Opinion: Is the WPL season already over?
The New Saints’ comprehensive 3-0 win over gap Connah’s Quay Nomads last week was a result good for the champions, but damning for others.
The result, coming from a well worked performance from Craig Harrison’s men, sent TNS 15 points clear of 2nd placed Connah’s Quay, with an astounding goal difference of 44 in their favour with just six goals conceded all season.
Having already beaten the likes of Bangor, Bala and Llandudno, Connah’s Quay were looked upon as the league’s last hope for a side strong enough to challenge TNS – but after an hour of solid performance, they were finally broken down and TNS breezed to a 3-0 victory, like they have so many times before.
For Nomads, the result is a tough one, as they were forced to defend against the champions with a makeshift back line owing to a huge injury crisis which has seen Mike Pearson, Ian Kearney and George Horan all ruled out for lengthy spells.
With their Europa League campaign in mind, a full strength Nomads may well have seen TNS finally meet their match – but it seems that this question will not be answered this season, with the title all-but wrapped up, as the Saints’ twitter account seemed to imply.
— The New Saints FC (@tnsfc) October 30, 2016
This tweet, in-exclusively, triggered many responses showing frustration at the sheer ease in which The New Saints have taken the league lead, and furthermore the financial strain that would come with challenging them – for many, full time is believed to be the only way their dominance can be combated.
Ifs, buts and big questions surrounding the problem that The New Saints cause will roll on all year round, but what of the other eleven teams in the league?
Once you get over The New Saints’ incredible league table numbers, the real excitement begins from 2nd place downwards.
Not to mention the Welsh Premier’s six teams currently separated by just seven points, every club bar TNS is set for an intense season long battle; be it to avoid relegation or enter Europe.
At the top, Bangor and gap Connah’s Quay look like they are headed on a race for automatic qualification with 2nd place, defeat now a rarity for both sides. A battle between the football minds of Andy Legg and Andy Morrison’s stature is an intriguing prospect, that could well unravel into a season-long story.
Chasing 2nd and 3rd is Bala Town, now fourth after recovering from a shaky start to the season. In fifth place is Cardiff Met, who have put on some formidable performances in their search for top six football, as the students continue to stand up to seasoned footballers successfully.
Aberystwyth, Rhyl, Carmarthen and Llandudno have all shown their quality at different stages of the season so far, with their race for the top six one that might go down to the wire judging by their close points tally.
In the relegation zone is the shocking duo of Airbus UK Broughton and Newtown AFC, who have both formerly bossed the league in their own right, Airbus once seen as second only to TNS and Newtown putting on brave performances against Danish giants FC Kobenhavn only a year ago.
Despite their current poor form, even the smallest run of results could see them climb the table at a rapid rate, throwing other sides into the dreaded relegation dogfight.
With such fierce competition going on the league, it’s clear that the 2016/17 campaign is very much alive as all 11 teams go full throttle towards their season’s targets.
The problem facing the league and indeed Welsh domestic football’s reputation, is getting the general public to look below TNS and discover the 11 teams fighting tooth and nail week in, week out.
With nine games to play until the league split, more shocks, surprises and classic matches are guaranteed to come as the overall quality of the WPL continues to rise.
The title race is over, but the league has only just begun.