It’s been a fascinating week in the WPL with two rounds of fixtures being played in very quick succession. TNS aside, a quick glance at the league table will confirm there’s as much as a cigarette paper between the majority of clubs with just two points separating eight of the 12 teams, which begs the question: is this a by-product of a league which is growing in standard, or does that lack of consistency represent a lower standard of football? I believe it signals the former but either way, the WPL is becoming closer than ever except for the very top of the table where TNS continue to impress with authority. They of course remain ranked #1 this week but given the sheer closeness of the league across the rest of the league there’s plenty of scope to disagree with my rankings! Feel free to send me your views via Twitter or in the comments section below.
#1 THE NEW SAINTS
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 1st)
Prior to the last two rounds TNS had assumed a six-point lead with six straight victories. Roll forward seven days and you can now make that eight wins from eight after they comfortably beat Bala Town at home before mixing it up in the return fixture, showing the other side to their game in a 2-0 win on Tuesday night – a game in which Craig Harrison felt was their best performance to date.
This week: UP FOUR (last week 6th)
Niall McGuiness and his Rhyl side remain the talk of the WPL after staging a comeback to draw 3-3 at Newtown before picking up perhaps the result of their season to date by seeing over Bangor City in the North Wales derby. This a largely unproven side assembled on a modest budget with a relatively inexperienced young manager – five unbeaten now and sitting pretty in third. Rhyl’s turnaround has been the storyline of the season so far.
#3 CONNAH’S QUAY
This week: UP TWO (last week 3rd)
Connah’s Quay have now gone eight WPL games unbeaten– something they’re not perhaps getting enough credit for as they sit in the shadow of TNS’s irresistible start. Maybe it’s because of the downright bad luck the side have suffered with injuries but for me, they’re still not quite there in terms of where I’d expected them to be at the start of the season and I suspect Andy Morrison might tend to agree. It does seem however as soon as they get a player back fit then they lose another. Ian Kearney, Callum Morris and Matty Williams being the latest names to go on the injury list this week, but with Michael Wilde now back fit again, it’ll be interesting to see if he and Les Davies form the attacking partnership which promises so much on paper.
#4 BANGOR CITY
This week: DOWN TWO (last week 2nd)
The Citizens have stuttered since TNS knocked the wind out of their sails, drawing down in Carmarthen before suffering a midweek defeat to rivals Rhyl. Bangor simply aren’t taking their chances right now and it’s costing them.
#5 CARDIFF MET
This week: UP FIVE (last week 10th)
It’s been a huge week for the Students as they finally clinched an historic first WPL win. Much like the proverbial buses, more was to come from Christian Edwards’ side as they repeated the feat two days later recording their first home win at the expense of Newtown in front of a bumper crowd. Confidence will have undoubtedly been lifted and if they can become a consistent threat up-front, the Met have the potential to develop into a dangerous outfit.
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 4th)
After scoring 15 WPL goals last season, it’s taken star-striker Marc Williams until Matchday 8 to open his goal account this season and that is chiefly where Llandudno’s problems lie. A home defeat to Cardiff Met was followed up by a respectable point at Connah’s Quay but with just four goals in eight games it’s difficult to ignore the sense of vulnerability that Llandudno have about them right now.
#7 BALA TOWN
This week: DOWN TWO (last week 5th)
Back to back defeats against TNS wasn’t a surprise by any stretch and the Lakesiders felt their performance in Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat gives them something to build on. Colin Caton has called for his side to be judged at Christmas as ongoing selection problems hamstring their campaign but the fact is that they have currently been off the pace and remain short of goals. Can their return back to Maes Tegid this week spark an upturn in fortunes?
#8 CEFN DRUIDS
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 7th)
I must admit that I haven’t been able to have seen as much of Cefn Druids as I would’ve liked at this stage but I wonder from an outside perspective, if they have enough about them to regularly shut opposing teams down and hurt them going forward? They showed plenty of spirit and fight to push Airbus close in both their recent games – coming back from two down to draw 2-2 on Tuesday – the next few weeks could prove telling.
#9 ABERYSTWYTH TOWN
This week: UP TWO (last week 11th)
Just how do you rate Aberystwyth Town’s week? A 4-0 whitewash at Connah’s Quay was their fourth straight WPL defeat as their alarming drop off in form showed no sign of ending, but just days later the Green and Blacks incredibly pulled off one of the shocks of the season so far by thrashing Carmarthen 5-0 at Richmond Park; an incredible result but one that just didn’t make any sense at all. The question now is to what extent can they repeat that form? A bewildering week if you’re an Aberystwyth Town supporter.
#10 AIRBUS UK
This week: UP TWO (last week 12th)
It seemed the two games against Cefn Druids would prove telling as to the current state of this Airbus side. A return of four points ended their poor run and clearly outweighed the negatives – with the team twice struggling under late pressure. Andrew Thomas will be looking to draw some momentum and consistency on the back those performances.
This week: DOWN TWO (last week 9th)
I wrote last week that Newtown were a difficult team to analyse and I again still don’t know quite what to make of them, though their lack of wins is beginning to become a concern. A 3-3 draw with Rhyl was a mixed result as they gave up a two-goal lead and a defeat against Cardiff Met midweek saw them continue to drop points. Jason Oswell is currently the league’s form striker but Chris Hughes must be scratching his head over his side’s inconsistency.
#12 CARMARTHEN TOWN
This week: DOWN FOUR (last week 8th)
Carmarthen appear to be fading after showing signs of promise just a few weeks ago. A strange draw against Bangor was followed up by an unexpected 5-0 collapse at home to struggling Aberystwyth which was way below their own standards. Mark Aizlewood will have been banging heads after that outing and I suspect he’ll be banging a few more together if his team continue to under-perform in that manner. We’ve come to expect better from the Old Gold.
Featured image courtesy of Carmarthen Town/Welsh Premier League