WPL weekend preview

Connahs Quay Rushton

Halfway through the season and it’s more exciting than it has been for years at the top of the WPL table.

Friday, 14 December

Carmarthen v Barry Town | Friday – 19:45
After winning eight of the their last 11 league games, Barry are only one point behind table-toppers Connah’s Quay.

Carmarthen are five points clear of the drop zone after losing only once in their last five league outings.

But the Old Gold have not won at home against Barry Town in the WPL since March 2000!

Barry left back, Chris Hugh scored the only goal of the game in the last meeting between the two sides (Barry 1-0 Carm).

Recent WPL form:
Carmarthen: ➖✅❌✅➖
Barry Town: ✅✅➖❌✅

Caernarfon v Aberystwyth | Friday – 19:45
A win for Caernarfon would lift them into 6th place overnight and would leave the Cofis only one point behind Aberystwyth in the race for the Top Six.

Sean Eardley’s side are unbeaten in their last four games and are aiming for the top half as there is only four points separating Caernarfon (7th) and Bala Town (4th).

But Aberystwyth are the in-form team at the moment as Neville Powell’s Green & Blacks have gone seven games without defeat in the WPL, their strongest run in three years.

The unbeaten stretch started with a goalless draw at home to the Cofis in October.

But Aber have not won away at the Oval since September 2006.

Recent WPL form:
Caernarfon: ➖❌✅✅➖
Aberystwyth: ✅✅✅✅➖

Cefn Druids v Connah’s Quay | Friday – 19:45
For the first time in six years, we are at the halfway point of the WPL season and The New Saints are not at the top of the table.

Bangor were the most recent club apart from TNS to be top of the league after 16 games back in 2012/13, but the Citizens eventually finished 3rd, 25 points behind the champions, TNS.

The Nomads have only lost once in their last 11 league games (3-0 vs TNS), but what’s rather surprising is that Andy Morrison’s men are only two points better off than they were at this stage last season.

With only one win in their last seven league games, and eight points separating Cefn Druids and the 6th place, it’s looking unlikely that Huw Griffiths’ Ancients can repeat last year’s feat of reaching the top half at the split.

Connah’s Quay were the winners in the reverse fixture earlier this season, but the Nomads have only won on one of their last five visits to the Rock.

Recent WPL form:
Cefn Druids: ➖➖✅❌➖
Connah’s Quay: ➖✅➖➖✅

Cardiff Met v Llanelli | Friday – 19:45
Since their 0-2 away win at Llanelli in October, Cardiff Met have gone six league games without a win.

The students have reached the Top Six in both their previous seasons in the WPL, but with only six games to go until the split, Christian Edwards’ Archers are seven points behind 6th placed Newtown and have a mountain to climb if they are get into the top half this time.

Llanelli have conceded at least five goals in all three of their last WPL away games, and also lost to lower league side Llangefni last weekend, so will need to up their game if they are to get anything from the match at Cyncoed on Friday.

Recent WPL form:
Cardiff Met: ➖❌❌❌➖
Llanelli: ❌❌❌✅➖

Bala Town v The New Saints | Friday – 19:45
Bala Town could go level on points with TNS if they beat the champions at Maes Tegid on Friday night.

It was a 0-0 draw in their previous meeting at Park Hall this season, but joint league top scorers, Steven Tames (Bala) and Greg Draper (TNS) will be hoping to grab some goals this weekend to add to their tally of 12 each.

The Saints certainly haven’t been their usual dominant selves this season and have lost four of 16 WPL matches so far.

TNS have not lost more than four WPL games in a season since 2007/08 when they lost six times in a 34 game season and finished as runners-up behind Llanelli.

But the Saints have never lost to Bala Town in the WPL (won 19, drawn 10, lost 0), and the champions have scored at least three goals on each of their last three visits to Maes Tegid.

Recent WPL form:
Bala Town: ❌✅✅❌➖
TNS: ➖❌❌✅➖

Saturday, 15 December

Newtown v Llandudno | Saturday – 19:30 (S4C)
Latham Park will host the live game this weekend as the Robins host Llandudno hoping to keep their unbeaten home record in the WPL intact.

But there was a shock at Newtown last Saturday as the Robins fell to a 1-2 defeat to Huws Gray club Rhyl in the Welsh Cup third round.

After two seasons in the Bottom Six, Newtown start the weekend in 6th place, determined to claim a top half finish this year.

Llandudno on the other hand, are bottom of the league after a frustrating run of 10 league games without a win (lost 9, drawn 1) – their longest run without a win in the WPL.

Llandudno started the season with a solid back-line, keeping four clean sheets in six games, conceding only three goals – a run which included their goalless draw at home to Newtown.

But after back to back wins against Barry and Cardiff Met in September, the Seasiders have hit a wall, and its been a long three months without a league win for Iwan Williams’ side.

In the eight seasons since the 12 team league structure change, the club at the bottom of the table at the halfway point has finished in the bottom two on seven occasions (7/8), BUT… only four of those seven have been relegated due to other clubs failing to secure a domestic license.

So half of the teams who were bottom of the WPL after 16 games have managed to avoid relegation!

Bangor are the only club to be at the bottom at the halfway point and manage to finish outside the relegation zone – 10th in 2014/15.

Llandudno won their third round Welsh Cup tie against Briton Ferry Llansawel last weekend – could that be the win they needed to kick-start their great escape?!

Recent WPL form:
Newtown: ➖➖✅➖❌
Llandudno: ➖❌❌❌❌

Highlights of all WPL fixtures will be on Sgorio every Monday at 5:30 on S4C.