Friday night is Welsh Prem night!
MD32 is here, and although most of the key issues have been settled, there's still home-field advantage in the Playoffs left to chase for Caernarfon and Newtown. Here's our look at tomorrow's games.
The four sides who will contest the playoffs have been decided, but there’s still the matter of the semi-final pairings to be decided. Caernarfon are guaranteed a home semi-final, and a point at Maes Tegid will be enough to ensure they are top seeds going into the battle for a Europa League spot.
Much like they did in the final match of Phase 1, the Cofi Army are planning a party in Bala, with a big away following in fancy dress expected. On the pitch, the Cofis gave champions The New Saints a hell of a game last week, eventually falling 3-1 after Saints grabbed two goals late on, and they’ll be confident of getting the point they need against a Bala side that they are unbeaten in three against this season.
Colin Caton’s side meanwhile stopped a run of four losses on the bounce last week with a 3-2 win at Newtown. The Lakesiders need to win if they are to have any chance of overtaking the Robins and clinching a home semi-final, which would also be against Chris Hughes’ side.
Keeper Ashley Morris missed that game and isn’t expected to feature again this season, while Anthony Stephens returns from suspension.
This game is the other game of the final weekend which has playoff implications, with Newtown still able to finish fourth, fifth and sixth depending on how results go.
A point may be enough for Newtown to seal fifth, given it would mean Bala needing to beat Caernarfon by four goals or more, but everyone at Latham Park will have their eyes fixed on securing the home-field advantage that fourth spot brings.
Barry meanwhile are planning a party to celebrate their qualification for Europe. A ‘Pay What You Want’ scheme is in operation on the gates tomorrow night, and the club are also bringing in a gaming van in association with Gaming Squad.
Whether the Linnets end their season with a bang on the field though remains to be seen, but there’s sure to be a great atmosphere come what may as supporters and players celebrate the conclusion of a remarkable campaign.
Having secured their Playoff place last week with a 1-0 win at home to Aberystwyth, Met host Llanelli looking to keep their good momentum going heading into a semi-final trip to either Caernarfon or Newtown.
Speaking in the week, Archers boss Christian Edwards hinted at potentially making a few changes to his squad in order to rest a few senior players carrying slight knocks. Even an unfamiliar Met line up though will be well organised, and no doubt Edwards would expect his fringe players to put in a shift against a Llanelli side whose defeat last week to Llandudno meant they were guaranteed to finish bottom.
The Reds have struggled on their return to the top flight. They’ve only picked up one point in their last ten games, and thoughts at Stebonheath have already turned to next season when they return to tier 2. Andy Hills’ side have been competitive in games though, and you wouldn’t put it past them to give Met a game tomorrow as they bow out of the league for now.
With their Playoff dream ending last week in Cyncoed, Aberystwyth head to Carmarthen looking to end their season on a high note.
Sitting fifth, six points off top after sixteen games, the Seasiders had a top half finish in their grasp, but failed to pick up another point in Phase 1, and that run may also have in the end scuppered their playoff push after the split, with the gap between them and Met just four points.
Carmarthen are the only team in the league apart from The New Saints to have won their last three on the bounce, a result perhaps of the pressure being off having secured their safety with the first win in that run against Llandudno.
Several key first team players have committed to the Old Gold for next season, including Liam Thomas, whose twenty-one goals in the League this year have broken the club record for goals scored in a single campaign. Manager Neil Smothers will be hoping his side can also finish their season on a high and set out a marker for 2019/20.
Both of these sides will be looking to put 2018/19 behind them after their meeting at the Giant Hospitality Stadium tomorrow for different reasons.
For Llandudno, their four year stay in the top flight ends here. The Seasiders reached the incredible heights of third in their first season, which brought with it a European tie against Swedish giants IFK Göteborg. However this year has been anything but, and being ten points adrift at the end of Phase 1, having won only two games, meant survival was always going to be tough, as it indeed proved in the end.
Druids meanwhile endured a tough start, but regrouped well to pull six points clear of relegation at the split. Their form in Phase 2 has been good, losing only two of nine, and no doubt they will be determined to end the season on a win and head into the summer in good spirits. They can of course also move above Carmarthen into ninth should results go their way.
And so to what could have been a winner takes all title decider, but instead now serves as a warm-up for next weekend’s JD Welsh Cup Final.
Saints have been unstoppable since December, only dropping two points on their way to title number thirteen. They continue to set the standard for other clubs, and Nomads know they have work to do if they are to attain the ultimate prize of dethroning them next season.
One has to look back at the last time the two met in March as the major point the season shifted. Two points clear, albeit having played a game more, Quay had it in their power to open up a gap of five points. A 2-0 Saints win though saw them take the upper hand, and it most certainly seems like the result that swung the momentum and eventually the title their way.
Both sides may approach this one cagily, trying to give nothing away ahead of next week, but that added layer to proceedings will definitely ensure this one is still intriguing.
Don't worry, we hate spam as much as you do. We will only send you the latest updates and anything we think you will enjoy reading about.