It’s been another busy two-game week for the majority of the Welsh Premier clubs with many in League Cup action in the rebranded Nathaniel MG Cup. We also saw Craig Harrison and Gary Roberts pick up the first Manager and Player of the Month Awards of the season, so a well deserved congratulations to them both! We kick on then as Matchday 6 approaches with a perhaps unexpected top-of-the table clash between TNS and Bangor – who’d have thought that at the start of the season? Both sides continue to fare well at the top end of the rankings this week but inconsistent results throughout the league make the rest of the ladder less predictable – here’s the full list!
#1 THE NEW SAINTS
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 1st)
Five games, 15 points and a Manager of the Month award to cement what has been a truly impressive start from the champions. The worrying thing for the remaining sides is that there could be more to come – fit-again Alex Darlington, one of my favourite WPL players to watch in recent years netted twice in their win at Airbus on Sunday, as he returns from a lengthy lay-off, and a first appearance from new striker Wes Fletcher means that competition for places and desire to succeed remains as high as ever.
#2 BANGOR CITY
This week: UP ONE (last week 3rd)
The Citizens continue to fly up the rankings with their start to the season even surprising Andy Legg, who is fast approaching a messiah-like status with the Bangor City faithful. Gary Roberts continued his excellent form with a brace as City made light work of Aberystwyth Town. Legg named a second-string side which saw them edge past Prestatyn on penalties in a dramatic encounter on Wednesday night, his focus is quite rightly on Sunday’s clash with TNS – win that and the City fans will be putting in planning permission for a statue!
This week: UP THREE (last week 6th)
From winless and goalless, Alan Morgan’s men have now won back-to-back games keeping successive clean sheets in the process, such is football! That grey looking ‘second season syndrome’ cloud appears to be lifting over Maesdu Park, and when Marc Williams finally finds his scoring boots the sun will surely shine again over last season’s surprise package.
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 4th)
I don’t know quite what to make of Newtown who please and disappoint in equal measure having won just once in their opening five games. The Robins were again left frustrated last weekend when a fine performance from in-form keeper Michael Jones denied them all of three points in their 1-1 draw with Cefn Druids, but Newtown did at least pick up a midweek win against Welsh League Pontypridd Town. That victory, along with the return of Kieran Mills-Evans, Ross Stephens and Luke Boundford, should give them a lift as they head to Llandudno in search of three points this weekend.
#5 CONNAH’S QUAY
This week: DOWN THREE (last week 2nd)
Last Saturday’s big game against Bala felt like an opportunity wasted for Connah’s Quay, who turned in a curiously underwhelming performance in front of the live TV cameras. They conceded their first goal of the season in disappointing fashion early on and it took a 75th-minute penalty from Matty Williams for them restore parity. Despite playing much of the second-half with a man advantage, the Nomads looked one dimensional and lacked spark – much to the annoyance of Andy Morrison, who was seething immediately after the final whistle in a blunt touchline interview with Nicky John. From a side who promise so much, the Nomads came up way short here.
#6 CEFN DRUIDS
This week: UP TWO (last week 8th)
I’ve been really impressed with how the Druids are coping so far in the top-flight and they extended their unbeaten league run to four last weekend with a 1-1 draw at Newtown. Aaron Bowen scored his first goal with a typical bustling drive into the box followed by a composed finish and a top-drawer display from stopper Michael Jones ensures they have confidence at both ends of the field. A 5-3 victory midweek against Holywell kept the momentum going but in the bread and butter of the WPL, they’re right in the thick of things in mid-table and Huw Griffiths must be delighted.
#7 BALA TOWN
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 7th)
Still someway off the top of the table, Bala will be the happier of the two sides in last weekend’s unspectacular draw at Connah’s Quay. Chris Venables scored his first goals in Bala colours midweek hitting three against Flint Town in the Nathaniel MG Cup, the Lakesiders now need to rediscover their ruthless form of last season starting with this Saturday’s visit of Cefn Druids.
#8 CARMARTHEN TOWN
This week: DOWN THREE (last week 5th)
A 1-0 loss to Llandudno was nothing to write home about last weekend though Mark Aizlewood’s strong words condemning winger Kyle Bassett’s needless sending off did make for an interesting listen. They say the league table doesn’t lie but Carmarthen are a better side than their record of just one win suggests – they need to start getting more points up on the board before the league table starts telling the truth!
This week: UP THREE (last week 12th)
Niall McGuinness must be delighted with his side’s response to their embarrassing defeat to TNS a fortnight ago as two straight WPL wins have boosted both their confidence and their league position. Their new squad are developing a sense of self-belief and togetherness and although you worry about their lack of proven WPL quality, they’re answering their critics the best way possible.
#10 ABERYSTWYTH TOWN
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 9th)
Aberystwyth’s dip in form continued when they were swept aside by Bangor City on Matchday 5 that left them facing a potential banana skin in the Nathaniel MG Cup with a trip to local rivals Penrhyncoch. They overcome that test with a 2-1 win and now the new-look management team will be asking their new-look squad to iron out their form against Carmarthen.
#11 AIRBUS UK
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 10th)
Despite a 4-1 defeat to TNS, there were some encouraging signs for Airbus after a good first-half saw them go in at the break in front. Tuesday’s cup defeat to Guilsfield was another setback however and the Wingmakers must now pick themselves up in front of the live TV cameras this weekend when they face a progressively improving Rhyl side – not an easy task when you’ve lost four on the bounce.
#12 CARDIFF MET
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 11th)
A late defeat up at Rhyl last weekend may have hit Cardiff Met hard and it was the first time this season that I can recall Christian Edwards being critical of his side’s application. Confidence appears to be slipping and that’s mainly due to their lack of goals in the side. Striker John Littlemore hit two as they eased to a 5-0 win over Welsh League Taffs Well in the week. If he can carry that form in the WPL, Cardiff Met will become a lot more competitive.
MD5: Bangor 4-0 Aberystwyth, Carmarthen 0-1 Llandudno, Connah’s Quay 1-1 Bala, Airbus 1-4 TNS, Newtown 1-1 Cefn Druids, Rhyl 1-0 Cardiff Met.
Nathaniel MG Cup round one: Flint 1-5 Bala, Guilsfield 2-1 Airbus, Llandudno 2-1 Holyhead, Caernarfon 1-5 Rhyl, Cardiff Met 5-0 Taffs Well, Holywell 3-5 Cefn Druids, Penrhyncoch 1-2 Aberystwyth, Prestatyn 4-4 (5-7 pens) Bangor.
Featured image courtesy of Connah’s Quay/NCM Media.