (18/03/17)

Cardiff Met v Bangor City | Saturday – 14:30
The two sides will be looking to build on their strong starts after Cardiff Met enjoyed a convincing 0-3 away win against Cefn Druids in their opening fixture of the 2017/18 season, and Bangor upset the odds to beat The New Saints 5-2 at Nantporth on Friday night.

Cardiff Met impressed in their first season in the WPL, but it took them a while to get going last season as they failed to score until their fourth fixture and didn’t pick up a win until their seventh match.

Therefore, Christian Edwards will have been delighted with his side’s result last Saturday.

There were also faces of delight at the Bangor University Stadium last weekend as goals from Brayden Shaw (2), Gary Taylor-Fletcher (2) and an Anderson Cayola penalty secured an incredible 5-2 victory for the Citizens against WPL champions, The New Saints.

Bangor have won their last three matches against Cardiff Met, including last season’s play-off final which sealed the Citizens’ place in Europe for the first time in three years.

Last meeting:
Bangor City 1-0 Cardiff Met (13/05/17) – WPL Play-Off Final

Prestatyn v Barry Town | Saturday – 14:30
There was no dream return for any of this season’s two new-comers, and they will both go head-to-head on Saturday in search of their first win of the season.

Prestatyn were up against a strong Connah’s Quay side in their first fixture back in the WPL after a two-year absence, and the Nomads were too strong for Neil Gibson’s side who lost 0-4 on Friday night.

Barry Town thought they had clinched the win against Aberystwyth in their first game back after 13 years in the lower leagues, but the away side nicked a late equaliser in the 82nd minute.

Barry keeper, Mike Lewis and the Jenner Park faithful seemed baffled at the decision to award the goal which may, or may not have crossed the line.

Four years have passed since these two sides locked horns at Latham Park in the 2012/13 Welsh Cup semi final, when Prestatyn went on to lift the cup for the only time in their history.

Last meeting:
Barry Town 1-2 Prestatyn (06/04/13) – 2012/13 Welsh Cup Semi Final

The New Saints v Bala Town | Saturday – 17:15 (LIVE ON S4C)
How things can change in a matter of months! It was only four months ago when Bala were going into the Welsh Cup final against The New Saints as huge under-dogs as they had never beaten the Oswestry outfit in any of their 29 previous meetings.

But after toppling the league giants in the final, and following the Saints’ poor result at Bangor last weekend, Bala Town will be going into this match full of belief and confidence.

Not many people had predicted that Bangor would have won so emphatically against the league holders on the opening weekend, and the result will have left all at Bangor, Bala and Connah’s Quay licking their lips as they aim to mount a serious challenge for the title this season.

It was the first time TNS had conceded five goals in the WPL in 10 years, since a Jamie Reed hat-trick inspired Aberystwyth to a 5-1 win back in August 2007.

TSN had won their opening league fixture in each of the last five seasons – and had not lost on the opening weekend in 10 years (Cefn 1-0 TNS, August 2007).

Bala Town put in a solid performance to beat Newtown 3-0 in their first match of the season on Friday night.

It was only the third time in nine years that Bala had won their opening game in the WPL (Beat Bangor in 2009 and Newtown in 2014).

Will The New Saints bounce back on Saturday like a wounded animal, or could the champions find themselves in an unfamiliar place, six points behind the leaders by the end of the weekend?

Last meeting:
Bala Town 2-1 The New Saints (30/04/17) – 2016/17 Welsh Cup Final

Highlights of all WPL matches will be on Sgorio every Monday at 5:35 on S4C.