WPL preview: Who will make the Top Six?

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On Saturday night the WPL table will be split into two to make up the Top Six and Bottom Six, but before it does there is one final set of fixtures as teams battle it out to try to claim a spot in the top half of the league.

All six fixtures will kick off at 17:15 on Saturday afternoon and Sgorio will bring live coverage from The Rock where Cefn Druids take on 6th placed Carmarthen who hope to seal their place in the Top Six for the first time since the 2013/14 season.

The New Saints, Bala Town, gap Connah’s Quay and Bangor City have already secured their place in the Top Six, but who will be the other two clubs to join them and ensure a place in this year’s European play-offs?

Saturday

Aberystwyth v Cardiff Met | Saturday – 17:15
Aberystwyth’s hopes of making the Top Six came crashing down when Adam Eden scored a late winner for Cefn Druids at Park Avenue last weekend to make it mathematically impossible for Matthew Bishop’s men to make the top half.

On the other hand, Cardiff Met are pretty certain of their place in the Top Six as they prepare for their final game before the split.

The students are three points clear of Llandudno (7th) and with a superior goal difference than the Seasiders (19 goals better off) then it’s fair to say that Cardiff Met will be in the Top Six on Saturday night.

It will be the second consecutive season where a newly-promoted side has reached the Top Six after Llandudno managed the feat last season and finished 3rd in their first season in the top flight.

Chris Baker’s wonderful strike was enough to separate the two sides in their previous meeting at Cyncoed earlier this season.

Last meeting:
Cardiff Met 1-0 Aberystwyth (24/09/16)

Airbus UK v Bangor City | Saturday – 17:15
The Citizens have secured their place in the Top Six for the first time since the 2013/14 season.

Ian Dawes’ next target will be to compete for the 2nd spot and with gap Connah’s Quay (2nd) and Bala Town (3rd) going head to head this weekend then at least one of the two sides will be dropping points this Saturday.

After 12 WPL games without a win things aren’t looking good for Airbus UK who remain bottom of the table six points adrift from the rest of the pack.

The Wingmakers have lost their last nine league games and are in danger of being relegated from the WPL after 12 years in the top flight.

Bangor needed a late Anthony Miley strike to beat Airbus at Nantporth last month.

Last meeting:
Bangor City 2–1 Airbus UK (17/12/16)

Llandudno v Rhyl | Saturday – 17:15
Llandudno start the weekend in 7th spot, two points behind Carmarthen in the race for the top half.

If Carmarthen were to lose and Llandudno were to beat Rhyl, then Llandudno would take their place in the Top Six, so it’s all to play for.

The Seasiders have the worst attacking record in the league – scored 16 goals in 21 games (0.76 goals a game).

Alan Morgan’s men have failed to score in 11 of their 21 league matches this season (52%) and their centre back Mike Williams is the joint top scorer with three goals.

They might be struggling creatively as no Llandudno player has managed more than one assist this season.

Llandudno finished 3rd in their first season in the WPL qualifying for the Europa League qualifiers, but if results don’t go their way on Saturday then 7th place will be the best they can achieve this season.

Rhyl are preparing for a hard battle in the Bottom Six after losing 11 of their last 13 league games.

But the Lilywhites enjoyed a rare and unexpected win in their last outing when they beat Bala Town (2-0) to climb into 9th place.

Rhyl have the worst disciplinary record in the league with nine red cards in 21 WPL games this season (five more than any other club!).

New signings Sion Edwards and Steve Lewis are expected to start on Saturday.

Last meeting:
Rhyl 0-0 Llandudno (14/08/16)

Bala Town v gap Connah’s Quay | Saturday – 17:15
This will be a highly important fixture in the race for 2nd place as gap Connah’s Quay look to go six points clear of Bala Town.

The Lakesiders will be deeply disappointed to have lost against Rhyl in their last game to bring a run of nine consecutive wins to an end (8 WPL, 1 Welsh Cup).

The Nomads have therefore gone three points clear in second spot and have strengthened defensively with the signing of Kai Edwards from Wrexham and with the return of George Horan from injury.

It’s worth noting that finishing 3rd could be enough to claim an Europa spot (if same club wins the WPL and Welsh Cup) so both teams will want to stay ahead of Bangor City (4th) who are also challenging for automatic European qualification.

Last meeting:
gap Connah’s Quay 1-1 Bala Town (03/09/16)

Newtown v The New Saints | Saturday – 17:15
The New Saints have won 27 consecutive games in all competitions this season to break the world record which has stood since 1971/72 by Dutch side Ajax.

The New Saints have won all 21 league games this season to open up an emphatic 21 point lead, as well as winning their three League Cup games, their two Irn-Bru cup fixtures and their only game in the Welsh Cup.

Surely the next challenge for the Saints will to try and extend that record for as long as possible, and maybe winning all their games this season.

The New Saints need a maximum of 13 points from their remaining 11 games to secure the WPL championship for the sixth year on the bounce.

Newtown have slipped back into the relegation zone after losing three of their last five WPL fixtures.

It’s been a frustrating season for the Robins who will spend the second half of the season in the Bottom Six for the first time since 2012/13.

The two clubs have already met twice this season with TNS winning both ties in the league and in the Welsh Cup.

Last meetings:
The New Saints 1-0 Newtown (23/10/16)
Newtown 0-3 The New Saints (03/12/16) Welsh Cup 3rd round

Cefn Druids v Carmarthen | Saturday – 17:15
LIVE ON SGORIO – Full preview here

Last meeting:
Carmarthen 2-2 Cefn Druids (13/11/16)

Highlights of all WPL fixtures are shown on Sgorio every Monday night at 6:30 on S4C.