Afan Lido FC v Bangor City
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Airbus UK Broughton v Port Talbot Town
FIRST-choice goalkeeper Ben Chapman will be back between the sticks for Airbus UK when they welcome Port Talbot Town to the Hollingsworth Group Stadium (2.30pm).
Chapman returns from a one-match suspension but director of football Andy Preece was full of praise for stand-in Aaron Morrison, who underwent two painkilling injections in order to play against Bangor City on Friday night. "He's been really struggling with a hip injury and we don't know what damage may have been done, Preece said after the FAW refused the club's request to bring in a temporary gloveman.
"So he deserves massive credit for playing and I was really pleased with his performance."
The manager of the month curse has now struck twice with successive defeats at Carmarthen and Bangor, although Preece felt the performance against 2011 champions Bangor proves they are becoming a match for the best sides in the league.
"We're causing the top teams a lot of problems," said Preece. "I was disappointed we didn't get anything because we played really well in the first half.
"We created a lot of chances, which we had failed to do in our previous game against Carmarthen, and I think 2-1 to us at half-time would have been a fairer reflection.
"We lost our concentration at the start of the second half and they punished us, like a top team does in that situation. But we could take a lot of positives out of the game."
Preece added: "We've played TNS twice, we've played Bala twice and we've played Bangor twice - the top teams who are very hard to get points off.
"So with no disrespect, we do have an easier run of games than some of the teams around us, but we know by now that there are no easy games in the league."
Port Talbot Town manager Mark Jones has set his side a target of four wins prior to Saturday’s Welsh Premier League visit to Airbus UK Broughton.
A disappointing home defeat to Aberystwyth Town dented Port Talbot’s top-six ambitions and Jones believes another four victories should be enough to see the Steelmen clinch a place in the Championship Conference come January.
“There are eight or nine games to go and I think we need to win four. If we’d have won [against Aberystwyth], we would have put ourselves in a good possession,” he said.
Port Talbot make the trip north boosted by the return of Cortez Belle and Carl Payne after serving one-match bans, in what is a dress rehearsal for the Welsh Cup third round. David Brooks will also be fit despite coming off against Aberystwyth last Saturday. The two sides were picked out together in last week’s draw and will meet again at the Airfield on December 8th. Watch a preview with Mark Jones here.
Newtown AFC v Llanelli AFC
Newtown’s Robins will select from a full squad at home against Llanelli this Saturday. Injury concerns for Nicky Ward and Max Penk have lessened with Ward likely to be available and Penk a possibility after a groin strain.
All eyes will be on our visitors though, as they have occupied the headlines lately, with financial woes that has seen them lose their manager and just managing to stave off a HMRC winding up order.
The fear is obviously one of relief hitting the Llanelli players and this will encourage them to return to their best. With some big defeats of late, we could have done with playing them a week ago! Having had poor results and a couple of poor performances recently - all against teams around us in the League table - some points are now essential as all other teams are picking up those points and overtaking us. This weekend will see us face a real likelihood of dropping into the danger zone if no points come out of this important game for us.
Connell Rawlinson made a steady start to his loan period last week and needs the midfield in front of him to pick up their game this week.
Llanelli will be aiming for a morale boosting result at Newtown this Saturday, but are still suffering from suspension and injury problems. Ashley Evans, Corey Jenkins and Jason Bowen are all suspended, while Craig Williams and Geoff Kellaway remain on the clubs injury list, with Martin Rose rated doubtful after coming off through injury last week. On a positive note youth player Ashley Hollingshead was a surprise addition to the squad last weekend after overcoming a long standing foot injury.
Bob Jeffrey takes charge for his first away game as manager and is hoping for a positive result. He said; "It is difficult at the moment with so many players injured or suspended. We hope to be stronger for the Aberystwyth game next week, but Saturday presents a great opportunity for us to rectify the recent run of defeats and gives the players with the shirt, a chance to shine.
