Last weekend was pretty spectacular, wasn’t it? Can MD14 raise the bar? Absolutely! Check out our preview for the weekend’s fixtures below.
With one point in their previous five fixtures, the aim for Llandudno this weekend will be very similar to what is has been for many weeks previously, and that is that they need to find a way to win football matches and quickly.
They are now in the relegation zone, following Carmarthen’s victory over Caernarfon, and the need for points is more significant than ever. Young Ben Clark has joined the ranks at the Giant Hospitality Stadium on loan, and he is expected to have plenty of opportunities to continue his development at the heart of Iwan Williams’ side. Williams also bolstered the squad this week by signing Gary Taylor-Fletcher on an initial short term contract. The former Blackpool and Bangor player brings a wealth of experience with him, but hasn't played since the Citizens' demotion in the summer for failing to achieve the Tier 1 Licence
For the Lakesiders, they’re in the midst of a decent run themselves, with three wins in their last four league games to show for their efforts – they sit five points off top spot in fourth. With the top three set to do battle against each other over the coming weeks, if Colin Caton’s side can find some consistency in the next few games then they could be right in the mix come December.
Things haven’t gone to plan for either of these two sides of late, with Caernarfon winless in six having taken only one point from their last three fixtures and The New Saints winning just three of their last seven league games – which in this unpredictable season doesn't actually seem too bad, but for the standards TNS have set in recent years, they will have wanted to do much better.
Travelling to Park Hall on Friday night, Caernarfon may not be in the best run of form, but they’re still absolutely fearless as football sides go and will be itching to get to the home of the champions in the hopes of causing an upset. They'll be bolstered by the return of Noah Edwards from suspension, while Danny Brookwell and Clive Williams will be subject to late fitness tests.
Saints boss Scott Ruscoe meanwhile has said in the build up this week that his side need to be better than they have been in recent weeks, but that he believes in his team's ability to overcome what he termed a bump in the road. Jon Routledge and Danny Redmond are slight doubts for the Saints going into tonight, as both have been carrying minor knocks through the week.
When was the last time 1st v 2nd didn't involve the Saints this far into a season? What a game we have to look forward to at Deeside as Barry Town United make the trip to Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Gavin Chesterfield’s Barry have already got the better of the Nomads once this season as they won 2-0 against the league leaders at Jenner Park back in September, so will be brimming with confidence from that encounter and their lofty position in the table, but they’ll also be realistic about the prospect of facing Andy Morrison’s side on home turf, where Connah’s Quay have won six out of seven fixtures so far this term.
Barry are the league’s form side at the moment too, having secured four consecutive wins, and won’t have lost in over a month by the time this fixture comes around – that defeat coming against Newtown – but they’ll have to be at their most focussed if they’re to come away from Deeside with any points.
Morrison's side meanwhile head into what could be a defining period of their season over the next two weeks, with an IRN-BRU Cup Quarter-Final and Nathaniel MG Cup Semi-Final during that spell. A big result tomorrow would be just the start they'd want. How do you see this one going?
With only one defeat in their last five, Newtown's form sits in stark contrast to Llanelli's, who have garnered only one win in their last five, and the Reds will want to do everything they can to put their difficult run, which culminated in a 6-0 thrashing at Deeside last weekend with a threadbare squad, behind them.
Draws in their last two games against The New Saints and Cefn Druids (away) would be credible results for any team, and scores that most sides would be happy with, but the Robins will have felt that they could have got much more from both games and perhaps come away with six points from the two encounters instead of two.
They are still very good results nonetheless, however, and Newtown are guaranteed to still have a place inside the top six regardless of what they do this weekend, but a win for the Robins would be hugely welcome to all at Latham Park as it would see them keep pace with the four sides above them and perhaps close the gap on one or two of them too.
The Reds meanwhile just need to get a point from somewhere to stop the losing run. They're still missing a few players, with Joe Clarke and Anthony Finselbach serving the final games of their respective suspensions.
Could the Old Gold have turned a corner this season? They bagged their first win since September in MD13 as they edge a seven-goal thriller against Caernarfon at Richmond Park, to follow up from a draw at Cyncoed Campus against Cardiff Met. They welcome Cefn Druids to Carmarthenshire on Saturday looking to avenge the 4-0 defeat they came away from Rhosymedre with on MD6.
Late goals seem to be a recurring motif in Druids games this season. The Ancients have dropped five points already to goals scored in or after the 90th minute, two of which came last week against Newtown.
They have however managed to consistently pick up points in recent weeks, with three draw games and a win in their last five fixtures, but Huw Griffiths’ side probably have one of the toughest run-ins to the end of Phase One as any other team in the league, with this fixture against Neil Smothers’ side being the first of two trips to south-west Wales in succession.
Another Sunday capital clash, but this time we have Neville Powell’s high-flying Aberystwyth Town as the visitors to Cyncoed Campus, and they will definitely be confident after the little bit of history they made last weekend, with their first home win over The New Saints in 11 years.
What a result it was for the Seasiders, and – interestingly – when we caught up with Aber manager Nev Powell this week, he credited the development of his side in terms of their work off the ball that posed TNS such problems last week as having started as result of the win Met secured over the Seasiders at Park Avenue way back in MD2.
They will be looking forward to this fixture then to see just how far their hard work has taken them and whether or not it can transpire into a win over the Archers and also extend their unbeaten run in the league to five.
For Met, they will have been bitterly disappointed with the defeat against Bala last weekend, particularly as they missed a number of good chances in the first half, and will be very keen to put it right.
Their squad is looking much more like its usual full strength self now, even though of course there are still players out missing as there is in every team, so sooner or later the Archers are surely going to click and start performing like the team that took the league by storm last season. Might that side make an appearance on Sunday against Aber?
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