Why this Welsh Premier League season could be the most exciting yet

Joash Nembhard celebrates with Blaine Hudson. (Image: Brian Jones)

We’re 14 games into the 2018/19 JD Welsh Premier League season. Only six points separates first from sixth, reigning champions The New Saints find themselves third, and Barry Town United – who finished last season in seventh place – are joint top with the Connah’s Quay Nomads.

Saints trailing Linnets and Nomads

Before the start of this season, not many people would have predicted that last week’s game between Connah’s Quay Nomads and Barry Town United would be a top of the table clash.

That game finished 2-2, with the Nomads and the Linnets showing just why they’re competing at the top of the table.

This weekend, Gavin Chesterfield takes charge of his 400th game as manager of Barry. They face The New Saints at Jenner Park, where a win would see them move six points clear of Scott Ruscoe’s side.

Tight at the bottom

There’s also an interesting battle going on at the other end of the table.

Cefn Druids and Cardiff Metropolitan, who finished 5th and 7th respectively last season, find themselves struggling somewhat: the Archers are 8th, while Huw Griffiths’ Druids are 9th.

Newly-promoted Llanelli Town are struggling at the foot of the table, having collected seven points. However, Andy Hill’s men could climb out of the relegation zone with two victories.

Could we be set for a title race?

Followers of the JD Welsh Premier League have become accustomed to The New Saints lifting the trophy at the end of April. From what we’ve seen so far, however, it appears as if the Oswestry-based side will have to fight harder than ever if they’re to claim their 13th title.

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The league has needed an exciting title race for a long time, and many will be hoping that this season provides it.

Andy Morrison’s Nomads have shown that they’re capable of defeating the Saints, as well as proving their goal-scoring prowess – netting 34 times to date.

Aber and Robins start well

As well as some interesting developments at the top and bottom of the table, there are two teams who have punched above their weight, and find themselves in the top six.

Newtown finished eighth in 2017/18, while Aberystwyth finished two places above the drop zone. Both have managed to up their game, picking up notable victories against The New Saints and Bala Town in an encouraging start to this season.

Can Cofis claim top six finish?

Caernarfon Town are competing in the top flight for the first time since the 2008/09 season, and have acquitted themselves well. The Cofis are currently 7th, four points behind sixth-placed Aberystwyth.

Sean Eardley’s side have certainly added value to the league, with their high attendances at home and the positive brand of football. It will be interesting to see if they can make a push for the European places come April.

It remains to be seen whether the Nomads and the Dragons can maintain their positive form, but one thing is for certain: if they do, we are in for one of the most exciting Welsh Premier League seasons in recent memory.

 

(Featured image: Rhys Skinner)

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