WPL weekend preview

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The second phase is upon us and with 10 games left for each WPL side there’s plenty to play for as the 12 clubs battle for European qualification, play-off spots or to avoid relegation.

Thursday, 1 February

Connah’s Quay v Bala Town | Thursday – 19:45 (Facebook Live)
Connah’s Quay have added Neil Gibson to the coaching staff following his 14 years at Prestatyn FC.

There’s some fresh faces in the playing squad too as Jonny Spittle and Rob Hughes have put pen to paper on full-time contracts at the Deeside Stadium.

TNS might be 12 points clear at the top of the table, but only three points separate four teams in the race for 2nd place and an automatic European spot.

A win for Bala Town would lift them above Connah’s Quay into 2nd position.

The two buddies, Kieran Smith and Robbie Pearson have returned from New Zealand to bolster the Bala Town squad, and both John Disney and Lewis Short will look forward to facing their old club for the first time since joining the Lakesiders.

Bala Town have not scored more than twice in a match since mid October (14 matches since then).

Connah’s Quay on the other hand have been scoring freely at home recently – 19 goals in their last six home games in all competitions.

The Nomads have not lost any of their last six games against Bala Town, but they have been tight affairs as there haven’t been more than two goals in the last seven meetings between the two sides.

Last meetings:
Bala Town 1-1 Connah’s Quay (10/11/17)
Connah’s Quay 1-0 Bala Town (08/09/17)

Friday, 2 February

Cefn Druids v The New Saints | Friday – 19:45
There’s over 10 years since Cefn Druids last beat The New Saints in the Welsh Premier League (1-0, Ricky Evans – August 2007) and TNS have won 10 of the 11 games between them since.

In those 11 encounters since 2007, TNS have scored 32 times while Cefn Druids have only netted three times.

The Saints are 12 points clear at the top of the table and are closing in on their 7th consecutive WPL title.

Cefn Druids are certain to finish in the highest ever position as they’ve made the Top Six in the first time in their history.

Last meetings:
Cefn Druids 1-3 The New Saints (28/11/17)
The New Saints 4-0 Cefn Druids (08/09/17)

Saturday, 3 February

Bangor City v Cardiff Met | Saturday – 16:15
Cardiff Met did the double over Bangor in the first phase, and another win for the students would lift them above the Citizens.

Christian Edwards’ side boast the best defensive record in the WPL this season (conceded 17 in 22).

Met top scorer, Eliot Evans (12 goals) has already bagged three goals against Bangor this season.

Alex Darlington could make his Bangor debut after joining from TNS earlier this week – Darlington provided the assist for the only goal in the League Cup final last month between TNS and Cardiff Met.

Last meetings:
Bangor City 2-3 Cardiff Met (14/10/17)
Cardiff Met 3-1 Bangor City (19/08/17)

Carmarthen v Prestatyn | Saturday – 16:15
The two bottom sides go head to head in a relegation scrap at Richmond Park on Saturday.

After 14 years with Prestatyn, manager Neil Gibson stepped down last week to join the Connah’s Quay coaching staff.

Gareth Wilson has taken charge at Bastion Gardens and will take the helm for the first time against bottom side Carmarthen who Prestatyn have already beaten twice this season.

But the Old Gold have made good acquisitions during the transfer window with Luke Bowen and Mark Jones returning to the WPL from Port Talbot and Afan Lido.

Prestatyn will be hoping to bring their disappointing run of eight consecutive losses to an end.

A win for Mark Aizlewood’s men would lift them off the bottom of the table for the first time since October.

Last meetings:
Carmarthen 0-3 Prestatyn (18/11/17)
Prestatyn 3-2 Carmarthen (07/10/17)

Llandudno v Newtown | Saturday – 16:15
Llandudno (7th) and Newtown (8th) will both be competing for the 7th spot as only one point separate them at the start of the weekend.

Newtown have won three of their last four league games, including solid wins against TNS and Cardiff Met.

Llandudno have only scored three goals in their last seven WPL games – but have kept five clean sheets in those seven matches.

Both teams will meet again in a month’s time in the Welsh Cup quarter final.

Last meetings:
Newtown 2-1 Llandudno (14/12/17)
Llandudno 2-1 Newtown (28/10/17)

Barry Town v Aberystwyth | Saturday – 16:15
Barry Town and Aberystwyth will be looking to get off to a good start to the second phase to join the race for 7th spot.

Aber will be confident after their 4-2 victory against Connah’s Quay followed by an impressive cup win against Cardiff Met last weekend.

Barry Town have failed to score in their last three outings (335 minutes without scoring), but they’re only one point behind 7th placed Llandudno.

The two meetings between the sides in the first phase were drawn.

Last meetings:
Aberystwyth 0-0 Barry Town (07/10/17)
Barry Town 1-1 Aberystwyth (13/08/17)

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