Date: Fri 30 Nov 2012

Saturday's Welsh Premier League Preview

Saturday 1st January 2012

Bangor City v The New Saints (LIVE MATCH on S4/C - 17:00)

Les Davies is doubtful with Neville Powell reckoning he could lose the striker until the New Year with an arm injury he sustained at work. Chris Roberts is also doubtful due to work commitments; Alan Bull is also out with the ankle injury he sustained at Afan Lido.

On the positive side Mark Smyth has returned to the fold following personal commitments; Neville Powell adding that it is good to have a player of Mark's experience back in the squad following the departure of Craig Garside last week. The squad will be complemented by the addition of Sean Davies and Sion Deveraux from the reserves for this much awaited 1st v 3rd battle.

For TNS, Matty Williams will be hoping for a first start after almost a year on the sidelines and Kai Edwards will be seeking a recall after the Saints conceded three last weekend.

Afan Lido FC v Gap Connah’s Quay (14:30)

Afan Lido will be hoping to continue with their improved performances of late and look forward to the visit of GAP Connah’s Quay to the Marstons' stadium on Saturday.

There are no reported injuries from the training ground this week and with no scheduled absentees (holidays or other), it will hopefully give Paul Reid a full squad to select from.

Nomads boss Mark McGregor knows that getting a result against Lido will require a ruthless streak that was lacking in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Aberystwyth Town.

Though Nomads dominated first half possession with some slick passing and good build up play, some poor final passes and failure to take any of the chances created, meant that Nomads ended the first half a goal down, whereas they should have been two or three goals up.

Macca won’t be allowing the Nomads to take Afan Lido lightly. He has issued a warning to all the players that they will need to be at their best at the Marston Stadium on Saturday. He said: “A losing run like Lido have had, can’t go on forever and we will have to be at our best if we want to beat them.”

Last weekend, Afan Lido slumped to their 10th straight league defeat against Bangor City and with the four teams directly above them all gaining points, Lido are now 9 points adrift at the bottom of the table.

With seven games to go until the league split, Macca still has an eye on securing a top six place and he said:

“We have been around sixth all season but there are maybe six teams all going for sixth place. Lose a couple of games and you can be second from bottom. Realistically we need four wins from seven to make the top six, which would be a great achievement and allow us to plan for next season without fear of relegation. But we haven’t drawn a match yet either and if we could start turning losses into draws, that would help.”

Nomads have got virtually a full squad available for this weekend. Rhys Healey hobbled out of the Aberystwyth game early, but Macca has confirmed that he will be available.

“Rhys trained this week and he only has bruising, He got kicked about a bit, but people are starting to do that now he has a few goals. It’s part of the game and he’s working hard in the gym to build himself up.”

Carmarthen Town v Bala Town (14:30)

Speaking after Carmarthen Town’s superb away victory in Oswestry against Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints, manager Mark Aizlewood was full of praise for his players.

"I am delighted,” he said. “They have now put together seven very high standard performances on the trot. Of these they have won five, drawn one and had a fluke defeat in the other. With consistency of selection and player availability comes consistency of performance.”

Aizlewood was full of admiration and pride about the way his players are progressing as a group. “We work hard in training and last week I laid down individual roles and responsibilities for each one of them for the TNS match. To a man they carried them out and to score three goals away from home at the league leaders is a huge bonus. Surely there was no one in attendance last Saturday afternoon who could not have said that we thoroughly deserved all three points.”

"This result only goes to show that the WPL is very evenly matched this season. We have taken six points from Airbus and now four points from TNS but, on the other hand, Afan Lido have taken four points from us. In my opinion each game, at the moment, starts as a fifty-fifty contest."

The Carmarthen manager also expressed his satisfaction with the performance of certain of his players. “Keeping a clean sheet was well deserved for our defenders, especially Matthew Rees who has been immensely powerful in the past few weeks. Nicky Palmer had his first start of the season following a lengthy absence through injury and Craig Hughes made his initial appearance coming on for the last twenty minutes. This all looks promising for the forthcoming weeks. “

Looking forward to the six matches scheduled for December, Mark felt that the next two games are probably the most important of the season, with a home fixture against Bala Town next Saturday being the first of them. “If we lose to Bala, we could find ourselves second from bottom of the league if other team’s results go against us. That’s how tight it all is at present."

“Following the Bala match we have a vital Welsh Cup tie away at Holyhead Hotspurs the next weekend. I am not the sort of coach who sets impossible targets, but we really should be able to progress to the next round by beating the Cymru Alliance side.”

Aizlewood added: “However, despite this good run we are still not clear of the relegation places and the players need to understand this quite clearly. Any dropping in level of performance or standards will not be tolerated by either coach Neil Smothers or myself.”

In talking about Neil Smothers the manager added, “He has taken to his coaching role like a duck to water and I believe he has a bright future as a manager in the game. Neil is what I call the ‘new breed of coach’ and an old-hand like myself, who is sometimes is a little more stuck in his ways, is constantly learning from him.“

“Circumstances have dictated that Neil has had to play more games than we probably anticipated. But he has also been excellent as a player, leading by example at all times. Carmarthen Town certainly have in Neil one of the brightest coaching talents in the league and, without a doubt, he will be a long term success in any managerial role.”

Bala Town travel the long distance to Carmarthen Town on Saturday morning.

Carmarthen Town had a tremendous result against TNS last Saturday and Bala must improve on our performance last week if we are going to get anything from the match but we must always look forward and put last week down to a bad day at the office. The league is so close this season that every point gained from now until January is vital to every Club.

This week Colin Caton has everybody available for selection apart from John Irving who is still out with a knee injury.

Port Talbot Town v Prestatyn Town (14:30)

A busy week at Port Talbot’s GenQuip stadium saw manager Mark Jones end his four year association with the club, with first-team coach Scott Young assuming responsibility of first-team affairs on an interim basis.

Young will immediately need to lift his side as second-place Prestatyn Town visit the GenQuip stadium this coming Saturday (2:30pm), after the Steelmen suffered a heavy 5-0 defeat on the road at Airbus UK Broughton.

“One thing I grew up on, is that you give one hundred per cent week in, week out and that’s the minimum requirement of staff and players,” said Young

“I was brought purely as his Mark Jones’ assistant, so as you can imagine, it’s been a hard few days. I just ask the supporters that they give us a chance and most importantly get behind the team.”

Young has a fully-fit squad to choose from and it remains to be seen whether he rings the changes following last weekend’s defeat. The former Cardiff City man is suspended himself however and serves a one-match touchline ban.

This week’s contributors….Matt Burgess, Chris Harte, Gwynfor Jones, Alan Howells, Ruth Crump, Bob Mutton

Welsh Premier Womens League

Sunday 2nd December (All kick-offs 14:00)
Northop Hall Girls v Caernarfon Town Women's FC
Aberystwyth Town Ladies v Newcastle Emlyn Ladies
Cardiff Metropolitan Ladies v Llanidloes Ladies
Cardiff City FC Ladies v Llandudno Junction Ladies