Could the Welsh Premier League be braced for title race this season?
It’s been seven years since a side other than The New Saints won the title, but could there be a title race this season?
That was when Bangor City beat The New Saints to the title, pipping them to it by two points. In that season, the Citizens beat The New Saints in a seven-goal thriller, as that win turned out to be vital as they won their first league title in sixteen years.
The eleven-times Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints were humbled at Cyncoed Campus, as bottom half Cardiff Metropolitan beat them comfortably on Sunday afternoon.
It was a shock win, due to The New Saints remaining unbeaten in their last five games, after their defeat to the Connah’s Quay Nomads, last month. They also hadn’t conceded in those games.
But after dropping points to Bala and now Met, it feels that there could be a genuine title race in the top flight of Welsh football.
This is the joint-worst start to the season that The New Saints have made in the last decade. Scott Ruscoe’s men have accumulated sixteen points at the quarter mark stage.
The last time The New Saints did that, was back in 2015/2016 when they won the Welsh Premier League title by seven points, with Bala Town finishing seven points behind.
The title had already been won before the final day, but in the early stages of this season, it seems that the fear factor of playing The New Saints has gone, with teams setting up to not only compete with the champions but beat them.
How The New Saints have performed in the opening eight games (inc points difference of title win)
*2008/2009 – 18 -7 points
2009/2010 – 17 – 2 points
*2010/2011 – 16 – -2 points
2011/2012 – 18 – 5 points
2012/2013 – 18 – 22 points
2013/2014 – 17 – 14 points
2014/2015 – 20 – 18 points
2015/2016 – 16 – 7 points
2016/2017 – 21 – 27 points
2017/2018 – 17 – 14 points
*Did not win Welsh Premier League
The key to a title challenge though is that you remain consistent. The Connah’s Quay Nomads have already dropped points to both Barry Town United and Caernarfon Town.
However, that can be argued in that it’s been a season already where everyone has been capable of beating anyone.
But if anyone is to take the crown from The New Saints, then they must not only take a result from The New Saints, as the Nomads have but win their games against the chasing pack.
This isn’t counting the Champions out though. For any bad run of form they have gone on, they have bounced back by going on strong runs, to win the title in convincing fashion by some margin.
They travel to Richmond Park to play Carmarthen Town, a side they’ve played already this campaign, thumping them by six goals.
Whilst league leaders The New Saints travel to the side who stopped the champions, Cardiff Metropolitan.
The Nomads will go into the game though with confidence, having never suffered defeat to the Met, in their eight meetings in the Welsh Premier League.
There’s still a lot of twists and turns to happen in the Welsh Premier League and games to be played, but the league is feeling competitive.
(Featured Image: NCM Media)