WPL weekend preview

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Following gap Connah’s Quay’s shock defeat at home to Carmarthen last Saturday, there is a possibility that The New Saints could be crowned Welsh Premier League champions this weekend if other results go their way.

Friday

Airbus UK v Llandudno | Friday – 19:45
It’s very tight down in the Bottom Six with only five points separating the five teams between the 7th and 11th positions in the race to reach the play-offs.

Llandudno lead the pack, but Alan Morgan will be disappointed after his side fell to a 1-2 home defeat to Newtown last Saturday in their opening game after the split.

Avoiding relegation will be the only thing on the mind of Wingmakers’ manager, Andy Thomas who are on the bottom of the table since mid-November.

Airbus have not won any of their six games against Llandudno in the WPL, and in the last meeting between the two sides we saw one of the goals of the season when Llandudno striker, Lewis Buckley lobbed the Airbus keeper from the centre circle – a goal that’s been viewed over 46,000 times on social media.

Latest meetings:
Airbus UK 2–3 Llandudno (11/10/16)
Llandudno 2–0 Airbus UK (30/08/16)

Bangor City v gap Connah’s Quay | Friday – 19:45
Both clubs will be eager to put last weekend’s disappointment behind them after the two clubs suffered defeats in their opening fixtures in the second phase.

The Nomads lost at home to Carmarthen (0-1) giving Bala the opportunity to come level on points with them in the 2nd spot.

Bangor will feel hard done by after losing 3-2 away to Bala Town as the Lakesiders were awarded a controversial penalty when the score was at 1-1.

A victory for Bangor (4th) would leave them only four points behind Connah’s Quay.

If The New Saints were to win the league and the Welsh Cup, then the 3rd placed team would also qualify automatically for Europe, as Llandudno did last season.

Latest meetings:
gap Connah’s Quay 2–2 Bangor City (16/10/16)
Bangor City 0–2 gap Connah’s Quay (21/08/16)

Bala Town v Cardiff Met | Friday – 19:45
It was a good weekend for Bala as phase one kicked off with Bangor and Connah’s Quay dropping points in the race for the second place.

With those two clubs going head to head on Friday then more points will be dropped and there could be a chance for Bala to climb into the automatic Europa spot.

Bala have only lost once in 12 games on their new 3G pitch, and that was a 2-4 defeat to Scottish side Alloa Athletic in the Irn Bru Challenge Cup back in October.

The Met students have a lot to do if they are going to catch up with the three clubs above them, but if results go in their favour this weekend then Christian Edwards’ side could close the gap on Bangor to only two points.

The last two fixtures between these sides were tight affairs as Bala won on both occasions by a goal to nil (once with a penalty, and once with an own goal).

Latest meetings:
Bala Town 1–0 Cardiff Met (05/11/16)
Cardiff Met 0–1 Bala Town (21/08/16)

Saturday

Carmarthen v The New Saints | Saturday – 14:00
Carmarthen did a favour for The New Saints last weekend by beating gap Connah’s Quay (2nd), which means that if results go their way on Friday then Craig Harrison’s men could secure the title at Richmond Park on Saturday.

But if either gap Connah’s Quay or Bala Town win their games on Friday then TNS will have to wait for at least another week.

The Oswestry outfit are unbeaten in 31 games in all competitions in 2016/17 (won 30, drawn 1).

The Saints are hoping to secure four trophies this season as they are closing in on the league title, into the Welsh Cup quarter final, the Irn-Bru Cup semi final and have reclaimed the League Cup trophy for the third consecutive season.

Carmarthen’s result at Deeside last weekend is proof that the Old Gold should not be taken lightly, and if they can continue to produce strong-willed performances and keep their starting 11 fit, then they will be a force to be reckoned with in the play-offs.

TNS have won their last seven games against Carmarthen and haven’t lost against mark Aizlewood’s side since April 2014 (1-0, Christian Doidge).

Latest meetings:
Carmarthen 2–4 The New Saints (18/11/16)
The New Saints 2–1 Carmarthen (25/09/16)

Cefn Druids v Aberystwyth | Saturday – 14:30
Both these teams won their first games of the second phase and the Druids now have an opportunity to climb above Aberystwyth into 8th position.

Aber start the weekend level on points with Llandudno (7th), but only five points above the drop zone therefore manager Matthew Bishop will be looking both up and down.

In the last meeting between the two sides the Druids won 1-0 away at Park Avenue to ruin Aberystwyth’s chances of reaching the Top Six.

Despite starting only half of the Ancients league games this season, Ashley Ruane is the club’s top scorer (6) and his goals could be crucial if Cefn Druids are to avoid relegation.

Latest meetings:
Aberystwyth 0–1 Cefn Druids (07/01/17)
Cefn Druids 0–3 Aberystwyth (16/12/16)

Newtown v Rhyl | Saturday – 14:30
Only one point separate these two sides in the Bottom Six.

After a 2-1 victory away at Llandudno last weekend, Newtown have climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of Rhyl.

With the experience and talent in Chris Hughes’ squad it’s surprising to see the Robins struggling down the wrong end of the table, but their three points at Parc Maesdu might be what they needed to give them a kick start in the second phase.

Despite signing 10 players in the transfer window, Rhyl fell to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Cefn Druids last weekend.

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.

Latest meetings:
Rhyl 1–3 Newtown (10/12/16)
Newtown 3–3 Rhyl (17/09/16)

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