A look back at some of the crucial games that shaped the outcome of the WPL 2018/19 season.
1) Bala Town 2-1 Carmarthen (10/08/18)
In the first live game of the season we saw what was the best assist of the season as Henry Jones produced a fabulous rabona to set up Steven Tames on his WPL debut. Tames completed his brace in the second half with a well-placed strike from outside the box and the Tames / Jones partnership promised to be an exciting one for the Lakesiders.
2) Llanelli 0-7 Connah’s Quay (12/08/18)
Llanelli had a disappointing start on their return to the top flight and they never fully recovered after an opening weekend demolition by Connah’s Quay. The Nomads were flexing in their first game of the season, and with Michael Bakare in fine form, Andy Morrison’s men sent out a message that they were an outfit to be feared this season.
3) Barry Town 3-2 Bala Town (19/08/18)
Jenner Park hosted a dramatic encounter in August as visitors Bala were shown three red cards and were on the receiving end of a very debatable late winner. Bala captain Chris Venables netted twice before being sent off, Thomas Fry fired in a fantastic free-kick for Barry, Macauley Southam-Hales showed glimpses of what was to come from the young star before Kayne McLaggon scored the winner with his arm! It was the start of a wonderful spell for Barry Town and signs of the frustrations that was to come for Colin Caton’s crew.
4) Llandudno 0-4 Connah’s Quay (22/09/18)
Connah’s Quay scored all four goals from set pieces as they bullied Llandudno off the park in September. It was a victory that tasted even sweeter for Andy Morrison who came up against players who had decided to leave his club to join Llandudno over the summer. This was the first in a run of 17 league games without a win for the struggling Llandudno.
5) Cardiff Met 4-1 The New Saints (30/09/18)
The students were fearless when their sheer grit saw them get the better of TNS in an emphatic 4-1 win against the league holders. Eliot Evans’ classy touches were too much for the champions and the questions began to rise – was this going to be the year when the Saints’ reign was to end? Greg Draper did come off the bench to score late on for TNS… obviously!
6) The New Saints 3-0 Connah’s Quay (20/10/18)
It was the Aeron Edwards show when the top two went head to head in October. After 10 games, the Saints trailed Connah’s Quay by two points, and it was the Nomads that were on top at Park Hall before Aeron Edwards combined well with Greg Draper before unleashing a fierce effort that flew past Danby into the net. Edwards scored again after the break before Blaine Hudson secured the win for the Saints. It was a breath of fresh air seeing how much this game meant to the TNS players – they knew that they were in a for a real title race this season.
7) Bala Town 1-3 Caernarfon (12/01/19)
Caernarfon had already suprised the pundits by securing a Top Six spot, but the icing on the cake was beating Bala Town in the last game before the split to climb up to 5th spot. Caernarfon have been above Bala in the table since that victory where Alex Ramsay showed why he is one of the best shot-stoppers in the league. Dead ball specialist, Nathan Craig scored his 11th goal from a set piece situation (8 penalties, 3 free kicks).
8) The New Saints 2-2 Barry Town (16/02/19)
In 2nd place at the time, two points behind the Nomads and two points above Barry Town, a win for the Saints would realistically take Barry out of the title race. Kurtis Byrne put TNS ahead in the first minute after Mike Lewis had ventured too far off his line. The Saints were 2-1 up after further first half goals from Jamie Mullan and Kayne McLaggon before Tom Holland was shown red in the 73rd minute. Deep into added time and into the 97th minute, Barry were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Up stepped Jonathan Hood to rifle in a rocket into the top corner – a massive goal which meant that it remained a three horse race for the championship with eight games left to play.
9) Connah’s Quay 0-2 The New Saints (09/03/19)
A win for the Nomads would’ve left them five points clear at the top of the WPL table and in the driving seat, but when the chips were down the Saints showed their experience and with Aeron Edwards once again proving to be the vital ingredient, the champions battled courageously to a 2-0 away win at the Deeside Stadium. The victory knocked the Nomads off top spot and put TNS back on the throne where they remained for the rest of the season.
10) Bala Town 0-7 The New Saints (03/04/19)
The New Saints had not lost since November and amidst a run of 18 league games without defeat, Scott Ruscoe’s stars destroyed Bala Town on their own patch hitting seven at Maes Tegid. After the game, experienced commentator Bryn Tomos claimed that it was possibly the best WPL performance he had ever witnessed. They might have had a shaky start but TNS sailed to their eighth consecutive WPL championship and will be hoping to continue their remarkable form when the Champions League qualifiers commence in June.