Eight opening day fixtures to watch in Wales

With pre-season over and teams ready for their first fixture, the countdown to the start of the Welsh football is on once again.

As fans across Wales endure their final few days without competitive football, Y Clwb Pel Droed has taken a look at some of the best opening day fixtures out there.

1. Prestatyn Town vs Connah’s Quay Nomads (Welsh Premier League)

  • Where: Prestatyn Town, Motion Finance Stadium
  • When: Friday 11th August, 19:45pm

This fixture sees Prestatyn Town make their Welsh Premier return after a dominant Huws Gray Alliance title win, but they face stern opposition in Connah’s Quay who come into the game fresh out of their second consecutive European campaign.

Managers Neil Gibson and Andy Morrison will already be preparing for a tough 90 minutes in what is perhaps an under-appreciated North East Wales derby. 22 goals have been scored in the last five meetings between these two, with the most recent a dramatic JD Welsh Cup quarter final that went all the way to penalties before the Nomads’ pulled through to reach the semis.

2.  Afan Lido v Goytre United (Welsh Football League Division One)

  • Where: Afan Lido, Marston Stadium
  • When: Friday 11 August, 19:30pm

Just 3.2 miles separate these two Welsh League Division One clubs as they meet on the opening day of the season both wanting a strong start to the 17/18 campaign. The sides enjoyed relative success last season by both finishing in the top half of the league, but will hope to threaten higher up the table starting with a win under the floodlights at Marston Stadium.

The match could see Cai Owens return to the Lido line up after playing for Goytre United last season, whilst Lee John’s Goytre will look for an away victory with help from new signings including Jamal Roberts and Thomas Walters.

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3. Airbus UK Broughton v Llandudno Junction (Huws Gray Alliance) 

  • Where: Airbus, Hollingsworth Group Stadium
  • When: Saturday 12 August, 14:30pm

History will be made for both of these sides at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium, with Airbus playing their first second tier game in more than 12 years – and Junction playing their inaugural game as a Huws Gray Alliance club.

Airbus crashed out of the Welsh Premier last season managing just five wins, but summer signings including the experienced Wes Baynes, Leo Riley and Aaron Bowen have made them one of the favourites for promotion.

Llandudno Junction meanwhile arrive in the HGA from the third tier Welsh Alliance Division One, promoted after Champions Glantraeth declined a move into the second tier. Although survival will be their main goal, manager Ian Bennett has told Y Clwb Pel Droed that his side is capable of surprising the league this season.

4. Bangor v The New Saints (Welsh Premier League)

  • Where: Bangor City, Bangor University Stadium
  • When: Friday 11 August, 19:45pm

In arguably the biggest opening fixture of them all, Bangor City host The New Saints on the opening night of the Welsh Premier League.

The New Saints, for the umpteenth time, start the season as favourites – but after a subdued European campaign and the departure of manager Craig Harrison and influential coach Carl Darlington, the Saints face a real fight to maintain their grip on the league.

Bangor are a significant threat to TNS’ dominance as the club moves towards full time status, with manager Kevin Nicholson signing a number of players on a professional basis this summer.

The game could prove to be a fantastic opening to the Welsh Premier in front of a passionate Bangor crowd who will know a victory against the reigning champions could prove to be the start of the league’s first real title race in many years.

READ  Bangor City swoop to sign striker Alex Darlington from The New Saints

5. AFC Porth vs Pontypridd Town (Welsh Football League Division Two) 

Where: AFC Porth, Dinas Park

When: Saturday 12 August, 14:30pm

Y Clwb Pel Droed recently tipped Pontypridd as a Welsh Football League Division Two title contender, and a win in their opening game could ready the side for a title race.

Fourth placed Pontypridd finished one place above Porth last season, with the two clubs putting on a series of good performances to finish in the top six.

After a busy transfer window a revamped Pontypridd will make their debut at the USW Sports Park, with the likes of forward Andy Smith and goalkeeper David Burnett joining the Dragons.

But looking to ruin Ponty’s home start is an AFC Porth side led by manager Stuart Brock, who has also built his squad with the signatures of Jamie Coombes, Mathew Vivers and Nick Louth.

6. Churchstoke vs Llanfair United (Spar Mid Wales League One) 

Where: Churchstoke, Camlad Park

When: Saturday 12 August, 14:30pm

It’s a case of one up and one down in the Spar Mid Wales League One, as promoted Churchstoke face Llanfair United who were relegated from the Huws Gray Alliance despite finishing outside the bottom three.

Llanfair, who enjoyed a run to the quarter finals of the JD Welsh Cup last season, will eye a return straight back to the Alliance, but could be tested by new boys Churchstoke.

They were promoted via eligibility by finishing second in Division Two last summer.

Llanfair have recruited Jack Lewis from Mid Wales rivals Berriew, with Ryan Evans and Gethin Stephens joining from Abermule to make a mark in Division One.

READ  Who can qualify for the top six in the JD Welsh Premier League?

7. Amlwch Town vs Prestatyn Sports (Welsh Alliance Division Two) 

Where: Amlwch Town, Lon Bach

When: Saturday 12 August, 14:30pm

It will be a moment of defiance for Prestatyn Sports when they kick off at Amlwch Town on Saturday, as the club plays its first competitive game since successfully appealing expulsion from the league.

They finished third last season, but Prestatyn’s league status was jeopardised by an initial ban from the division due to ground criteria issues. These however were overruled on appeal, keeping the side in the second step of tier three.

The hosts, Amlwch Town, will be looking to send their Seaside visitors home empty handed having finished in fifth place six points behind Prestatyn.

The game will mark the start of a highly competitive league where both Amlwch and Prestatyn Sports will look to mount a title challenge and promotion to Division One.

8. Bridgend Street vs Neuadd Wen (Welsh Football League Division Three)

Where: Bridgend Street, The Willows

When: Saturday 12 August, 14:30pm

After finishing eighth with some strong performances in the league and cup competiton, Bridgend will be looking to come out of the stocks fast to climb further up the table this season. With momentum gathering at the club, they have even been tipped as title contenders for the 17/18 season.

It will meanwhile be a step into the unknown for Neuadd Wen, who play their first ever game in the Welsh Football League. Being formed in just 2009, a series of promotions has sent them on a meteoric rise to the Football League.

Neuadd’s clash with Bridgend will be their first chance to prove they have what it takes to compete at a distinguished level in South Wales.

Featured Image: NCM Media




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