JD Welsh Premier League sees explosive opening weekend
The JD Welsh Premier League enjoyed one of its most exciting opening weekends in years, with no less than 22 goals scored across the six first games of the season.
Here, Y Clwb Pel Droed takes a look at the early, yet intriguing results that could have big implications on the campaign ahead.
Bangor 5-2 The New Saints
This match was billed as a potential scalp for Bangor and it didn’t disappoint. The New Saints came into the game hoping for a smooth transition into life without manager Craig Harrison, but a strong Bangor side with full time players now in the ranks proved too strong for reigning champions TNS.
Bangor starlet Brayden Shaw opened the scoring after an impressive start from Bangor in front of a 600-strong crowd. The New Saints showed spirit to bring the score to 2-2 at half time, but a classy Citizens display saw the home side take all three points with a further three goals including a stunning strike from Shaw.
The result, while early in the season, is one that serves to threaten TNS’ aura as the all-dominant side of the Welsh Premier and makes the prospect of a title-race that one bit closer to reality.
Prestatyn 0-4 Connah’s Quay Nomads
Prestatyn were up against it in their first game back in the Welsh Premier when they welcomed Europa League and perhaps title contenders Connah’s Quay, who like Bangor currently have six full time players in their ranks.
The two sides’ last meeting was an enthralling JD Welsh Cup quarter final which went all the way to penalties, so both Andy Morrison and Neil Gibson prepared for a tough encounter.
The game was indeed a competitive one, played at a rapid pace for the opening 20 minutes until Nomads took a hold of the game with a 1-0 lead via James Owen. Nomads’ lead was doubled on the stroke of half time by Callum Morris, and although Prestatyn held a spirited performance in the second half it wasn’t enough to stop a clinical Nomads.
Cefn Druids 0-3 Cardiff Metropolitan University
Cardiff Met made a big statement on the opening day with a resounding 3-0 victory away to Cefn Druids. They missed out on Europe as losing play-off finalists last season, but pulled off a solid performance to suggest the Students will once again compete this year.
Cefn Druids have made a number of additions to their squad over the summer, but a lack of chemistry saw Cardiff take a 2-0 lead before half time.
Ashley Ruane broke to test Cardiff’s keeper Will Fuller on a one versus one basis, but was denied by the stopper who did well to protect Met’s lead. A third goal from Eliot Evans all but ended the contest, with Druids’ Stuart Cook being sent off for a second bookable offence to end an opening day to forget for Cefn Druids.
Llandudno 3-0 Carmarthen Town
They may have failed to set the league alight last season, but Llandudno got off to a dream start at Maesdu Park with a 3-0 victory over Mark Aizlewood’s notoriously tough Old Gold side.
Despite the scoreline, Llandudno were forced to work hard for the victory with their first goal coming in the 73rd minute when Sam Hart broke the deadlock.
Shaun Cavanagh’s substitution onto the field proved to be a shrewd move by Llandudno manager Alan Morgan, as he got the second goal to ensure the three points were staying in North Wales before Hart got his brace deep into injury time.
While Llandudno took the spoils this time, the game showed strong aspects of the teams who will strive for top six qualification during Phase One.
Bala Town 3-0 Newtown AFC
JD Welsh Cup holders Bala Town hit the ground running in their opening game at Maes Tegid with a 3-0 victory over Newtown.
The first half saw Bala quickly establish themselves in the Robin’s half, a tactic which paid dividends when Chris Venables sent the Lakesiders ahead with just under 30 minutes played. Evan Harwood followed up almost immediately to make it 2-0 and send the game firmly into Bala’s hands.
Bala’s third came from prolific striker Mike Hayes who confirmed a long journey home for Newtown, who will look to recover from the loss quickly as they look to rediscover their status to regain their status as a contending side for European qualification.
Barry Town 1-1 Aberystwyth Town
Barry’s journey back to the JD Welsh Premier League is one of the most turbulent tales in football, so it was fitting that their first game back in the top flight wasn’t without its controversial moments.
An energetic and fit looking Barry side took the lead in the first half as Neville Powell’s Aberystwyth failed to take their chances, but things evened up in the second half.
Mike Lewis did well to deny Aberystwyth’s John Owen on two occasions, but he would eventually concede when the referee deemed a close range Jonny Spittle shot to have crossed the line.
And there was more drama when Christian Langos went on the run for Aber only to be brought down in the Barry Town area, but no penalty was given in a rapid close to the game.
Both sides went in disappointed with just a point, but they already shown enough quality to compete in this season which has plenty more action to offer yet.
Featured Image: Event Photo Wales