North v South Welsh Premier League All-Star game: How XI’s could look
In America, there tends to be a number of All-Star game between regions, but could it work in the Welsh Premier League?
The NFL, NBA and NHL all host exhibition matches in their respective sports in a one-off showpiece event, each year.
Last night there was an NBA All-Star game in which Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 178-164. It’s a tradition that has been going for 68 years.
At the moment there isn’t a Community Shield game in the Welsh Premier League, so could an All-Stars game suffice? Either at the end of each season or at the start of the new season.
But what would it look like if there was a North v South All-Stars game in the JD Welsh Premier League?
To split the Welsh Premier League, the Northern teams are Bala Town, Caernarfon Town, Cefn Druids, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Llandudno and The New Saints.
The Southern sides are Aberystwyth Town, Barry Town United, Cardiff Metropolitan, Llanelli Town and Newtown.
Mark Jones has the tough decision in choosing his Wales C squad, but Y Clwb-Pel Droed writers have now managed to choose their North v South XI’s.
SOUTH XI: Fuller, Walker, Woolridge (C), Cooper, Hugh, E.Evans, Patten, Cotterill, Loveridge, L.Thomas, Kellaway. (4-3-3)
Substitutes: D.Jones, C.Roberts, E.Lewis, S.Walters, McLaggon, Roscrow and Touray.
MANAGER: Gavin Chesterfield
Despite not playing much this season, Will Fuller has been a great stalwart for Cardiff Met and when fully fit is one of the best goalkeepers in the division.
Cardiff Met and Barry offer the best defences in the league, so it comes as no surprise that Luke Cooper and Bradley Woolridge are the centre-back partnership duo.
Declan Walker has been playing in an advanced role this season for Aberystwyth Town, but he reverts to right-back in what is a pacy full-back duo
Eliot Evans on his day is one of the best midfielders in the Welsh Premier League. His creativity alongside Cotterill allows the side to tick.
Robbie Patten has impressed since joining from Chippenham Town. The box-to-box midfielder would be the midfield engine in a three-man midfield. He’s joined by the creative spark and Barry captain Jordan Cotterill.
James Loveridge has been vital for the Reds this season and it comes as no surprise that he’s their top scorer. Geoff Kellaway from Aberystwyth Town pips teammate
Liam Thomas gets the nod ahead of Barry duo Kayne McLaggon and Momodou Touray due to his recent goal scoring form. His hat-trick against Llanelli Town put him as the highest scoring Welshman in the league this season.
Chesterfield has done a terrific job with Barry Town United this season. Having comfortably kept his side up last season, he has turned taken his Dragons side to the next level by having them as genuine title contenders this season.
NORTH XI: Ramsey, Spender, Horan (C), Hudson, Craig, Mullan, H.Jones, A.Edwards, Morris, D.Thomas, Bakare, Tames (4-5-1)
Substitutes: P.Harrison, D.Harrison, G.Edwards, Brookwell, Redmond, Venables and Draper.
Alex Ramsey has kept an impressive 10 clean sheets for promoted side Caernarfon Town. Only Paul Harrison has managed more.
Connah’s Quay and The New Saints have conceded the least amount of goals this season, so like the Southern XI, two centre-backs Blaine Hudson and George Horan with their experience make for a solid defence.
With nine assists to his name this season, the experienced Simon Spender knows a thing or to about the Welsh Premier League, having won a number of titles. He alongside Nathan Craig, who has scored 11 goals in 24 appearances this season, makes for an exciting wing-back duo.
Henry Jones is the most creative player in the League at the moment, having returned to the top flight of Welsh football after a spell with AFC Fylde.
The 2017/2018 Welsh Premier League Player of the Year has to be included in this XI. Mullan has continued his form into this campaign with eight assists. Opposite winger Michael Bakare has been in fine form this season and can also double up as a central forward.
Aaron Edwards is that cog in the midfield, the one that allows the team to tick.
Steven Tames leads the line, having taken the Welsh Premier League by storm since his arrival last summer.
