The first weekend of 2018 is almost upon us and with it comes Matchday 20 of the Welsh Football League 2017/18. Hopefully, the weather behaves and lovers of local football across south Wales can enjoy a full fixture list.
There are plenty of excellent fixtures across all three divisions with matters to be decided at both ends of the table in all divisions. There is an eye-catching top-of-the-table clash in the highly competitive and wide open Division Two title race, as well as a critical scrap at the foot of the Welsh League as the bottom two clubs in Division Three meet.
Other interesting side-shows include whether Treflin BGC and Bridgend Street can maintain their unbeaten league runs, or whether the likes of AFC Porth and Ton Pentre can finally pick up their first league wins of the season. Plus, everything else in between.
Here is your Welsh League preview of all three divisions ahead of another much-anticipated weekend of action.
Game of the Week
STM Sports v Garden Village
Continuing the theme of recent top-of-the-table clashes in Division Two second-placed Garden Village travel to the Welsh capital to play third-placed STM Sports at the University Playing Fields. The fixture also pits the best attack in the league (STM, 48 goals scored) against the best defence (Garden Village, 11 goals conceded).
Garden Village are level on points with Pontypridd Town at the top, having beaten The Dragons 2-0 last weekend to complete a league double; STM Sports’ last competitive fixture was also against Pontypridd, albeit a 6-1 reverse at USW Sports Park.
However, STM are just two points off the top and this a chance for Gareth Morgan’s side to re-assert their own title credentials.
If David D’Auria’s outfit can pull off another win against a title rival, they would surely become the de facto favourites to lift the Division Two trophy at the end of the season?
Pontypridd Town (1st) are at home to AFC Llwydcoed (12th) and will be intent on bouncing back from last week’s defeat. Ammanford (4th) are also among the title chasers and travel to struggling Dinas Powys (15th).
There is a big game at the bottom as Aberdare Town (14th) host West End (13th). Both sides may yet escape relegation this season by virtue of there being two weaker sides in the division, but three points for either side could extend the buffer between them and the bottom two to a much more comfortable level.
Other fixtures: AFC Porth (16th) v Croesyceiliog (9th), Caldicot Town (5th) v Aberbargoed Buds (10th), Pontardawe Town (7th) v Risca United (6th)
On Friday night Llanelli Town (1st) travel to the Rhondda to play winless Ton Pentre (15th). If that match doesn’t go with the form book, Haverfordwest County (2nd) will have the opportunity to go back to the top of the league when they host Cwmamman United (14th) on Saturday afternoon.
The most intriguing game on Saturday will see Penybont (3rd) welcome Goytre (6th) to Bryntirion Park, a battle between two sides many fancied to challenge for the Welsh League title this season.
Goytre are probably still in contention despite being 11 points off the pace. Postponements have seen them slip to 6th but they could theoretically move within touching distance of the leaders with their three games in hand. For Penybont the 10 point gap looks too much to bridge given the relentless form of the top two.
Other fixtures: Afan Lido (8th) v Monmouth Town (13th), Caerau Ely (16th) v Briton Ferry Llansawel (11th), Cambrian & Clydach Vale (4th) v Taffs Well (9th), Goytre United (5th) v Undy Athletic (10th), Port Talbot Town (7th) v Cwmbran Celtic (12th)
Trefelin BGC (1st), looking to continue their unbeaten run in the league this season, are at home against Ynysygerwn (13th) for one of a number of local encounters in Division Three this weekend.
Swansea University (2nd) face a tricky trip to Ystrad Mynach to play Trethomas Bluebirds (8th). Bridgend Street (3rd) – also unbeaten in the league – are the most likely threat to the top two and they have a home Cardiff derby against Ely Rangers (14th).
The bottom two meet in another local affair as Neuadd Wen (15th) are at home to Treowen Stars (16th). With all the sides above them having games in hand, this surely counts as a must-win fixture for both teams.
There is also a Gwent derby with Chepstow Town (7th) at home to Panteg (9th). It’s the second Gwent affair for Chepstow this week after Wednesday night’s 3-2 defeat at Newport City.
Other fixtures: Newport City (5th) v Penrhiwceiber Rangers (12th), Tredegar Town (4th) v Caerau (11th), Treharris Athletic Western (10th) v Pontyclun (6th)
(Featured Image: Will Cheshire)