Unfancied Bala leading the Welsh Premier League

By Marc Lloyd WilliamsWelsh Premier League's all-time leading goalscorer

We are now five games into the Welsh Premier League (WPL) season and there have been plenty of talking points amongst the players, managers and spectators thus far.

Not seen by many as title contenders, current league leaders Bala Town are a team who have surprised a few people following their impressive start to the new season.

Bala's Lee Hunt
Lee Hunt has a wealth of Welsh Premier League experience

The Lakesiders were only saved from relegation last season due to Connah's Quay's failure to obtain the domestic club licence and not many would have envisaged them leading the way in fine style come the end of the first month of action.

Credit must go to the manager Colin Caton, who didn't hesitate in strengthening his side over the summer with seasoned campaigners Lee Hunt, Connall Murtagh and Marc Connolly among three of his signings.

Their fine start has surely made the likes of Bangor City, The New Saints and Neath sit up and take note of the progressive work being done down at Maes Tegid.

Bala's quest for the title continues this weekend against a team that are currently three points behind them in second place, Prestatyn Town.

I for one didn't predict these two heading the table at this early stage and I have to admit that I ate a slice of humble pie at Prestatyn's Bastion Gardens last Saturday afternoon.

Why you may ask? Well if you recall in my preview article I tipped the Seasiders to be among the bottom four this season and scrapping for survival in the WPL.

But after witnessing their 6-1 demolition of Carmarthen Town and gaining their first ever win at Newtown in midweek I had to admit to the manager and my ex-Southport team-mate Neil Gibson, that I may have jumped the gun a little in condemning them to the Cymru Alliance before a ball had been kicked.

Another big game in the north this coming Saturday sees a repeat of last season's title decider.

Bangor and The New Saints are now gaining momentum in the league after a stuttering start with Mike Davies' side heading to Farrar Road on the back of two tough victories at home to Neath and away to Llanelli.

Neville Powell's Bangor have convincingly beaten Afan Lido and Airbus, who are the only team yet to register a win this season.

Llanelli manager Andy Legg was highly critical of his team after their home defeat to The New Saints and suggested changes have to be made.

"Either they perform or I go," were his comments following the defeat.

But no doubt he would have been happy with the response after a much-needed win at bottom club Carmarthen, whose manager Tomi Morgan I imagine, may be under pressure to keep his job

Bottom of the table and having conceded nine goals in the last two games, Carmarthen have two very difficult games ahead with title challengers Neath and Bangor up next.

Andy Legg
Andy Legg was critical of his side after defeat against the New Saints

Earlier this week the names came out of the hat for the first round of the Welsh Cup, a competition which sees the return of exiled clubs Wrexham, Newport and Merthyr this season.

Wrexham, Newport and all WPL clubs have the luxury of a bye into the Third round, whereas Merthyr will come up against six-time winners Barry Town in the pick of the southern section draw.

In the northern section the shock of the round could be at Cefn Druids, where the Cymru Alliance league leaders will welcome former WPL club Caernarfon Town.

The Canaries are one of the favourites to gain promotion from the Welsh Alliance this season and will fancy themselves against the Druids.

On a final note, going back to my summer football argument last month, I must congratulate Shamrock Rovers of the League of Ireland who have made it through to the group stages of the Europa League.

Rovers have been drawn to play Tottenham Hotspur, Rubin Kazan of Russia and Greek outfit PAOK Salonika.

Surely now is the time for the FAW and WPL to reopen the consultation process regarding a summer switch, speculate to accumulate, which so far has certainly paid dividends across the Irish Sea.

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