Play-off bound Carmarthen can brighten miserable Welsh Premier season in South Wales

Tuesday’s rearranged fixture with TNS gives Carmarthen the opportunity to lift the gloom over Welsh Premier League football in South Wales – finishing third would see the Old Gold enter the play-offs as the highest-seeded club.

After Saturday’s match surprisingly fell foul of the weather, Carmarthen go into tomorrow night’s game with champions The New Saints knowing a win will see them overtake Bangor City and claim third-spot in the table.

A third-place finish and theWord Cup trophy would be considered as a good return by Mark Aizlewood’s squad but a return to European football would transform a good campaign into an excellent one for the Richmond Park club.

Though the side spiralled on an appalling run of form in the second-half of the season losing eight straight games, Carmarthen have since redeemed themselves, winning their last four, to leave a third-place finish within grasp.

The rearrangement of the fixture for The New Saints is an untimely one. If last Saturday’s scheduled encounter was an opportunity for final preparation ahead of the Welsh Cup final, a midweek visit to Carmarthen will be seen as nothing more than a hindrance, and it remains to be seen what sort of squad the league champions will travel with.

Although fourth-place finish for Carmarthen would guarantee home advantage for their first play-off game, third spot would ensure they play at Richmond Park for both play-off games – a considerable advantage, given that they are South Wales’ sole representatives to claim the season’s final European spot.

It’s generally been a season of disappointment though in the south, with the presence of Welsh Premier League football further diminishing.

Even before being officially demoted, it was widely expected Afan Lido would face the drop this year with a modest, inexperienced squad ravaged by selection problems on an almost weekly basis. Lido were simply unable to compete at this level but the biggest disappointment of all is seeing Haverfordwest County being unable to make the step up.

There’s been a similar feeling of failure at neighbouring Port Talbot Town with the Steelmen finishing a season which can only be described as inexplicable given the quality and size of their squad.

As the Port Talbot players thanked the club’s fans for their impressive support through the season, following their 2-1 win over Bala, you sensed that there were more than a few permanent farewells from the players and I expect just a handful of the current squad to remain next season.

Having secured their WPL status, the club must now undergo a long summer of planning and rebuilding. And I expect that will begin with the long-term appointment of Jarred Harvey as manager which should be confirmed sooner rather than later, putting an end to speculation linking former Newtown boss Bernard McNally with the post.

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