“We will take a positive attitude to Newtown and look forward to taking on the challenge Newtown will present on which has been a happy hunting ground (Latham Park) for us in recent reasons. Bernard McNally has assembled a competitive squad this season that have had some great results, most notably against Bangor and The New Saints, so we will treat them with due respect and expect a battle for the three points.
“Gap Connah’s Quay, Airbus and Carmarthen have all won there though so we will take heart from the results these teams have had at Latham Park.
They have a squad full of experienced and proven players at Welsh Premier level, and have recently strengthened their squad with the addition on Connell Rawlinson from TNS however I have great confidence in my players and we will be confident of getting a result."
Prestatyn Town v Bala Town
Bala Town travel a short distance to Bastion Road this Saturday to battle it out against Prestatyn Town. Prestatyn have had a tremendous start to the season where Bala have had a slower start.
Bala made hard work of it against Afan Lido last Sunday but overall deserved the three points and a fantastic free kick from Mark Connolly, which must be a contender for Goal of the Month. Prestatyn were playing Carmarthen Town and were fortunate to come home with a point following a very late penalty kick after Carmarthen Town had played so well throughout the match with only ten men after five minutes play.
This week Colin Caton has everybody available for selection apart from John Irving who is still out with a knee injury. Stephen Brown is back after a four match ban and Conall Murtagh is back after a recent injury.
The New Saints v Carmarthen Town
Following Carmarthen Town’s superb televised performance against high-flying Prestatyn Town last Saturday, manager Mark Aizlewood could not contain his admiration and pride.
“The progress my players are making as a group is magnificent to watch,” he said. “They work very hard in training and their fitness levels, allied to their spirit and character, give coach Neil Smothers and myself enormous pride.” The 2-2 draw saw Carmarthen rise to eighth position on the Welsh Premier League table.
“I think we can safely say that we have turned the corner although the road ahead is long and has many potholes along the way. We could easily fall into one of them if we are not on top of our game week in, week out.”
Aizlewood spoke following his team’s excellent ten-man display in front of an enthusiastic and vocally supportive crowd at Richmond Park. “We had a game plan which went straight out of the window after just five minutes when our centre-forward Julian Alsop was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Evans. Most coaches would then have reverted to a 4-4-1 formation but we were able to adjust our plan and went with a very positive 4-3-2 by utilising the pace we have in our attack.”
“Then we lost our captain, Carl Evans, before half-time with a foot injury. But yet again the players just took this additional blow in their stride and continued to dominate the game. If anybody had come into the ground after five minutes of the start they would not have been able to tell we were down to ten men.”
“The biggest compliment you can give to the players is that after conceding a goal in the fifth minute of added time at the end of the game, it felt like a defeat. All of them were desperately disappointed when they returned to the changing room. However, I was at pains to point out to them that we had just dominated Prestatyn for eighty-five minutes with ten men on the field; a team which had been in the top two positions of the league all season.”
Aberystwyth Town v Gap Connah’s Quay
Aberystwyth Town, fresh from their 4-2 win over Port Talbot last Saturday, look to continue their push up the table this weekend as they take on GAP Connah’s Quay in another live TV game at 2.30pm.
Aberystwyth Town also host their family fun day this Saturday, with free entry to the ground for the game if people arrive before 1.30pm. With a bouncy castle, coaching, stadium tours and live music at the ground, Aberystwyth Town hope to showcase the club as a hub of the community, as the club, through club development officer Stuart Jones look to build links throughout Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.
Injuries remain a problem for the Aberystwyth squad, alongside long term injuries Michael Walsh and Sean Thornton, Wyn Thomas and Josh MacAuley, who both came off with injuries during last Saturdays game, are unlikely to feature, while Bari Morgan races to try and return in time for the game on Saturday. This leaves room for the Youth to fill the squad again, with yet another youth player, Samba N’Dong, featuring on the bench for the first time last weekend.
This week’s contributors….
Matt Burgess, Aneurin Venables, Owen Durbridge, Ruth Crump, Chris Harte, Mick Mayfield, Neil Dymock
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