Deja vu for Bangor City and New Saints clash

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

It's a sense of deja vu in this season's Welsh Premier League (WPL) with the current league leaders.

The New Saints are going head-to-head with present champions Bangor City in the last league match of the season to decide who will be crowned champions. A draw will be enough for The New Saints to secure the title.

The Saints bottled it in last season's title decider at Farrar Road as they adopted an unfamiliar defensive formation that played into Bangor's hands.

I bet Bangor's manager, Neville Powell, could not believe his luck with the way The New Saints set out their stall, allowing his team to dictate the play for the majority of the match to claim Bangor's third WPL title with a 1-0 victory and secure their first title in 16 years.

One influential player who will not figure in the Citizens' line-up on the day, and in my opinion deserves to be named WPL Player of the Season, is striker Les Davies.

Davies has been in outstanding form for Powell's team this year and he crowned his season's display with an exquisite finish in last week's victory against third-placed Neath, which set up this thrilling finale.

Local lad Davies will be sorely missed in Powell's team as he is starting a two-match suspension for accumulating ten yellow cards during the current campaign.

But as one door closes another one opens and this will allow either Kyle Wilson or Alan Bull the chance to step up to the plate and take over Davies' mantle for one afternoon.

The New Saints will undoubtedly have learnt their lesson from last season's disaster at Farrar Road and will start the match as favourites, not only because of their two point advantage but as they are the home team and on their artificial pitch.

Bangor can take heart from the fact that they have already beaten The New Saints on the plastic surface in the league during the first half of the season and in each of their three encounters this season the away side has come away with all three points.

Could that be an omen and have a bearing on Saturday's result?

Unless The New Saints go for the jugular and play their normal attacking game I sense a repeat of last season whereby The New Saints fall at the final hurdle and we see Bangor retain their crown.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Bangor will go to the Venue with an attacking mindset, which in my opinion, is their best form of defence.

Bangor's management team of Powell and Mark Limbert have done a magnificent job since arriving at the club from Connah's Quay Nomads in 2007. In each of his four seasons in charge Powell has managed to win a trophy, which is some feat. Three Welsh Cup victories and last season's WPL title is a magnificent return.

This formidable record has been achieved through a superb team ethos that both Powell and Limbert have instilled in the squad. The togetherness they show as a team will be vital come the 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon.

If The New Saints are to be successful on Saturday they will need all the experience of four key players, goalkeeper Paul Harrison, the defensive partnership between Steve Evans and Phil Baker and midfielder Nicky Ward, who returned to The New Saints at the start of the season after winning last season's title with Bangor.

Having won the WPL with the two clubs, I think it's a close one to call.

It is a battle both teams will relish in front of what should be a record attendance for a TNS home game.

Bangor City's supporters will be there in their droves and will most definitely outnumber the home supporters; I will be very surprised if they don't.

My prediction is that it will be a close encounter with The Citizens edging it in the dying minutes by the odd goal in five to retain their title.

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