Marc Lloyd Williams' column

By Marc Lloyd WilliamsWelsh Premier League's all-time leading goalscorer
New Saints players Alex Darlington and Greg Draper with the Welsh Cup

Last Saturday I was at the Bangor City v Airbus Welsh Cup quarter-final and before the game, it was fitting to see Bangor City's manager Neville Powell been inducted into the Welsh Premier League's Hall of Fame.

Powell has been involved in the league from the beginning with both Bangor and Connah's Quay Nomads as a player and manager.

His achievements with Bangor have been phenomenal, with three Welsh Cup victories and a league title in his five-and-a-half years at the club.

The match itself wasn't a classic, with Chris Simm's header enough to see the Citizens progress where they will meet the holders of the trophy and current Welsh Premier League leaders, The New Saints, in a mouth-watering semi-final clash at Rhyl's Belle Vue on 6 April.

We have seen great games between these two sides over the years, especially on the final day of the past two seasons where both teams have been fighting for the title.

Only Llanelli have beaten Bangor in the Welsh Cup over the past five seasons, once in the 2011 final and in the early rounds of last year's competition.

Prestatyn and Barry Town would have been glad to have missed out on coming up against the big two in the other semi-final.

If The New Saints defeat Bangor City and go on to retain their league title, then the winners of the Prestatyn and Barry tie will qualify for Europe.

Prestatyn have surprised a few people this season in the league and may have capitalised on Carmarthen's lack of match practice following Connah's Quay's appeal against a point deduction.

Carmarthen's lack of games in February, through no fault of their own, has seen them lose both their games since their unforced break, losing to Bangor City in the league and been knocked out of the Welsh Cup.

I have been a bit of a jinx to Prestatyn Town this season whilst commentating on their matches, losing majority of the games I've worked on, therefore as I'm good friends with their manager Neil Gibson, I will tip Barry Town to progress to the final against Bangor City!

I will conclude this month's column in congratulating the young players who represented Wales in two games that were played last week.

The Wales Under-18 semi-professional team had a great 2-0 victory over their Irish counterparts at Bangor whilst the Welsh Schools Under-18 team gave the English Schools team a 4-1 thumping at Lincoln.

The pleasing thing about the two victories was that a majority of the players have been, and are still involved, with Welsh Premier League Academies.

There has been a lot of work done by the academies of WPL clubs over the years and its nice not only for the players but also for the coaches and the clubs when their players that they have developed over the years get rewarded for their efforts.

Over the next month, the Welsh Schools Under-18 team have another three matches in their quest for the Centenary Shield. They play Scotland at Bangor City (15 March), Republic of Ireland in Dublin (5 April) and in their final game face Northern Ireland at Llanelli on 19 April - a game which will be shown live on Sky Sports.

Welsh internationals Robert Page, Robbie Savage and Owain Tudur Jones, just to name a of the few players to have played for the Welsh Schools Under-18 side and no doubt played a huge part in their development leading to successful careers in the professional game.

Two players who have recently been involved in the squad have signed for Championship clubs during the January transfer window.

Lee Evans who captained the schools squad last season moved to Wolves from Newport County while Rhys Healey, ex Gap Connah's Quay Nomads and Welsh Premier League starlet signed for league leaders Cardiff City.


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