First blog in ages sorry with the usual lame work commitments excuse! You can tweet me your Play-Off Final views and predictions via @1matthewburgess
After nine months of action, the 2014/15 Welsh Premier League season draws to a conclusion this weekend with the Europa League Play-Off Final as Aberystwyth Town and Newtown contest for the league’s final European qualification spot and the cool €200,000 prize fund that goes with it.
The game will be televised live from Park Avenue on Sgorio at Sunday, 1pm – I’ve picked some of the key players from each side who I expect can make a big impact in what is perhaps the biggest game of the Welsh domestic season.
#10 Chris VENABLES, Aberystwyth Town
Labelled as the best player in the league by Chris Hughes in the build-up to this game this week, few would disagree with the Newtown manager’s assessment of Aberystwyth’s star-man, as Chris Venables continues to thrive playing as the central attacking midfielder in Aber’s tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 formation. He comfortably topped the WPL scoring charts having posted 28 goals this season and will shortly be picking up the Golden Boot for a second successive year. Newtown will have to try and keep Venables under wraps if they are to win.
#4 Matty OWEN, Newtown
In young Matty Owen, Newtown have one of the best new talents in the league on their books. He’s caught my eye on numerous occasions in what’s been a polished debut season from the midfielder. Owen is assured in possession and has good delivery from set-pieces, and despite still being only 20-years-old, his steady form has made him an increasingly important figure within the Robins’ squad. A cool, all-action performance from the former Wrexham and Cefn Druids man would certainly help Newtown’s cause.
#5 Stuart JONES, Aberystwyth Town
Something of a Euro veteran from his time at Llanelli, Stuart Jones will be handed the responsibility of stewarding a defence which, much to the disappointment of manager Ian Hughes, has been shipping goals in the latter stages of the season. The fact that Jones has not had a regular partner for much of that time will have been a contributing factor as Stephen Wright, Sion James and veteran Wyn Thomas have all featured alongside the Aber captain in the centre of the Seasiders’ defence. Newtown lacked spark in their exhausting semi-final against Port Talbot, but will believe they can ask some serious questions of an Aberystwyth defence which has conceded 14 goals in their last six games.
#6 Shane SUTTON, Newtown
The Newtown skipper is regarded as one of the best central defenders in the WPL and is expected to return to the side after a late red card in the Welsh Cup final left him unavailable for last weekend’s semi-final. He will be expected to partner Kieran Mills-Evans in the heart of the Newtown defence and his leadership qualities will be much needed if Newtown are to hold firm against Aberystwyth’s potent attack.
#7 Geoff KELLAWAY, Aberystwyth Town
Big games need big performances and Kellaway is that man for Aberystwyth Town. I feel that he struggles with consistency at times but the bigger occasions tend to bring the best out of the winger, who likes to commit defenders and attack down either flank. In centre-forward Mark Jones and Chris Venables, Aber possess players who are clinical in the box – Ian Hughes will be hoping Kellaway is the man to carve the Newtown defence open. Kellaway can potentially be a match-winner here.
#9 Luke BOUNDFORD, Newtown
Like Sutton, Boundford is another member of the Newtown side who Chris Hughes can rely upon to lead by example. Featuring on the right but equally adept at playing as the central striker, Boundford turned in a typical performance in the semi-final where is endless running was rewarded by a well-taken late winning goal. With Aberystwyth’s defence looking vulnerable of late, Boundford has the ability to be a threat from the first minute to the last and provide service to their 18-goal striker Jason Oswell.
See you at Park Avenue!