We are officially at the halfway stage of the Welsh Football League season – in terms of matchdays at least. However, as only one club (Port Talbot Town) has fulfilled every fixture to date there is still plenty of football to be played.
This week sees the first set of return fixtures with the opening weekend played in reverse and this is probably the point of the season where it becomes realistic to clubs where they stand and what aspirations lie ahead.
Here is your Welsh Football League preview of all three divisions for the forthcoming weekend.
Game of the week
Goytre United v Afan Lido
Ostensibly a mid-table clash of 8th v 9th in Division One, but just four miles separate these two clubs so when they meet under floodlights at the picturesque Glenhafod Park on Friday night there will be more than just three points up for grabs.
Goytre United were league leaders early in the season but their decline in recent weeks was underlined by a 7-1 thrashing by current leaders Haverfordwest County in their last home game. Going back to August, United’s promising start to the season began at Afan Lido’s Marston Stadium on the opening weekend with a 6-1 win, so Lido will no doubt be out for some revenge.
If the Port Talbot-based outfit are going to do that they will need to record their first league win on the road since September. Likewise Goytre United have not won at home in nearly three months, so you suspect something will have to give on Friday night.
Also on Friday night, Taffs Well (6th) host title chasing Llanelli Town (2nd). The Wellmen have won their last two at home and now boast a formidable front line that could include Sam Johnson, Marcus Jones, King Junior and the recently acquired Leon Jacka. Last season Lee Trundle scored a seven-minute hat-trick at Rhiw Dda’r as Llanelli recorded a 3-2 win in the Welsh League Cup. If the former Swansea City striker is involved on Friday night, you suspect he will once again be the man Taffs Well will need to try and keep a lid on.
A win for The Reds could see them return to the top of Division One for 24 hours at least.
On Saturday, leaders Haverforwest County are home to Port Talbot Town (7th) – it will be the visitors’ first match since management duo Paul Evans and Mark Pike stepped down last week. After last week’s Welsh Cup exploits, both Goytre (3rd) and Penybont (4th) will be looking to keep the pressure on those above. Goytre are away to Caerau Ely (16th) and Penybont travel to struggling Monmouth Town (13th).
Other fixtures: Cambrian & Clydach Vale (5th) v Undy Athletic (12th), Ton Pentre (15th) v Cwmbran Celtic (10th)
There are several big games involving clubs at the top of Division Two. Leaders Caldicot Town will be hoping for home comforts after consecutive defeats on the road when Garden Village (4th) visit Jubilee Way.
STM Sports are at home again and welcome another in-form side in Llantwit Major (5th) to the University Playing Fields. STM have beaten both Pontardawe Town and Caldicot Town in the last two home games, underlining their credentials as title contenders.
Completing the trio of front-runners, Pontypridd Town (2nd) host local rivals AFC Porth (16th), the bottom club still searching for a first point of the season. Pontypridd won the return fixture 7-1 at Dinas Park and while Porth are a much improved outfit in recent weeks, there is no doubting the challenge to avoid a repeat of that result. Pontypridd are flying at the moment and fresh off consecutive home wins against Caldicot Town in the league and Division One leaders Haverfordwest County in the Welsh Cup last weekend.
At the bottom there is an important game in the Vale of Glamorgan as Dinas Powys (15th) welcome Croesyceiliog (12th) to The Murch and both sides are in need of points.
Other fixtures: Aberdare Town (14th) v Risca United (8th), Ammanford (10th) v Aberbargoed Buds (7th), Pontardawe Town (6th) v AFC Llwydcoed (11th), West End (13th) v Abergavenny Town (9th)
Swansea University (2nd) v Pontyclun (6th) looks the third division’s big game. Both sides were promoted to the Welsh League at the end of last season and both have enjoyed excellent campaigns so far. Swansea’s midweek win against Ynysygerwn means they closed the gap on Trefelin BGC to four points with another game in hand.
Trefelin BGC (1st) travel to the Rhymney Valley to play Trethomas Bluebirds (8th) at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence. Bridgend Street (3rd) also venture into the Rhymney Valley to play Aberbargoed-based side Neuadd Wen (14th). Tredegar Town (4th) face a tricky match at home to Ely Rangers (13th), who were bottom a few weeks ago but seven points from the last three matches has moved them out of the relegation places.
Panteg (9th) are back in league action after last weekend’s Sgorio-covered Welsh Cup defeat at Porthmadog. It’s another away day, but this one a lot closer to home when they travel west to the Cynon Valley to play Penrhiwceiber Rangers (12th)
Other fixtures: Chepstow Town (11th) v Ynysygerwn (15th), Newport City (5th) v Treowen Stars (16th), Treharris Athletic Western (7th) v Caerau (10th)