WPL Play-Off Final: Favourite’s Connah’s Quay host steely Airbus UK

Saturday 5.15 | Connah’s Quay vs. Airbus UK (live on Sgorio/FREE admission)

Connah’s Quay are favourites going into tomorrow’s WPL end of season finale against Airbus, as the Nomads look to secure European football for the first time in their history.

Under an air of expectation at the Deeside Stadium last Sunday, Connah’s Quay delivered what had largely been expected of them as they overcame Carmarthen Town 2-0 to put themselves within touching distance of the €200,000 jackpot on offer for those who reach the Europa League qualifying rounds.

I wrote last week how European qualification would be considered a job well done in Andy Morrison’s first season in charge but the significance of Connah’s Quay reaching Europe could have telling consequences on the Welsh Premier League next season.

Connah’s Quay have designs on establishing themselves as challengers to TNS’s grip on the league and the windfall that the UEFA prize money provides could well accelerate that process. Could European qualification represent a summer of big-budget recruitment at the Nomads, making them a real force for the 2016/17 campaign?

Indeed, one more hurdle now remains for boss Morrison, who must outsmart a familiar face in the opposition dug-out in Andy Preece – who of course worked alongside each other when Morrison was assistant manager at Airbus.

Preece’s Wingmakers are yet to win from two visits to the Deeside Stadium this season but make the short journey with a very good semi-final win under their belts.

Airbus showed that they were able to put their crushing Welsh Cup final defeat behind them as they dug-in deep to edge past a typically determined Newtown. I mentioned in last week’s blog that Airbus needed to be prepared to face a Newtown side who would leave everything out on the pitch and Preece will have been delighted that his side held firm under pressure from the sprited hosts.

Airbus were guilty of inconsistency at during the season and I questioned whether at times they lacked character – on Saturday however they showed character in abundance in order to reach the final and they now have given themselves an excellent platform on which to turn in another winning performance and qualify Europe for a very impressive fourth-straight season.

I’m expecting a very tight game tomorrow and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it go past 90-minutes –expect the closure of the 2015/16 season to be a tense one.

There was interesting WPL news on Thursday evening when Haverfordwest County confirmed the resignation of Wayne Jones, announcing he will become the next manager of Aberystwyth Town, pairing up with Matthew Bishop in a new-look management team at Park Avenue.

I’ve been a big fan of what he achieved this season with a limited Haverfordwest squad and it’ll be interesting to see how Aberystwyth fare under him next season.

The Seasiders meanwhile play their last game on turf at Park Avenue this weekend in a charity event before their 3G installation over the summer.

I’ll have more on Wayne Jones’ appointment in next week’s blog, along with an update from relegated Port Talbot .

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