As 2017 draws to an end, the race for the Top Six in the Welsh Premier League is as exciting as ever.
Connah’s Quay v Cefn Druids | Friday – 19:45
After holding their own in the Top Six for so long, the Druids slipped into 7th place after their Boxing Day defeat against Connah’s Quay (0-1).
Ryan Wignall was the hero and villain for Connah’s Quay as he scored the only goal of the game before seeing red for dissent, all in the first half.
The matches between these sides tend to be tight affairs as no more than two goals have been scored in any of their last six meetings in the WPL.
Cefn Druids have failed to score in their last three matches against Connah’s Quay, and the Ancients have not won a WPL game at the Deeside Stadium in nine years (November 2008).
Cefn Druids 0-1 Connah’s Quay (26/12/17)
Bala Town v Prestatyn | Saturday – 14:30
Les Davies grabbed a brace at the Motion Finance Stadium to secure the points for Bala Town in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day (0-2).
After three consecutive wins, Bala could secure their place in the Top Six by the end of the weekend, only if other results go in their favour.
Prestatyn, on the other hand, are out of the race for the top six after a run of six consecutive defeats in all competitions.
The Seasiders have not scored in their last two matches and are in danger of staying in the bottom two if they don’t shape up quickly.
The last two matches at Maes Tegid between these sides have finished 4-2 (Bala 4-2 Pres, Bala 2-4 Pres).
Prestatyn 0-2 Bala Town (26/12/17)
The New Saints v Newtown | Saturday – 14:30
Despite being 2-0 down and seeing a man sent off, TNS fought back to win 2-3 at Newtown on Boxing Day, proving why they are still the dominant force in the WPL.
The Robins did brilliantly to take a 2-0 lead through a Jamie Reed double, but after Greg Draper was sent off for a debatable offence, the Saints showed sheer determination to complete the comeback.
TNS have opened up a good lead at the summit following nine wins on the bounce in all competitions (6 WPL, 1 Irn Bru Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 Welsh Cup).
Newtown have only won once in nine away games in the WPL this season (vs Carmarthen), scoring only three goals and failing to score in seven out of nine matches.
Newtown 2-3 The New Saints (26/12/17)
Cardiff Met v Barry Town | Sunday – 13:00
After three consecutive wins (four games unbeaten), Barry Town have thrown themselves into the race for the Top Six.
Gavin Chesterfield’s side put in a great performance to beat the students on Boxing Day thanks to Luke Cooper’s first ever WPL strike.
Cardiff Met started the season strongly but have gone into a bit of a rut recently as they are without a win in five league games (lost 2, drawn 3).
The absence of injured striker Adam Roscrow has not helped the Archers, as they have only scored once in three games without their top scorer.
Barry Town 1-0 Cardiff Met (26/12/17)
Aberystwyth v Carmarthen | Monday – 14:30
Carmarthen claimed their first league win since September, and only their second WPL win of the season when they beat Aberystwyth 1-0 on Boxing Day.
It was the Old Gold’s third clean sheet in four games which shows that they are definitely progressing defensively.
Nine points separate Carmarthen (12th) and Aberystwyth (10fed), but another win for Aizlewood’s men on New Year’s Day would close the gap to only six points which would increase their hopes of survival significantly.
Aber have not scored in their last two games since smashing Prestatyn (7-1).
Aberystwyth have not beaten Carmarthen at home since January 1st 2015 (5-3), as the Old Gold have won on their last three visits to Park Avenue in the WPL.
Carmarthen 1-0 Aberystwyth (26/12/17)
Bangor City v Llandudno | Monday – 17:15 (S4C)
Bangor City have secured their place in the Top Six for the second consecutive season – following three seasons in the bottom half.
The Citizens are on a run of nine games without a loss since being beaten by Cefn Druids in October (8 WPL, 1 Welsh Cup).
Bangor have kept three consecutive clean sheets, and have only conceded once in their last six WPL matches.
Even so, Kevin Nicholson will have been disappointed that their last two matches have finished goalless (vs Carmarthen and Llandudno).
Bangor would surely have beaten Llandudno on Boxing Day was it not for a fantastic performance by Tudno keeper Dave Roberts who pulled off some great saves before denying James Demetriou from the penalty spot in the 87th minute.
We expect some big changes at Llandudno in January as Iwan Williams prepares to put his own personal stamp on the Maesdu squad.
Iwan Williams has been in charge for seven WPL games so far (won 1, drawn 3, lost 3).
Three of Llandudno’s last four games have ended goalless, including their last two matches (vs Met and Bangor).
The new manager seems to be building a solid platform at the back, but is in desperate need of goals as they have failed to find the net in five of the seven games since he took over.
Llandudno 0-0 Bangor (26/12/17)
On this day in 1961 one of the legends of Welsh football - Ian Rush - was born.