10 games gone: The Welsh Premier League so far
This weekend’s break in the top flight of the country’s footballing pyramid has seen no games for all Welsh Premier teams, with the exception of The New Saints and Bala who were in Irn Bru Cup action.
While the weekend break will be a welcome switch off from welsh football for some, others will be reflecting on what has been an action packed start to the 2016/17 season.
From 10-0 wins, to dramatic derbies to games with six or seven goals and six league positions being within four points of each other, the Welsh Premier is again proving its quality on the pitch.
Here, we take a look at how each team has fared after their first 10 games.
The New Saints League position: 1st
Pre season punditry suggesting TNS’ dominance in the league was under threat has been all but quashed by a 100% start to the season. They are first in the table with the maximum 30 points, eight points off second and 13 from third.
Yet the most remarkable statistic so far is their goal difference of +41, meaning they have scored more than %40 of all goals scored collectively in the league.
On the pitch, their squad is firing on all cylinders, overcoming an early season blow which saw Cieslewicz sidelined with a major head injury. Furthermore, a historic 3-1 win over Forfar Athletic placing them in the Irn Bru Cup quarter finals suggests their season is only just getting started.
Although the details of The New Saints’ success may make the league look wrapped up already, there is plenty of competition going on below them.
gap Connahs Quay League position: 2nd
After an incredible season last year which featured a rise from the relegation zone to Europe, it appears The Nomads are intent on another European adventure. They are one of the two unbeaten clubs as it stands, and have let in just three goals all season, three less than TNS.
It has perhaps been under reported that Nomads have managed all this despite having all central defenders out in the midst of an injury crisis, which has seen George Horan, Mike Pearson and Chris Rimmer sidelined with Ian Kearney out for the season.
In their place has been John Disney and Jay Owen, who have pulled off some great performances considering their natural midfield talents.
Although their progress this season will be envied by others, the Nomads are still looking to raise their game after a series of frustrating draws to the likes of Carmarthen, Cefn Druids and Llandudno.
Bangor City League position: 3rd
After two seasons in the depths of the relegation conference, it seems as if Bangor are back this time round. Following the dramatic departure of Nev Powell and arrival of Andy Legg, they look in good stead for a top six finish despite Legg’s limited preparation time.
They have won five games so far, drawing three and losing three – including a loss to Rhyl in the much coveted North Wales derby. Although this was a tough loss to take, there is a great sense of optimism around the Bangor University Stadium at the moment with the likes of Jordan Davies and Gary Roberts performing so well for the Gwynedd outfit.
The club has completed its first 10 games under the new ownership of a Cheshire-based consortium, and although it still early days, the Citizens will like what they’ve seen so far.
Rhyl League position: 4th
If last season’s fairytale club was Llandudno, this time it might just be Rhyl FC. Having been saved from relegation on a technicality, it looked as if they were heading for another relegation fight, with a poor start to the season culminating with a 10-0 loss at the hands of The New Saints.
This thrashing proved to a light a fire in the Lilywhites, who went onto win three consecutive league games, at one point reaching third in the table and making a real statement by drawing first blood in the derby against Bangor.
Manager Niall McGuiness is proving to a formidable appointment having proved his doubters wrong, but will know the club still must secure their survival before aiming for what would be a sensational top six finish come the league split in January.
Llandudno League position: 5th
After their exploits in Europe and a fantastic first season in the Welsh Premier, the campaign so far has put Tudno’s feet firmly back on the ground. They’ve endured a mixed start, winning just three games so far, but still boast a strong squad with the likes of Lewis Buckley and Marc Williams.
In the recent televised fixture against Airbus UK, they showed this strength with an almost comprehensive 3-1 win, which will put them in the right mood to push on with what is now the start of the business end of phase one.
Bala League position: 6th
Bala are another club who have found their return to the Welsh Premier League from Europe difficult. Alike Llandudno they have only managed three wins so far, no doubt impacted by their homeless status for the first few games of the league due to the installation of a 3G at Maes Tegid.
Now just inside the top six and their ground back, the Lakesiders will be looking to find a firepower that has been lacking, and this looks to be returning slowly with a draw to Bangor and win over Newtown.
They exited the Irn Bru Cup with a 4-2 loss, but showed real character to keep the game alive having been 3-0 down at one point, character they will need to apply to the Dafabet Welsh Premier if they are to make this season a success.
Cefn Druids League position: 7th
Cefn Druids have drifted in and out of the premier league over the past few seasons, and this time will be looking to become a permanent member. They too have been impacted by the installation of a 3G pitch, but still picked up some good results at their adopted home of Park Hall with hard fought draws over Airbus and gap Connah’s Quay.
Back at The Rock, they’ll hope to push on with the season and get some more wins on the board having only recorded two so far. It will be a season of fighting for Druids, as despite sitting seventh they are only two points above the relegation zone.
Cardiff Met League position 8th
The students successfully earned promotion to finally give the league a team from the capital, and look more than capable of surviving after getting through a tricky start to the season.
Their technical, passing approach to the game under the guidance of Dr Christian Edwards has seen them win against the likes of Newtown, Aberystwyth and Llandudno.
The side has a long way to go yet, but have now proven they have what it takes to compete and be successful in the league with the likes of Adam Roscrow and Charlie Corsby proving a real handful for their oppositions.
Airbus UK Broughton League position: 9th
After parting ways with manager of nearly four years Andy Preece just before the season’s start, the transition was always going to be difficult for the Wingmakers and results have rang this prospect true.
Early results saw them lose to Aberystwyth and draw to Carmarthen, before a defeat to Rhyl sent the club who have previously been seen as second only to TNS tumbling down the table. Whilst they have struggled, quality remains in all areas of their squad with Tony Gray continuing his goalscoring form from last season with seven goals to date.
Andrew Thomas’ side will need to get some wins under their belt and fast, if they are to avoid the peculiar prospect of playing in the relegation conference post January.
Carmarthen Town League position: 10th
The Old Gold have spent the majority of their time travelling up to North Wales for games, and have found little success on the way. Mark Aizlewood’s men have won only twice so far, but used their strong defensive abilities to frustrate the likes of Airbus and Bangor, having drawn half of all their games so far.
They are only four points from the top six, but will have to fight off stiff opposition to try to qualify. If this isn’t the case, they may well focus on a route to the play offs with a target of 7th place.
Aberystwyth Town League position: 11th
Under the new management of Matthew Bishop and a yet to be christened 3G pitch, the black and greens have gone under an intense period of transition. Results have again differed, with three wins so far including a 5-0 win over Carmarthen.
They have also been on the receiving end of similar scorelines, with a 4-0 loss at Connah’s Quay and Bangor City. There is more than enough time for Bishop’s side to climb the table, but a second venture into Europe looks off the cards for now.
Newtown AFC League position: 12th
Anyone familiar with the Welsh Premier will be surprised to see Newtown rock bottom after 10 games. Despite their solid squad led by Chris Hughes, who has consistently guided them to the top six and at one point Europe, they have only won one game this season.
Losses to Rhyl, Cardiff and Airbus have seen them sink to the 12th, but a run of good results could send them back up the table, with Jason Oswell no doubt a key part of their plans to bounce back, as he is currently the league’s top goalscorer on eight goals.
With the Dafabet Welsh Premier League back underway this weekend coming, stay tuned to the Clwb Pel Droed website and social media channels for all the latest WPL news.
The photo used in this article is courtesy of NCM Media.