Gwent football preview

First published in Gwent Football

WITH just two months of the Nathaniel Cars Welsh League season remaining, promotion races and relegation battles intensify across all three divisions tomorrow.

Saturday (all 2.30pm kick offs)

Cwrt-Y-Ala: Caerau (Ely) (8) v Cwmbran Celtic (12).

Celtic start here following an excellent 2-1 home success over then-leaders Taffs Well, an outcome which took them clear of the drop zone.

They may well have had to rely on a stoppage-time winner against 10 men, but the outcome could well prove to be the catalyst to bigger and better things.

After this particular encounter, six of Celtic’s next seven matches are at home and their destiny is now most certainly in their own hands.

Caerau (Ely) actually visit Celtic Park in just eight days time and a 2-1 defeat at now-leaders Cambrian & Clydach last weekend was only their third game since December 21.

Form guide: Caerau (Ely): W L L W D L; Cwmbran Celtic: L W D L L W

Plough Road: Goytre (6) v Aberbargoed Buds (16).

A local match-up of which the outcome could be the defining moment of the season for both clubs - no matter what the result.

Goytre can’t afford not to drop any points at if they are to re-join the race to be crowned league champions for the first time.

The same can be said for Aberbargoed, who sit at the very bottom of the division having won only twice in 18 games.

However the second was a recent 3-2 home success over Goytre United while Goytre’s last match ended in a 3-0 away defeat at the hands of high-flying Haverfordwest County.

Form guide: Goytre: D W W D L L; Aberbargoed Buds: L D L L D W

Sports Ground: Monmouth Town (4) v Pontardawe Town (14).

In-form Monmouth seek a fourth consecutive triumph and they begin just five points off the top and with a couple of games in hand over Cambrian & Clydach.

Like county rivals Goytre, The Kingfishers are chasing a first top-tier title and are in with a fine chance given it’s now six of the next seven games at home.

Recent recruit from Division Three side Lliswerry Josh Brown opened his account in last weekend’s 2-1 win at AFC Porth, where regular scorer Dan MacDonald also netted to take his season’s league tally to 12.

The struggling west Wales visitors scored only one goal in losing all four of their previous outings and defeat for them here would aid the bids of both Cwmbran Celtic and Aberbargoed Buds to stay in the top flight.

Form guide: Monmouth Town: W L L W W W; Pontardawe Town: L W L L L L

Division Two

Riverside Ground, Radyr: Cardiff Corinthians (14) v Caerleon (10).

Caerleon made it two wins from their last three matches by defeating hosts Cadlicot Town 3-2 on Wednesday night to move up a couple of places and 10 points clear of the drop zone.

Jamie Davies (2) and Luke Cueto netted their goals with Richard Sharratt and Zaki Misbah replying for the third-placed home side, whose promotion hopes took a dive with the loss.

It was Caerleon’s sixth win in 18 starts and they are now only half a dozen points off a mid-table spot and with a game in hand.

The capital hosts are in the final relegation spot and Caerleon will be seeking a campaign double having beaten the Corries 3-1 at home last August.

Form guide: Cardiff Corinthians: L D W W L L; Caerleon: D D L W L W

Larkfield Ground: Chepstow Town (5) v Undy Athletic (7).

Chepstow’s promotion push received a boost in mid-week with Caldicot’s 3-2 home loss to Caerleon and it means although they remain six points off third place, they now have four fixtures to spare.

Enjoyed a thumping 5-1 triumph over visiting Croesyceiliog recently and will here seek some sort of revenge for the 1-0 away loss at Undy on the final day of November.

Tom Hooper scored Undy’s goal in that win over their close rivals and he was on target again last Saturday, when they drew 1-1 at Ely Rangers. Hooper came off the bench to score and there was a return to action as a substitute for top scorer Gareth Cullimore following a long-term leg injury.

Form guide: Chepstow Town: W W L D W W; Undy Athletic: W L L L W D

Woodland Road: Croesyceiliog (11) v Briton Ferry Llansawel (1).

Croesyceiliog have only a 2-1 away win at Undy Athletic to show for in their last eight games in which they’ve leaked no less than 35 goals.

Therefore it doesn’t need a football expert to realise they will start here as massive underdogs against a side who they lost 5-0 away to on November 30.

Having explained that, Croesyceiliog are not without hope as the visitors will start not having won any of their last two matches.

The one positive matter for the home side is it has a a nine-point cushion over the drop zone and also has three games in hand over Cardiff Corinthians.

Form guide: Croesyceiliog: L L L W L L; Briton Ferry Llansawel: W W W W L D

Mendalgief Road: Newport YMCA (15) v Penrhiwceiber Rangers (5).

Newport YMCA gave new manager Mike Fowler his first win in only his second game in charge last Saturday, when they defeated rock-bottom Caerau (Maesteg) 2-0 at home. And they followed that up with their best result of the season, a 2-2 away draw at second-placed Garden Village on Tuesday - when Mo Hassan and Marcus Madder were on target.

