WELSH LEAGUE PREVIEW: Tough showdowns for Gwent’s top clubs

WEEKEND ACTION: Goytre’s Callum Miles, right, wins the ball during his side’s 3-0 home win over Caldicot

WEEKEND ACTION: Goytre’s Callum Miles, right, wins the ball during his side’s 3-0 home win over Caldicot

First published in Gwent Football

ALL three top-flight sides – Caerleon, Cwmbran Celtic and Monmouth Town – face difficult tests tomorrow with home fixtures against higher-placed teams, while Goytre and Llanwern will seek to remain as Division Two and Three leaders respectively, writes Terry Daley .

All games kick off at 2.30pm. Figures in brackets relate to league positions.

DIVISION ONE

Cold Bath Road: Caerleon (12) v Haverfordwest County (8)

Manager Lee Relish’s side seek to avoid a third consecutive league defeat following a run of only one loss in four.

Must start to score more, their total of ten is jointly the lowest in the division with AFC Porth and Cwmbran Celtic – who have both played a game less.

However, despite their lowly position, Caerleon have conceded just 14 goals in eight games, a record bettered only by Ton Pentre in the bottom seven.

Haverfordwest are only a point better off and begin here on the back of a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of defending champions Cambrian & Clydach.

Form guide: Caerleon: D L W W L L; Haverfordwest: W D L W D L

Celtic Park: Cwmbran Celtic (14) v West End (5)

Although still relatively early into the campaign, Celtic can justifiably be described as being at a crossroad as they will start on the back of four successive league defeats.

The latest was Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing at Aberdare Town and another loss here will be their sixth in eight league outings.

That could set the alarm bells ringing. However, there is hope because when playing well, Celtic are a match for most sides and a slice of luck would not go amiss.

Since losing 4-2 at home to Monmouth Town on August 12, the Swansea-based visitors have picked up ten out of 12 points – including last weekend’s 2-0 home win over Caerleon.

Form guide: Celtic: W W L L L L; West End: W L W D W W

Sports Ground: Monmouth Town (9) v Pontardawe Town (6)

Monmouth returned to winning ways in the league with a fine 5-2 win at Margam-based Tata Steel, where Daniel MacDonald moved to the top of the goalscorers’ chart by netting four times.

That gives him ten for the season and takes the Kingfishers’ league and cup total to a highly-impressive 33 in only ten matches.

Now the trick is to cut down on goals conceded – it’s 18 in just seven league outings – because I firmly believe they have a championship challenge in them.

This won’t be easy though because Pontardawe’s 0-0 home draw with Ton Pentre prevented them posting a fourth straight league success.

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

DIVISION TWO

Cwrt-Y-Ala: Caerau (Ely) (7) v Croesyceiliog (13)

Given they haven’t won any of their last four games, Croesyceiliog will be delighted to take something from a game against a side which also appears to be out of the winning habit.

Between them, the sides have drawn four and lost one of their last five games and this match-up is a quick-fire return following a 2-2 draw at Caerau on September 1.

Jordan Jones and player-coach Jody Jenkins were on target then – although Jones has since departed for Division One rivals Taffs Well.

Croesyceiliog, though, hardly missed him when sharing six goals with visiting Garden Village and they have other talented players in their squad.

Form guide: Caerau: W W W D L D; Croesyceiliog: L W L L D D

Glenaman Road: Cwmaman Institute (16) v Goytre (1)

One glance at the form guide will be a massive clue as to which side is red-hot favourite to land all three points here.

While Goytre seek an eighth straight win this season, the hosts will be trying not to lose the same amount of games.

Although football offers no guarantees, you simply can’t see Goytre not scoring against a team which has leaked 31 goals in those seven games.

Goytre striker Luke Prosser will be keen to take his league goal tally to double figures, having missed a penalty in the 3-0 home win over Caldicot Town.

Form guide: Goytre: W W W W W W; Cwmaman: L L L L L L

Mendalgief Road: Newport YMCA (4) v Dinas Powys (2)

YMCA and fourth position seem to be joined at the hip and manager Simon Pratt’s men can’t quite get above the place in which they finished the 2011-2012 campaign.

Nonetheless they have won their last two league games and indeed have conceded only a couple in their last four.

Having pointed that out, this clash will doubtless prove to be an extreme test of their promotion credentials.

The visitors are unbeaten in seven league games, have scored no less than 30 times and have let in just seven – although they did lose a League Cup tie 2-0 at Monmouth a fortnight ago.

Form guide: YMCA: L W D L W W; Dinas Powys: W W W W W D

Glasbrook Field: Penrhiwceiber Rangers (9) v Undy Athletic (5)

Undy have sneaked up as high as fifth on the back of three straight victories and they are many people’s dark horse bets for promotion.

