WPL weekend preview

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The New Saints have secured the league title for the sixth consective season, but with three other European spots up for grabs, and a fierce battle to avoid relegation, there is still plenty to play for in the Welsh Premier League.

Friday

Airbus UK v Cefn Druids | Friday – 19:45
With six games remaining, the Wingmakers are 11 points from the safety of the 10th position and are looking very likely to be relegated into the Huws Gray Alliance after a 12 year stint in the top flight.

Airbus have only won one of their last 17 league games (Airbus 4-2 Bangor) and despite re-signing several experienced ex-players in the January transfer window (Leon Clowes, Glenn Rule, Lee Owens (on loan)) the club have failed to turn their fortunes around.

But Cefn Druids are the only WPL side not to have beaten Airbus this season (drawn 1, lost 1).

Huw Griffiths’ men are only two points above the drop zone and will be eager to claim all three points against the bottom-placed side.

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 2-2 Airbus UK (20/09/16)
Airbus UK 3-2 Cefn Druids (18/09/16)

Llandudno v Rhyl | Friday – 19:45
Llandudno and Newtown lead the pack in the race for 7th place as they start the weekend equal on points, four points above Cefn Druids and Aberystwyth.

But Llandudno failed to score again last weekend (vs Cefn Druids) in what was their 7th goalless draw this season (27%).

Alan Morgan’s team have not scored in half of their WPL games this season (13/26), netting only nine goals in 13 home games in the league (0.69 goals a game).

With six games to play, Rhyl are in 11th place, two points behind Aberystwyth and Cefn Druids in the fight for survival.

Only six points separate the five clubs between the 7th and 11th position which means that anyone of the Bottom Six sides could still face relegation this season.

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.

Both league games between the two sides have been drawn this season, but Rhyl did beat Llandudno at Maesdu Park in the League Cup thanks to a Kristian Pierce penalty (0-1).

Last meetings:
Llandudno 2-2 Rhyl (14/01/17)
Llandudno 0-1 Rhyl – R1 Nathaniel MG Cup (04/10/16)
Rhyl 0-0 Llandudno (14/08/16)

Aberystwyth v Newtown | Friday – 20:00
Newtown have won all four league games since the split, climbing up to the all-important 7th spot on goal difference.

Aberystwyth were the last team to beat Newtown (1-0), and that was back in December, but since that defeat the Robins have scored 16 goals in six games (2.66 goals a game).

Chris Hughes’s side have sneaked up to the top of the Bottom Six, while Jason Oswell has also been climbing the goal scoring chart and is now only one goal behind the league’s top scorer, Mike Hayes (14).

Since beating Newtown in December, Aberystwyth have only won one of their last eight games in all competitions (Aber 1-0 Air).

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.

Last meetings:
Newtown 2-2 Aberystwyth (31/12/16)
Aberystwyth 1-0 Newtown (26/12/16)

Saturday

Carmarthen v Bangor City | Saturday – 14:30
Bangor City are still very much in the race for 3rd place, and if TNS can complete the treble by lifting the Welsh Cup then finishing 3rd would be enough for an automatic spot in Europe.

Only two points separate Bangor City and gap Connah’s Quay (3rd), but the Nomads do have a game in hand to play (vs TNS).

After two unexpected wins against gap Connah’s Quay and The New Saints, Carmarthen have failed to win any of their last two games.

Mark Aizlewood’s well drilled side have kept five clean sheets in their last eight games so it will be a tough ask for the Citizens to break down a solid Carmarthen defence.

Last meetings:
Bangor City 1-2 Carmarthen (26/11/16)
Carmarthen 1-1 Bangor City (17/09/16)

gap Connah’s Quay v Cardiff Met | Saturday – 14:30
The Nomads need a win on Saturday if they are to close the gap on Bala in the race for 2nd place and a definite place in Europe.

gap Connah’s Quay have failed to win any of their four league games in 2017 and manager Andy Morrison will be determined to bring that run to an end.

Cardiff Met completed a remarkable feat by securing a Top Six spot in their first season in the top flight, but they are also in search of their first win since the split.

With 12 points separating Met and the 3rd position, an automatic European spot might be out of their reach, but they will need to start building confidence and momentum if they’re to make a real challenge in the play-offs.

Last meetings:
gap Connah’s Quay 0-0 Cardiff Met (23/10/16)
Cardiff Met 1-2 gap Connah’s Quay (11/09/16)

Sunday

The New Saints v Bala Town | Sunday – 16:15
The New Saints have secured the league title for the sixth consective season, and they’ve done that with seven games left to play!

The champions are 20 points clear of second placed Bala Town who they face on Sunday.

Bala Town have never beaten The New Saints in the WPL (22 meetings), or in any other competition either.

But after retaining the league title last weekend, the Saints could become complacent against Bala as the Lakesiders hope to take a step closer to securing European football for the third consecutive season.

Last meetings:
The New Saints 2-1 Bala Town – Nathaniel MG Cup (04/10/16)
Bala Town 0-2 The New Saints (20/09/16)
The New Saints 5-1 Bala Town (17/09/16)

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