Thursday, 21 August 2014

Welsh Premier League preview

A mouth-watering clash between reigning champions The New Saints and Europa League play-off winners Bangor City kicks off the new Welsh Premier League season tomorrow night, WRITES CARL FIELD.

Saints, who won a record eighth league title last season, are looking to make it four wins in a row and a fifth crown in six years, while Bangor – in 2011 – are the only other club to lift the trophy during that period.

Despite seeing their UEFA Champions League adventure ended at the first hurdle, the current Premier League and Welsh Cup double winners are 2/5 on to bag domestic honours once again.

Manager Craig Harrison boasts the only full-time squad in the division – put together on what is comfortably the biggest budget – and it will take a brave punter to bet against them romping to the title once again.

That squad has been bolstered further with the arrival of former Wrexham winger Adrian Cieslewicz.

Newly-promoted Cefn Druids – last season’s Huws Gray Alliance winners – also get their campaign under way on Friday night as they host beaten Welsh Cup finalists Aberystwyth Town.

There have been wholesale changes at the Rock during the close season, with management duo Huw Griffiths and Terry Ingham departing along with all but two of last season’s squad.

Gavin Cadwallader and Adam Hesp remain at the club but a tough first season is expected for new manager John Keegan’s side.

Prestatyn Town verses Gap Connah’s Quay is the other Friday night fixture, in a battle of the two sides who finished 11th and 10th respectively last season.

Despite finishing in the bottom two, Prestatyn escaped relegation, thanks to Haverfordwest – the only Welsh League Division One club who applied for promotion – finishing outside the top two.

Airbus UK Broughton, runners up for the past two seasons, will be hoping to push The New Saints closer this season as they begin at home against Port Talbot Town on Saturday.

There are also two other fixtures on Saturday, as Word Cup holders Carmarthen Town entertain Rhyl – who were defeated 2-0 by Bangor in last season’s Europa League play-off.

Elsewhere, last season’s defeated Word Cup finalists Bala Town visit Newtown.

Fri 22 Aug: Cefn Druids v Aberystwyth Town (19:30); Prestatyn Town v Gap Connah's Quay (19:30); The New Saints v Bangor City (19:45).

Sat 23 Aug (all 14:30): Airbus UK Broughton v Port Talbot Town; Carmarthen Town v Rhyl; Newtown v Bala Town.


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