Forward Greg Draper has found himself on the bench this season under Scott Ruscoe and he’s on there again, but that’s no reason for him to not make an impact as a substitute like he has done many times this season.
Andy Morrison’s teams are compact so packing the midfield will deal with the creativity of the Southern-based team.
Manager: Andy Morrison
SOUTH XI: Fuller, Walker, Wooldridge, Vincent, Hugh, Patten, Walters, Loveridge, Evans, Kellaway, Thomas. (4-2-3-1)
Subs: Idzi, Rees, Lewis, Cooper, Cotterill, McLaggon, Touray.
Manager: Gavin Chesterfield
As Jordan mentioned, game time this season has been limited for the Archer’s stopper, but there’s no doubt that he’s right up there on his day.
Aber’s Walker is a modern-day full-back, who likes to spend a lot of time in the opposition half and knows where the goal is. Last season, he netted 11 goals in a struggling Black & Greens team and has found the net six times so far this term.
Wooldridge missed the early part of the season, and it’s fair to say that the Archers missed him. Since his return, the Students have been able to solidify at the back, as Woolridge’s partnership with Emlyn Lewis provides Met with a strong base to attack from.
Chris Hugh and Robbie Patten are two of six Barry Town United players in the squad. Wing-back Hugh has been a pivotal part of the Linnets’ rise to prominence this season, with Patten’s energy in midfield being complimented by Carmarthen’s Greg Walters – who is very good at breaking the play up.
James Loveridge has been a bright spark in a pretty disappointing season so far for Llanelli. Netting nine goals so far, the former Swansea City youth player has been Llanelli’s main threat in front of goal, and should be in contention for selection for the Wales C team.
He is joined up front by Eliot Evans, Geoff Kellaway and Liam Thomas.
Evans can pull the strings from an attacking midfield position, with the experience of Aber’s Kellaway on the right and Thomas, who has found the net 16 times and netted a hat-trick on the weekend, leading the line.
NORTH XI: Ramsey, Spender, Horan, Hudson, Craig, A.Edwards, Morris, Venables, Bakare, Brookwell, Draper. (4-3-2-1)
Subs: Morris, Lewis, K. Edwards, Mullan, Jones, Wilde, Tames.
Keeper Alex Ramsay has made the step up to the Welsh Premier League with aplomb this season, and is part of a Cofis side that has kept 10 clean sheets in the top flight to date.
TNS right back Simon Spender has been in fine form this season, providing nine assists and has been a regular in a TNS defence that has conceded just 14 goals in the league.
He is joined in the back four by team-mate Blaine Hudson, who has been at the heart of a rock-steady New Saints defence.
George Horan has impressed for Connah’s Quay Nomads, he partners Hudson with Caernarfon left-back Nathan Craig completing the back four. The Cofi’s captain has been one of the key’s to their positive season to date, and has netted 11 goals, showing his ability from the penalty spot.
A midfield three of Aeron Edwards, Chris Venables and Callum Morris provides great variety. Edwards is hard worker, as is Venables, and Morris gives an extra goal-scoring threat from the middle of the park – the 26-year-old has netted 11 times for the Nomads.
Choosing the attacking players was a tough task, with four of the five top scorers coming from North Wales teams.
Providing a threat on the flanks are wingers Michael Bakare and Danny Brookwell. The former has scored 12 goals to date in the league and offers pace and physicality down the left side.
Brookwell has been one of Caernarfon’s stand-out players, proving a nuisance for opposition defenders and providing the sort of consistency that the Cofi’s require in the top flight.
Spearheading the attack is The New Saints’ Greg Draper.
Bala striker Steven Tames may feel hard done by, and in a two-striker formation, he would certainly be starting.
However, it is hard to ignore the consistent, year-in-year-out excellence of the Kiwi forward.
The 29-year-old is arguably the best player in the Welsh Premier League on his day and has been topping the goal-scoring charts for a number of seasons now.
Manager: Andy Morrison
(Featured Image: Brian Jones)