It was Madder’s second goal since his recent arrival while other recruits who’ve also done well and with eight of their last nine games at home, there remains hope they can avoid the drop to the bottom tier.

This won’t be an easy task for YMCA as the visitors are on the cusp of the promotion zone and have been beaten only once in six.

Form guide: Newport YMCA: L L L L W D; Penrhiwceiber Rangers: W W L W D W

Division Three

North Site: Bettws (Bridgend) (12) v Abertillery Bluebirds (15).

Abertillery gained a deserved point from a 0-0 draw at Cardiff Grange Harlequins late last month, a result which halted a run of four consecutive defeats.

There was another positive from the outcome because it was their first clean-sheet in eight matches since a 2-0 away win over Llantwit Major on November 9.

If this particular match-up is half as good as the teams’ last meeting, when Abertillery won 6-3, then fans are in for a treat.

Bettws were 1-0 home winners over Cardiff-based Bridgend Street in their last outing two weeks ago and their 36-goal total is the second highest in the bottom 10.

Form guide: Bettws: D L W L L W; Abertillery Bluebirds: D L L L L D

The Willows, Tremorfa: Bridgend Street (Cardiff) (14) v Tredegar Town (5).

Tredegar will be extremely keen to rid the memory of last Saturday’s 7-0 away thrashing at the hands of county rivals Llanwern.

The result was certainly a shock because previously Tredegar were going along quite nicely in what has proved to be their best season for many years.

Nonetheless there have been ocassions when a hefty defeat has proved a wake-up call for better things and this is a fixture which Tredegar can gain something out of.

The home side went 55 days without a game after losing 2-0 against Pontypridd Town on December 28 and since returning to action has picked up only one point from nine.

Form guide: Tredegar: W L D L W L; Bridgend Street: W W L L D L

Windmill Ground: Llantwit Major (10) v Lliswerry (7).

Any lingering hopes Lliswerry had of going up were virtually wiped out in mid-week when they fell to a 2-1 home reverse at the hands of county rivals Treowen Stars. Max Fessey was on target for Lliswerry while Tom Dando and Lewis Coote grabbed the goals which took Treowen off the bottom of the table and above Newport Civil Service.

Nonetheless Lliswerry still have 36 points to play for in their debut campaign, which has seen them make a favourable impression.

The hosts look likely to finish the campaign in a mid-table spot, although they’ve scored less goals, 27, than the entire top 12.

Form guide: Llantwit Major: L W L W L L; Lliswerry: L W L D W L

Newport Stadium: Llanwern (1) v Treharris Athletic Western (13).

With eight of their last 12 games at home, Llanwern’s march towards promotion to the second tier seems unabated and they will begin here on the back of a 7-0 home success over Tredegar Town.

The outcome took their unbeaten run to an 11th game with a Nic Hooper double taking his league goal tally to 20 –one behind Risca United’s Tony Willis, who is the county’s’ top scorer.

When these clubs met at Treharris in late September, Llanwern edged an 11-goal thriller with striker John Lillygreen scoring a hat-trick.

The home team have had a far better season than in recent years, although a recent habit of drawing too many games has prevented them from already reaching the safety of mid-table.

Form guide: Llanwern: W W W D W W; Treharris Athletic Western: D D L D L D

Shannon Close, Bettws: Newport Civil Service (19) v Barry Town United (2).

NCS are struggling to get away from the danger zone, although it’s currently unclear exactly how many clubs are to be relegated out of the league.

Looked to be heading for a point last Saturday before four goals conceded in the final minutes produced a 5-1 away loss at the hands of Newcastle Emlyn.

That enabled the west Walians to overtake them and NCS fell to the very bottom 49-strong league on Wednesday when Treowen won 2-1 at Lliswerry.

Here they could well face a backlash from a Barry side which will doubtless still be smarting from last Saturday’s 3-1 reverse at promotion-rivals Risca United.

Form guide: Newport Civil Service: L W L D L L; Barry: W W W W W L

Autocentres Gwent County League

Division One: Abercarn United v Blaenavon Blues; Abertillery Excelsiors v Govilon; Clydach Wasps v Coed Eva Athletic; Cwmbran Town v Albion Rovers; Fairfield United v AC Pontymister; Newport Corinthians v P.I.L.C.S.; Pill v Pentwynmawr Athletic; Trethomas Bluebirds v Panteg.

Division Two: Blackrock Rovers v Marshfield; Cwmffrwdoer Sport v Cefn Fforest; Lucas Cwmbran v Llanhilleth Athletic; Malpas United v Tredegar Athletic; Rogerstone v Rockfield Rovers; RTB Ebbw Vale v Mardy; Spencer Youth & Boys v New Inn; Ynysddu Welfare v Cromwell.

Division Three: Cwm v Caldicot Castle; Ponthir v Neuadd Wen; Race v Tranch; Sebastopol v Pontypool Town; Thornwell Red & White v Trinant; Whiteheads v Pontnewydd.

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