Bangor and New Saints set for mouth-watering head-to-head

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

It is with no surprise that Bangor City and The New Saints are in the top three at this stage of the season. Consistently the best two teams in the Welsh Premier League over the past few years, these two will go head-to-head in a repeat of last season's title decider this weekend at The Venue.

The New Saints have struggled in their last three games, picking up only two points in goalless draws against Llanelli and Carmarthen. What's more worrying for manager Craig Harrison, is his team have failed to score in those three games.

TNS have fantastic attacking options and you have to give credit to the teams who have nullified their attacking flair. Their only defeat of the season came at the hands of Prestatyn who have now leap-frogged the Saints into second place behind early pace-setters Bangor.

Not many would have envisaged that Neil Gibson's team would be challenging at the top of the league at this early stage of the season.

If you look back at their form in the final half of last season, they failed to win a match in 15 league games accumulating only one point.

The Seasiders's manager brought in two experienced campaigners in Jason Price and Andy Parkinson this season. Parkinson, who did not have the best of season's last year at Aberystwyth, is finally showing everyone what a dangerous player he can be at this level, and has formed a formidable partnership with Price yielding 10 goals so far.

My only concern for Gibson's team is that they have not got enough strength in depth in their squad. Last season Prestatyn suffered when key players were either out injured or suspended. So if they steer clear of these they could be in for a successful season.

Down at the bottom of the table, one team that I did not expect to be rooted still awaiting their first win of the season, is Bala. The club made huge strides last season, and with a much improved playing surface at Maes Tegid, I expected them to be near the top of the table and not be languishing at the bottom.

Colin Caton will need to try to instil some much-needed confidence into his experienced team and as Prestatyn have shown this year, once you get your first win under your belt you start to increase your confidence and the breaks start going your way.

It's not going to be easy for the Lakesiders as they have tough games coming up, Carmarthen at home then games at Llanelli and league leaders Bangor.

Talking of Llanelli: what a disgraceful display of ill-discipline that was against Newtown last Saturday when three players were sent off.

Luke Bowen and Chris Venables should hold their heads in shame. Not only in the manner they were dismissed for foul and abusive language, but their reactions when leaving the field of play afterwards were diabolical.

The most annoying thing for me as a spectator and more so for Llanelli manager Andy Legg, is that both of these players are up there with the best in the league and did not need to behave that way on Saturday. They now face a three match suspension to add more woes for Andy Legg and Llanelli.

Llanelli's next opponents are Aberystwyth, who once again this season have had a terrible start to their campaign. When they signed Stuart Jones from Llanelli in the summer I thought this would strengthen their defensive unit and he would re-form his partnership with Wyn Thomas at the heart of the defence.

However, they have the worst defensive record in the league and are conceding on average 2.5 goals per game. Their performance against Bangor earlier this month was the one of the worst displays I have seen in the league's history and to be fair the 7-1 scoreline flattered Tomi Morgan's side as it could have easily have been double figures.


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