After a slight delay, here are the latest Power Rankings taking into account all games over the festive period which takes us neatly up to tomorrow’s final round of Phase 1 fixtures.
We now have a good idea of how the two conferences will look after the league split and with the exception of TNS, the competition at both ends of the table could become fierce.
I spoke to Mark Aizlewood earlier this week, who made the interesting point that there will be real pressure on all six managers in the Play-Off Conference this season given the fact that all six clubs are at risk of relegation. He’ll of course be hoping that his Carmarthen side aren’t going to be amongst those teams scrapping it out with the Old Gold needing just a draw against Cefn Druids to book their top-six place. They are the biggest climbers in this week’s ranking jumping up to fourth.
Finally, I would like to announce that this will be my last post on Inside the WPL as I will now be providing WPL coverage and insight over at Dai-Sport.com. For those unaware, Dai Sport is a fairly new website covering all levels of Welsh sport so I’m delighted to covering the WPL for them. The Power Rankings and everything else will continue there, so thanks to all the regular readers here and I’ll see you over at Dai Sport!
#1 (Last week: 1) THE NEW SAINTS
W 4-0 v Cefn Druids (H); W 2-0 v Cefn Druids (A)
27 games and 27 wins was what it took for TNS to enter the record books and gain the attention of media outlets from around the world in what truly is a remarkable story. There was little doubt in my mind that the Saints would be able to surpass Ajax’s record going into their festive double-header with Cefn Druids, as Craig Harrison’s men eased themselves into the New Year. Just how long can their run continue?
#2 (Last week: 3) CONNAH’S QUAY
W 3-0 v Airbus (A); W 5-1 v Airbus (H).
Andy Morrison will be very pleased with what his side delivered in their back-to-back games over Airbus. Two commanding wins see’s the Nomads go three-points clear in second place in the table and they appear to be in good shape as Phase 2 nears.
#3 (Last week: 2) BALA TOWN
W 6-1 v Rhyl (H); L 2-0 v Rhyl (A)
Bala recorded one of their most comfortable win over the season when Rhyl visited Maes Tegid as they picked up an impressive eighth-straight WPL win but came unstuck in the return fixture as Rhyl pulled of, what was the result of the festive season, stunning the Lakesiders into a two-goal defeat.
#4 (Last week: 6) CARMARTHEN TOWN
D 0-0 v Cardiff Met (H); W 3-1 Cardiff Met (A)
I’ve highlighted Carmarthen’s work-rate and commitment repeatedly and after two solid performances against Cardiff Met, Mark Aizlewood’s well-drilled side are on the verge of clinching a top-six spot needing just a point from their final game to sign off what has been a very impressive first phase from the Old Gold.
#5 (Last week: 4) BANGOR CITY
W 2-1 v Llandudno (H); L 1-0 v Llandudno (A)
Two narrow encounters against neighbours Llandudno brought with it mixed results causing City to lose ground to second-placed Connah’s Quay, with a six-point game now separating Bangor from the automatic European spot.
#6 (Last week: 5) CARDIFF MET
D 0-0 v Carmarthen (A); L 3-1 v Carmarthen (H)
Although results elsewhere secured Cardiff Met their top-six spot (and deservedly so), the Met weren’t firing on all cylinders against Carmarthen Town. Christian Edwards will be looking for his side to return to form as the head into an unforgiving Championship Conference.
#7 (Last week: 7) LLANDUDNO
L 2-1 v Bangor City (A); W 1-0 v Bangor City (H)
Llandudno had been going along nicely until Bala sent them packing from Maes Tegid with a 3-0 defeat last weekend. The race for that final top-six spot is shaping up to be a straight shoot-out between themselves and Carmarthen, with both sides having three games remaining adding extra importance to their forthcoming festive derbies with Bangor City.
#8 (Last week: 9) CEFN DRUIDS
L 4-0 TNS (A); L 2-0 TNS (H); W 1-0 Aberystwyth (A)
Cefn Druids were never expected to take anything from their double-header against TNS – that proved to be the case and Huw Griffiths wouldn’t have been overly concerned. He will however have been delighted with a good win at Aberystwyth last weekend and the Ancients head into Phase 2 with their confidence boosted.
#9 (Last week: 8) NEWTOWN
L 1-0 v Aberystwyth (A); D 2-2 Aberystwyth (H)
Injury and suspension ravaged Newtown came through their two closely contested Mid-Wales derbies. They remain in the bottom two but the Robins will be that hoping the combination of their new signings and easing selection worries will allow them to push up the table in the New Year.
#10 (Last week: 10) RHYL
L 6-1 v Bala (A); W 2-0 v Bala (H)
Rhyl were able to give their supporters some festive cheer when Niall McGuinness’ side ended their latest slump in form with a fine win over high-flying Bala – a result any team in the league would gladly take. With new signings on board, will they able to maintain some consistent form?
#11 (Last week: 12) ABERYSTWYTH TOWN
W 1-0 v Newtown (H); D 2-2 Newtown (A); L 1-0 Cefn Druids (H)
Aberystwyth Town are bracing themselves to spend Phase 2 in the Play-Off Conference after blowing the opportunity to take a top-six spot. A late Cefn Druids goal proved costly but with a favourable fixture run-in which saw them with games in-hand over top-six chasing rivals, Aber have themselves to blame for missing the cut. The squad have undergone a shake-up since the opening of the transfer window – now they must shake off that top-six hangover to compete in a tricky second phase.
#12 (Last week: 11) AIRBUS UK
L 3-0 v Connah’s Quay (H); L 5-1 v Connah’s Quay (A)
It was always going to be a difficult task for the Wingmakers to hold their own against uncompromising Connah’s Quay as so it proved. The worry for Airbus is that they’ve now lost their last nine (10 all comps) and remain adrift at the football of the table. The New Year must bring with it a dramatic up-turn in form to prevent Airbus slipping out of the WPL.
Feature image courtesy of Brian Jones/TNS/Welsh Premier League