Striker Gareth Cullimore scored twice in last Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Caerau (Ely) to take his season’s total to seven.

Undy have let in only one goal in their last three games and here it’s difficult to assess just how strong the hosts are.

Their three league wins in seven outings have all come against Cwmaman Institute (two) and Cardiff Corinth-ians – sides who have lost all 13 matches they have played between them.

Form guide: Rangers: W L W D L D; Undy: W L L W W W

DIVISION THREE

Cwmnant-Y-Groes Field, Six Bells: Abertillery Bluebirds (12) v Llanwern (1)

A county derby which offers both teams the chance to recover from defeats, although it’s the hosts who are in more need of a morale boost.

Abertillery lost 5-1 at Bridgend Street last time out, a result highlighted even more given the victors were gaining their first points of the season at the fifth attempt.

Llanwern went down 1-0 at Treowen Stars, a team they had defeated 3-0 at home the previous week.

That defeat didn’t mean Llanwern lost their status as leaders and they will start favourites here to gain at least a share of the spoils.

Form guide: Abertillery: L D L W L; Llanwern: D W W L W L

Larkfield Park: Chepstow Town (9) v Tredegar Town (11)

League returnees Chep-stow bid for a third successive league win following victories over Cardiff Metro-politan University (7-2) and Treharris Athletic Western (2-1).

Striker Jason Thorn proved he has recovered from injury by scoring three times in those games and Chepstow have others who can find the back of the net on a regular basis.

Tredegar halted a run of poor results by defeating visiting Bridgend-based Bettws 4-0 to move away from the three-strong drop zone.

This is a game which, although the home side will be slight favourites to win, could easily go either way if the visitors bring that form with them.

Form guide: Chepstow: L W W; Tredegar: W L L L L W

Ynysangharad Park: Pontypridd Town (6) v Newport Civil Service (8)

NCS felt robbed last time out when they had what looked like a goal disallowed against Llantwit Major, who promptly scored an injury-time winner.

The 3-2 outcome was NCS’ second successive defeat and if they are to get involved in any sort of promotion race, then they need to become more consistent.

Sandwiched in between was a fine 2-1 League Cup win at Division Two Newport YMCA, a result which proves NCS can do it when the mood takes them.

The unbeaten-in-three hosts are among the favourites to go up and they start having drawn 1-1 at then second-placed Risca last weekend.

Form guide: Pontypridd: D W L W W D; NCS: W D L W L L

Ty-Isaf Park: Risca United (3) v Treharris Athletic Western (16)

Although Risca have only drawn their last two games, they were against two other promotion-seeking teams – Newcastle Emlyn and Pontypridd Town.

They welcome back top-scorer Brendan Scott, who was unavailable for the Pontypridd game, and he will be seeking to improve on his current six-goal tally.

Indeed, Ian Turner and Rob Aldridge (both with four) will also be keen to get on the score-sheet against the bottom-placed visitors.

Treharris have played and lost all three of their league games, including last Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Chepstow.

Form guide: Risca: W D W W D D; Treharris: L L L

Other fixtures

Division One: Aberdare Town v Taffs Well; Barry Town V Tata Steel (Margam); Bridgend Town v AFC Porth; Cambrian & Clydach v Bryntirion Athletic; Goytre United v Ton Pentre.

Division Two: Ammanford v Caerau (Maesteg); Cardiff Corinthians v Briton Ferry Llansawel; Garden Village v Ely Rangers.

Division Three: Bettws (Bridgend) v AFC Llwydcoed; Cardiff Grange Harlequins v Bridgend Street; Llantwit Major v Cardiff Metropolitan University.

FAW Trophy, round one (2.30pm): Aberbargoed Buds v CRC Rangers; Caldicot Town v Perthcelyn United; Treowen Stars v Cwmfelin Press.

Gwent County League

Division One: Abercarn United v Pill; Abertillery Excelsiors v Pentwynmawr Athletic ; AC Pontymister v P.I.L.C.S. ; Albion Rovers v Blaenavon Blues; Coed Eva Athletic v Fleur-De-Lys Welfare; Cwmbran Town v Fairfield United; Govilon v Clydach Wasps; Lliswerry v Panteg.

Division Two: Cefn Fforest v Trethomas Bluebirds; Cromwell v Rockfield Rovers; Cwmffrwdoer Sports v Lucas Cwmbran; Mardy v RTB Ebbw Vale; Newport Corinthians v Spencer Youth & Boys; Rogerstone v Malpas United; Tredegar Athletic v Llanhilleth Athletic.

Division Three: Abergavenny Thursdays v Whiteheads; Marshfield v Sebastopol; Ponthir v New Inn; Pontypool Town v Neuadd Wen; Race v Rhymney; Thornwell Red & White v Ynysddu Crusaders; Tranch v Trinant.

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