Aberystwyth Town face The New Saints at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium tomorrow (3.00) in what has the makings of an immensely entertaining final. Aberystwyth and TNS are the two sides that I’ve enjoyed watching most this season and here are three key battles which I believe will be crucial to deciding where the 127-year-old cup will end up.
Simon SPENDER vs Geoff KELLAWAY
Saints right-back Simon Spender will have his work cut out on Saturday afternoon when he comes up against ‘the Aberystwyth Express’. Kellaway has been in explosive form this season and has been at the top of his game troubling full-backs up and down the principality. There’ll be no doubt that he’ll be ear-marked as one of Aberystwyth’s biggest dangermen, reigning havoc as he switches from right flank to left throughout matches. It’s when he is operating on the left, I believe he is most dangerous, cutting into the opposition area and pulling players out. Spender, a full-back who likes to get forward, in TNS’ flowing attacks will need to be at his disciplined best to prevent Kellaway exploiting the open space he leaves behind him.
Stuart JONES vs Michael WILDE
Jones has been a near ever-present fixture in the centre of Aberystwyth defence and after a difficult first season at Park Avenue, he has been able to rediscover the form he showed at former club Llanelli. He’ll be needing to pull out a commanding performance of the highest order when he comes up against TNS’ lone-striker Michael Wilde, who I expect will get the nod of Greg Draper. Wilde works tirelessly spearheading The New Saints’ attack and with their flowing movement and short interchanging of passes inside the final-third, Wilde will often fade out of games before coming alive and poaching goals with his sharp finishing. Concentration will be critical if Jones is to deny the TNS marksman.
Chris SEARGEANT vs Chris VENABLES
Venables will be the forerunner for this season’s player of the year award following a season-best goalscoring campaign, where he won the Golden Boot with 24-goals – not bad for a midfielder! Venables has thrived under Aberystwyth manager Ian Hughes’ 4-2-3-1 system, with a licence to get forward, and if The New Saints can nullify the threat of Venables then, the chances of the Saints’ completing a league and cup double suddenly becomes a far more attractive proposition. Former Everton reserve Chris Seargeant is the more conservative of the Saints’ all-star midfield-trio and it will be his responsibility to shackle the Aberystwyth number seven. Seargeant is a disciplined and solid two-way player and the final will make for an excellent duel between two of the best midfielders in Welsh Premier League.