This coming weekend sees a reduced fixture list and a chance for most of the WPL clubs to regroup over the international break. Welsh involvement in the brand new Irn-Bru Cup commences on Saturday and will provide a new test for TNS and Bala Town. Both of which remain unchanged in this week’s rankings with TNS again assuming top-spot and Bala sitting in the middle of the pack in sixth, as they do in the WPL table. There were some tough decisions to be made this week with Airbus, Cefn Druids and Llandudno all vying for places so as per usual let me know your views and whether you disagree, and thanks for taking the time to read.
#1 THE NEW SAINTS
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 1st)
I’m running out of good things to say about TNS as they continue to do their talking on the pitch with ten-straight wins now. Craig Harrison was announced Manager of the Month this week before he reshuffled his side for their midweek win over Bala Town in the Nathaniel MG Cup. A visit this weekend to Forfar Athletic in the new Irn-Bru Cup competition will represent a fresh and perhaps welcome challenge for the Saints.
#2 CONNAH’S QUAY
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 2nd)
If it wasn’t for Connah’s Quay’s resilience then I believe the league title would be all but wrapped up but whilst the Nomads continue to grind out wins, TNS are unable to completely march out of sight. A narrow 1-0 win over Carmarthen saw Connah’s Quay clinch their seventh clean-sheet in 10 games this season and if they can keep this form going until the end of the month, when they face TNS, the top of the table could become a lot more interesting.
#3 BANGOR CITY
This week: UP ONE (last week 4th)
Bangor’s performances appear to have picked up of late and they did well to deliver a home win against an Cardiff Met outfit who’ve been in the ascendancy. Daniel Nardiello has been pivotal to Bangor netting three in his last two – should he continue to fire in his chance, Bangor should be able to close in on a top-six spot. A League Cup win over Cefn Druids keeps alive City’s hopes of silverware.
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 3rd)
The Lilywhites were on the wrong end of a thrilling 4-3 against Cefn Druids on Friday night before advancing into the last eight of the Nathaniel MG Cup with a 1-0 win over Llandudno. Despite two defeats on the bounce in the WPL, there isn’t too much to be concerned about. Well done to midfielder Alex Jones on winning Player of the Month too!
#5 CARDIFF MET
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 5th)
The Met gained a lot of plaudits for the manner in which they snapped their winless run and went on to take nine points from three games, but it’ll be interesting to see now how Christian Edwards’ squad respond to a defeat at a good Bangor side and a midweek setback to Barry Town in the Nathaniel MG Cup. After those wins, they look at home in the WPL, now let’s see what their made of!
#6 BALA TOWN
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 6th)
Colin Caton gives the impression of being a laid-back character but he will definitely be feeling the weight off his shoulders as his squad edge closer towards a clean bill of health. A slender victory over Newtown was just the third of the season for mid-table Bala. It remains to be seen whether their Irn-Bru Cup commitments – starting with the visit of Alloa Athletic to Maes Tegid on Saturday – will help the Lakesiders push on or prove to be a distraction.
#7 CEFN DRUIDS
This week: UP ONE (last week 8th)
I mentioned last week about the need for Cefn Druids to do more to hurt teams in order to claim more wins and a rampant 4-3 win against Rhyl last week demonstrated just that. At risk of repeating myself, I think Ashley Ruane and Aaron Bowen are potentially top talents at this level and Huw Griffiths seems to have both firing. If Druids can maintain this sort of form then they have a good chance of staying out of the danger zone this season, something few would’ve predicted in August. A 3-2 League Cup defeat to Bangor midweek brought an end to hopes of an early crack of silverware but their main focus will be the league.
#8 AIRBUS UK
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 7th)
Airbus participated in one of the games of the season last weekend when they were narrowly beaten 3-2 by Llandudno. The match provided an insight into their new shape which I believe will help Airbus improve their form. If they can maintain the same performance levels going into the next few games there’s reason for optimism.
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 9th)
It’s perhaps harsh that Llandudno have not climbed up the rankings this week after the club lifted the growing sense of doom and gloom in a thrilling 90-minute performance on the weekend in which they beat Airbus 3-2 – almost doubling their goal tally for the entire WPL season! The performance and manner of the win definitely gives Alan Morgan a platform to shift things forwards and Lewis Buckley’s wonderful winner was a goal worthy of any league at any level. They did slump to a 1-0 loss to Rhyl with a rotated side in the League Cup midweek but given their disappointing start in the league, WPL performances will rightly be their priority.
#10 CARMARTHEN TOWN
This week: UP ONE (last week 11th)
Another committed performance in a difficult away fixture left Mark Aizlewood praising his team’s endeavour despite being narrowly beaten. A midweek Nathaniel MG Cup win over Welsh League Goytre was another box ticked for Aizlewood’s side, who seem to be heading in the right direction.
#11 ABERYSTWYTH TOWN
This week: DOWN ONE (last week 10th)
A 5-1 defeat at TNS won’t lead to any overreaction but the club will be disappointed to have lost to Haverfordwest County in the Nathaniel MG Cup midweek, in what was their third straight defeat. This Aberystwyth team are capable of better and they must tighten up at the back if they’re going to put themselves into serious contention for a top-six spot.
This week: NO CHANGE (last week 12th)
Newtown slumped to their third straight defeat and remain bottom of the table after a being edged out by Bala Town on the weekend, but it seems to me that Chris Hughes’ men just aren’t getting the breaks right now. The league is still too close to have legitimate concerns over Newtown and I don’t believe they are a poor team, but they do need to end this poor run sooner rather than later or they risk seeing their top-six hopes fade. In avoiding a banana skin against Guilsfield midweek, Newtown picked up a rare win and the aim now will be to carry that into the league.
Featured image courtesy of Llandudno FC/Welsh Premier League.