Following the results of Tuesday night’s fixtures, the race for the Top Six has come to an end with Pen-y-bont and Newtown securing the last two spots, joining The New Saints, Connah’s Quay, Bala Town and Cardiff Met in the hunt for European qualification.
There are three rounds of matches left to play in the first phase, but the Top Six teams will already be setting their sights on automatic European qualification, while the Bottom Six teams will be battling to avoid relegation.
Friday, 6 January
Flint Town United (9th) v Aberystwyth Town (11th) | Friday – 19:45
It promises to be some relegation scrap this season as there’s only six points separating Haverfordwest County (7th) and Aberystwyth Town (11th) in the Bottom Six.
Haverfordwest County have also played an additional game to both Flint Town United and Aberystwyth Town, therefore there will be five clubs challenging for the elusive 7th position and a spot in the end of season play-offs.
Flint Town United are just two points above Aberystwyth Town, but the Silkmen are unbeaten in their last three home matches after claiming crucial results against Cardiff Met (1-1), Caernarfon Town (2-1) and Connah’s Quay (0-0).
After losing five consecutive league games for the first time in two years, Aberystwyth Town have sealed their fate in the bottom half for the eighth year running.
Aberystwyth Town are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season, but it was the Black & Greens who were victorious in the reverse fixture between these two sides in October (Aber 2-1 Flint).
Flint Town United: ➖❌✅➖❌
Aberystwyth Town: ❌❌❌❌❌
Saturday, 7 January
Pen-y-bont (5th) v Caernarfon Town (8th) | Saturday – 12:45 (S4C online)
A win against Airbus on Tuesday night has cemented Pen-y-bont’s place in the Top Six for a third successive season, and Rhys Griffiths’ squad will now be eyeing up the 3rd position.
Finishing in 3rd place has been enough to seal a ticket to Europe in each of the last eight seasons, and with just four points separating Bala Town (3rd) and Newtown (6th) it bodes to be a thrilling and competitive second phase to the campaign.
Both Caernarfon Town and Pen-y-bont were level on points in 4th and 5th place before they met in early November, but the 0-2 loss at the Oval was the beginning of a repressive period for the Cofis who have gone on to secure just one point from a possible 21 in their last seven league games.
Caernarfon Town will have to fight in the Bottom Six for the first time since their promotion in 2018, although the Canaries were rather lucky to make the cut last year due to Connah’s Quay’s point deduction.
Pen-y-bont have kept six clean sheets in their last eight games, while Caernarfon Town have failed to score in their last two outings.
Caernarfon Town: ❌❌❌❌❌
Airbus UK (12th) v Cardiff Met (4th) | Saturday – 14:30
Airbus UK will be determined not to reach the split on negative points with the Wingmakers in real danger of breaking the record as the worst team to ever play in the league.
Last season, a struggling Cefn Druids side finished the first phase with only two points, which was the lowest ever tally at the split.
But this season, a three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player against Caernarfon Town has left Airbus on -2 points, after losing 18 of their 19 league games since their promotion.
An impressive run of seven league matches without a loss (won five, drawn two), has guaranteed Cardiff Met’s position in the Top Six for the first time since 2017/18.
Nevertheless, the Archers have failed to win a league match in north Wales in over a year, winning just two of their last 19 league games in the north (both against Cefn Druids).
In August 2016, Cardiff Met played their first ever JD Cymru Premier fixture away at Airbus UK, and in the starting 11 on that day was Kyle McCarthy, Emlyn Lewis, Chris Baker and Eliot Evans who have all gone on to make over 150 league appearances each for the club.
Airbus UK: ❌❌❌❌❌
Cardiff Met: ➖✅✅✅➖
Bala Town (3rd) v Pontypridd United (10th) | Saturday – 14:30
Bala Town have claimed their place in the Top Six for the ninth successive season, but the Lakesiders were stunned at Pontypridd on Tuesday night as their run of five consecutive wins came to an unexpected end.
And following Ponty’s important 2-1 triumph, the clubs will meet for the second time in five days, before going head-to-head yet again next weekend in the JD Welsh Cup fourth round.
Pontypridd United have lifted themselves out of the relegation zone after going three league games without defeat for the first time in the JD Cymru Premier.
But Bala Town have a remarkable home record with nine wins and eight clean sheets in their last 11 matches at Maes Tegid in all competitions.
Despite Ponty’s recent resurgence, they have only won once in nine away games this season (vs Airbus) and Colin Caton’s crew will be keen to get their own back on Saturday.
Bala Town: ❌✅✅✅✅
Pontypridd United: ✅➖✅❌❌
Newtown (6th) v Connah’s Quay (2nd) | Saturday – 14:30
Newtown have insured a spot in the top half for the fourth time in five years, while Connah’s Quay have returned to the Top Six after a disappointing season in the Bottom Six due to their 18-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player.
Connah’s Quay are enjoying a run of 18 games without defeat in all competitions (won 15, drawn three), which is their longest run ever without a loss.
But two of those draws have come in their last three matches, which has allowed The New Saints to regain their nine-point lead at the summit.
Newtown have won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions, but the Robins have only won once in their last 13 meetings with Connah’s Quay (drawn two, lost 10).
Connah’s Quay: ➖✅➖✅✅
The New Saints (1st) v Haverfordwest County (7th) | Saturday – 14:30
The New Saints are still unbeaten in the league this season, and the reigning champions have now gone 25 league games without defeat since March (won 21, drawn four).
The Oswestry hotshots have won the championship a record 14 times but could this be the year that the Saints christen themselves as ‘Invincibles’ by going through a whole league campaign without a loss.
Despite failing to reach the Top Six, Haverfordwest County are currently occupying the 7th position, and staying there will be the target for the Bluebirds to obtain the final ticket to the European play-offs.
The New Saints have won 11 of their last 12 meetings with Haverfordwest County and have lost only once in the last 23 encounters against the Pembrokeshire party.
The New Saints: ✅✅✅➖✅
Haverfordwest County: ➖❌ ✅❌❌
All goals can be viewed on Sgorio’s online accounts, and the weekend’s highlights will be on Sgorio on Monday night at 10:00 on S4C.