The rankings are starting to mirror the league table with the first phase of the season nearing the halfway point. TNS predictably remain top of the pile but Connah’s Quay now move up into second spot for the first time this season. Airbus are the biggest climbers this week while Llandudno are the biggest fallers, Newtown, like the WPL table, now find themselves bottom of the ladder.
#1 THE NEW SAINTS
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 1st)
24 points became 27 last weekend with an expected win over Carmarthen, though the contest was perhaps closer than many would’ve anticipated. TNS will be disappointed with the goal they conceded and they also very nearly allowed Carmarthen back into the game after Simon Spender’s stray pass across the goal was intercepted; on the positive side, Greg Draper and Alex Darlington continue to impress and their 100% remains intact for another week!
#2 CONNAH’S QUAY
This week: UP ONE (last week 3rd)
As Andy Morrison spelt out after their home win over Rhyl, the Nomads remain unbeaten, have the best defensive record in the league and have the second best goals for record in the league. Perhaps most importantly they remain on the coattails of TNS and have refused to let that eight-point gap widen. They do still seem to be playing very direct in my opinion, something which we’ve seen backfire on them, but for now at least it appears to be working and having the desired effect.
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 2nd)
Rhyl were handed their first defeat in six league outings against Connah’s Quay – a match in which Niall McGuinness felt his side were not at their best. With injuries mounting in midfield, the Rhyl boss will be hoping that his Lilywhites team don’t lose any of the momentum which they’ve gained over the last few weeks. They can expect another test of their character against Cefn Druids this week – getting to the top-end of the table is one thing, staying there is even harder!
#4 BANGOR CITY
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 4th)
An improved performance last week saw Bangor take a point at Bala Town but after creating several chances, should they have taken all three and had the game settled before Bala pulled themselves back level? The positives in the performance will outweigh the negatives but until the start turning key chances into goals, Bangor will continue to frustrate their fans and remain a side who’ll drop points. A step in the right direction however and good to see Christian Langos on song again.
#5 CARDIFF MET
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 5th)
Make that three straight wins now after Chris Bakes looping shot edged the Students past Aberystwyth. As we’ve already seen with Rhyl this season, confidence and self-belief cannot be underestimated in the WPL and Cardiff Met are emerging into a dangerous looking side. Christian Edwards will now be demanding more of the same from his squad as Phase 1 of the season nears the halfway point – top-six ensures WPL survival!
#6 BALA TOWN
This week: UP ONE (last week 7th)
A large crowd gathered for the reopening of Maes Tegid as Bala fought back for a point against Bangor City, but it’s just not been Bala’s season so far. Colin Caton again bemoaned the number of injuries his side are carrying and acknowledged that they still aren’t quite firing on all cylinders – he must be one of the most frustrated manager’s in the league right now.
#7 AIRBUS UK
This week: UP THREE (last week 10th)
Andrew Thomas will certainly be enjoying life as Airbus manager a touch more, now that his side have taken seven points from their last three WPL outings. A good 4-2 win over Newtown last time out saw the Wingmakers maintain their form and in adopting a back-three system, Thomas’ side look far more comfortable. News that Tony Gray extended his contract at the club is a massive boost to the Wingmakers. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare over the next few weeks – I have a feeling they could do pretty well.
#8 CEFN DRUIDS
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 8th)
Druids did what they do best last week – and drew again, this time holding out for a point at Llandudno. That result was their fifth draw of the season. It was interesting that both two proven WPL forwards Ashley Ruane and Aaron Bowen started from the bench for the Ancients – the side look compact and hard to break down but with just one victory to their name so far, Druids must do more to hurt teams if they’re to get more points up on the board.
This week: DOWN THREE (last week 6th)
Alan Morgan was forced to endure another frustrating afternoon on Matchday 9 when his side just couldn’t force their way past stubborn Cefn Druids. Llandudno are picking up points here and there along the way but I believe their current sixth-place mid-table position is a false one and regardless of how long is left of the season, four goals in nine games has to be a concern.
#10 ABERYSTWYTH TOWN
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 9th)
Aberystwyth Town appear to have turned the corner putting in a competitive display against Cardiff Met last Saturday, despite narrowly losing 1-0. They’ll be hoping in-form Geoff Kellaway – who’s enjoyed his new central role – won’t be sidelined for too long after limping off at the weekend. Aberystwyth must keep the momentum going and avoid slipping back into that disastrous patch of form at all costs.
#11 CARMARTHEN TOWN
This week: UP ONE (last week 12th)
I had to fend off some criticism last week as some felt the decision to place Carmarthen at the foot of the rankings was a harsh one. A heavy defeat – admittedly with a weakened squad – and the performance of other clubs below them impacted up on their position. They could’ve folded again last Sunday when they travelled to TNS, but a gritty and committed performance in which they came close to even snatching a draw suggests that their blip is behind them. Now off the bottom of the rankings, is it safe for me to go back to Richmond Park yet?!
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 11th)
The Robins slipped to bottom of the WPL table after their defeat against Airbus. It’s still too early to be worried about their prospects this season and you’d expect them to be able to pick up a couple of wins and turn the corner, especially given the fact Jason Oswell has 8 goals in 9 games to his name this season. This is a good squad but there’s little doubt that they’re currently underachieving – their record of just one league win so far this season just isn’t good enough.
Featured image courtesy of Newtown AFC/Dave Evans.