Date: Fri 16 Nov 2012

Corbett Sports WPL Weekend Preview

by Matthew Burgess

Corbett Sports - Proud Sponsors of the WPL

Download:
Corbett Sports - Proud Sponsors of the WPL

There’s a full programme in the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League this coming weekend as the race for the top-six continues, starting with a top-of-the-table clash in North Wales on Friday night.

Bangor City (4/6) welcome Airbus (10/3) to Nantporth in what should be a closely contested affair both teams sitting pretty in the Welsh Premier, in second and fourth respectively. Bangor City sit a point off top and the Citizens seem to be in fine fettle with a 3-0 win against Newtown last time out. Airbus’ preparations have taken a significant setback with October’s Manager of the Month, Andy Preece without suspended first-choice goalkeeper Ben Chapman and his back-up Niky-Lee Bulmer. Third-choice Aaron Morrison is also a fitness doubt, possibly leaving sixteen-year-old Nathan Williams in line for a debut, as his the Wingmakers look to respond to their first defeat in eight, at Carmarthen.

Connah’s Quay (10/11) also feature on Friday, against Newtown (12/5), having shown signs of a turnaround in fortunes against Llanelli last-weekend. On the back of a heavy 6-1 defeat to Port Talbot two weeks ago, the Nomads returned to South Wales last Sunday and thumped a depleted Llanelli side 6-1, with hat-tricks from Jamie Petrie and young hot-shot Rhys Healey . Player/Manager Mark McGregor has urged his side to now push on but they must do so against a Newtown side themselves looking to prise their way into the top-six from their current eighth spot. The Robins completed the signing of TNS central defender Connell Rawlinson on a short-term loan deal whilst Matthew Cooke is returns after a four week lay-off. Connah’s Quay are yet to draw (5/2) in the league this season and the momentum picked up from last Sunday’s win should just about see them through.

The live TV cameras are at Richmond Park this Saturday as Carmarthen (11/4) entertain Prestatyn (4/5). Neil Gibson’s high-flyers maintained their slender one point lead at the top-of-the-table seeing off Llanelli 3-1 in their last game. Despite their lowly league position of tenth, Carmarthen have shown signs of a revival in recent weeks and a League Cup semi-final victory over Llanelli would’ve undoubtedly lifted the Old Gold’s spirits. Tim Hicks and Jonathan Hood are suspended however but marksman Craig Hughes is back in the squad for the first time this season. Prestatyn have been far more resilient than anyone expected this season but I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that the feel-good-factor at Carmarthen is set to continue.

The biggest story doing the rounds in the lead up to the weekend is that off Llanelli’s (4/1) current plight. The Reds’ troubles took a turn for the worse with the resignation of manager Andy Legg, and his replacement (former academy director) Bob Jeffrey faces a daunting start with the visit of TNS (8/15) and suspension and injury worries continue to hamper Llanelli’s season. Ashley Evans and Corey Jenkins (suspended) are definitely missing with Martin Rose also expected to miss out , although the influential pair of Luke Bowen and Chris Venables are available once again. Only a point separates third-placed TNS from leaders Prestatyn and despite a less than convincing win over Afan Lido two weeks ago, I fully expect TNS to add to the doom and gloom surrounding Llanelli.

Port Talbot (4/5) play host to Aberystwyth (11/4) having grafted their way up into fifth in the table with successive victories over Llanelli and Connah’s Quay. Both captain Cortez Belle and Carl Payne are unavailable (suspension) for Port Talbot who will be looking to pick up where they left off two weeks ago. Aberystwyth meanwhile have been left to stew since their last game, two weeks ago, after letting a two-goal lead slip against Bala to return home empty-handed. Sean Thornton and Michael Walsh remain the only absentees for the Seasiders. If Port Talbot can settle quickly and regain their momentum, they should prove too strong for error-prone Aber.

In the final game of the weekend on Sunday between Bala Town (4/9) and Afan Lido (5/1), the South-Walians are in serious danger of being cast adrift at the foot of the table and already trail their nearest relegation rivals Aberystwyth by five points. Bala, fortuitous but incisive against Aberystwyth in their last outing, should again have too many big-hitters in their ranks to overcome Paul Reid’s side. After unexpectedly taking the lead at TNS two weeks ago, Lido’s defensive frailties were once more exposed as they were handed an eighth-straight defeat. The table doesn’t lie, not for this one at least.

(Fri) Bangor City 4/6 Draw 5/2 Airbus 10/3
(Fri) Connah’s Quay 10/11 Draw 5/2 Newtown 12/5
(Sat, TV game) Carmarthen 11/4 Draw 5/2 Prestatyn 4/5
(Sat) Llanelli 4/1 Draw 3/1 TNS 8/15
(Sat) Port Talbot 4/5 Draw 5/2 Aberystwyth 11/4
(Sun) Bala Town 4/9 Draw 3/1 Afan Lido 5/1