A defining weekend at both ends of the WPL table

This weekend could be the most defining weekend of the season in Welsh Premier with two games in particular likely to have an impact on how the final league table will look at the end of April.

The Welsh Premier, being the Welsh Premier however, means that nothing is absolutely straightforward and the headline game of the weekend between second-placed Bala Town and leader’s TNS is believed to be in doubt – so much so that Sgorio have already shifted their live television coverage 35 miles up the road to Broughton for Airbus’ clash with Connah’s Quay.

Bala Town vs. TNS is undoubtedly the game of the weekend, make no mistake – should the Maes Tegid pitch survive expected heavy rain and although Bala have never beaten the Saints in the WPL, a win for the Lakesiders would see them cut TNS’s lead at the top of the table to just three points. A win for TNS however would put them nine points clear with seven games to go – and that would be good enough, in my view, for them to seal a fifth WPL title in a row.

Bala face quite a task if they are to force open the doors for a title race,q especially when considering how TNS disposed of Newtown last weekend.

Greg Draper is the man of the moment for Craig Harrison’s side. So often biding his time on the bench whilst Michael Wilde leads the line, the New Zealander has grabbed his latest opportunity of a run in the side firmly, scoring five goals in their last two games! With Wilde also on the scoresheet in last Saturday’s emphatic win, Craig Harrison will be pondering how to accommodate his two centre-forwards, but surely Draper must be given a start?

At the bottom of the table, all eyes will be on Rhyl and their newly appointed 24-year-old manager Niall McGuiness (and his dad!) who takes charge for the first time in a crucial match down in South Wales against Port Talbot.

Rhyl are in real trouble and the decision to replace Gareth Owen seems to be a last throw of the dice by the Belle Vue club as they face the side immediately above them in the table.

The appointment of McGuiness just seems a huge gamble and I just can’t see how someone, despite his coaching credentials, has enough experience to pull a senior group of first-team players out of the mire in which they find themselves in.

That said, Port Talbot are far from best themselves as they linger nervously above the drop zone, five points ahead of Rhyl. A winning start for McGuiness would cut that gap to just two points and confirm that Port Talbot are indeed in relegation scrap.

Alternatively, a win for the Steelmen would help them breath considerably easier but they must improve from last week’s miserable defeat to Carmarthen Town.

Against the Old Gold, Port Talbot really struggled to make any mark on the game and Andy Dyer was quite right to be disappointed with his side. The arrival of burly veteran centre-back Dave Artell was the only positive that I can think of that night. He’ll bring leadership and organisation to a side which looked lost against Carmarthen and if Artell can drag the side through the next eight games, it’ll be job well done.

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