A TRIO of county derbies stand out among Saturday’s fixtures because all six competing clubs simply must win, five having promotion ambitions while the other is striving to fight off relegation, writes Terry Daley.
A couple of the encounters are in Division Two, Croesyceiliog entertaining Newport YMCA and Caerleon hosting Aberbargoed Buds, while the other is in Division Three with former leaders Goytre receiving Newport Civil Service.
Gwent Senior Cup finalists Croesyceiliog are fourth, one spot off a promotion place, while YMCA, who have reached the last four of the Nathaniel League Cup, are languishing two places above the drop zone.
This game will produce something of a King v Young Pretender clash between two strikers - Jody Jenkins and Olly Beckett.
Jenkins, 31 in December, has been a professional with AFC Bourenmouth, Barry Town and The New Saints and he also had successful stints with semi-professional sides Cwmbran Town and Haverfordest County.
Last season, his 30-goal league and cup tally placed him joint top of the hot-shots list with Ross Fowler, of the Buds. Jenkins will start with four goals in 10 full and one substitute appearances, all coming in a recent five-match spell after missing 13 games with an ankle injury.
Teenager Beckett is in only his second campaign at this level, scoring 10 times last season as a squad member, but will begin the match having netted 17 times in just 19 league and cup appearances.Relegation-threatened YMCA were in action on Tuesday when they were beaten 2-1 at Caerleon, a result which ended an unbeaten run of four matches.
Caerleon’s win drew them level on points with Croesyceiliog, who have the better goal difference, while the Buds are seventh.
Goytre have slipped from top to fourth in recent weeks mainly because of being understrength through a host of suspensions.
NCS are eighth, but would go top of they were to win all 10 matches in hand they have over leaders Pontypridd Town.
However, they lost for a second successive league game on Wednesday night - beaten 4-1 at Newport Stadium by relegation-threatened hosts Llanwern.
The home side scored through Marcus Power (2), Andrew Larcombe and Gareth Southan with NCS replying with a late goal from Daniel Bailey.
Monmouth Town need a win to stay in the promotion hunt and they’ll feel confident of getting it when hosting one-from-the-bottom South Gower - providing Dr. Jekyll not Mr. Hyde decides to turn up.
Elsewhere in the division, both Risca United and Treowen Stars seem capable of reaching mid-table sanctuary, but Cwmbran Town, Llanwern and Tredegar Town all have much work to do if they are to avoid the drop.
Cwmbran are best placed of the trio, being 13th of 18, while Llanwern are 15th and Tredegar immediately below them.
Risca face a tough challenge in hosting table-topping Pontypridd, Treowen receive the side immediately above Risca, Caerau (Maesteg), while Cwmbran, who have advertised for a new manager for next season, visit promotion-seeking Corus Steel (Margam).
Tredegar are in Cardiff to face UWIC, who are third, with Llanwern, who have only 10 games remaining, visiting Pontyclun.
In Division One, strugglers Caldicot Town and Cwmbran Celtic must travel after picking up vital on-the-road points on Tuesday. Caldicot, 13th of 16, scored via Gareth Cullimore, Tom Hooper and Scott Lanyon in beating visiting Bridgend Town while 14th-placed Celtic drew 0-0 at basement outfit Garden Village.
The point helped Garden Village climb above Penrhiwceiber, who Caldicot visit on Saturday when Celtic, who have re-signed left-sided player Simon Prangley from Caldicot, travel to tackle Caerau.
Celtic are currently in a quite remarkable sequence of nine away games in 10 league fixtures and the only time they are in home action between now and May 12 is the visit of fellow-strugglers Aberaman Athletic on April 9.