There might just be another storm brewing in Wales – this time at Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Storm Dennis might have ransacked the fixture programme over the weekend, but we were spared enough action to at least give us a glimpse at some of the drama that might be about to unfold at the top of the Cymru Premier.
Sgorio made the right the call in opting to televise The New Saints’ visit to Bala Town as the league leaders were held by their old rivals in what was another impressive display from Colin Caton’s men.
The Lakesiders were good value for the point despite taking a fortuitous lead early on when Aeron Edwards lept and headed Henry Jones’ flighted delivery into his own net. A disciplined performance saw them push Saints all the way and even after Ryan Brobbel had levelled from penalty spot in the second-half, Bala continued to probe for a second.
Bala look a rejuvenated side this season after missing out on European football last year. After beginning to appear stale and jaded last year, Colin Caton signed well over the summer to give the side a fresh look and the Lakesiders have enough quality to comfortably hold their own and assert themselves in the Championship Conference, as Scott Ruscoe will have found out on Friday.
While The New Saints have not quite fully convinced this season yet, Connah’s Quay are seemingly going from strength to strength. The question is, just how far can they go?
There is a real feel-good factor emanating from the Nomads of late, not least because they are now top of the Cymru Premier. With the Nathaniel MG Cup trophy sewn up, the club can also enjoy long-term stability now that Andy Morrison has put to pen to paper on his new contract.
Their 4-0 win over Caernarfon was routine and further evidence of the increasing momentum that the Nomads are finding at a crucial stage of the season.
You know things are going well for you when George Horan is drilling in half-volley’s from the edge of the area. The Nomads skipper netted a rare brace to give them a commanding late before Craig Curran latched onto Michael Wilde’s flick-on to score his first goal for the club. Substitute Michael Bakare fired in a fourth to wrap things up.
January-signing Curran gives Connah’s Quay an extra attacking edge for their end of season run-in and with Michael Wilde and Jamie Insall looking as threatening as ever, the Nomads really look a side who can hurt teams going forward – something which I don’t think has always been the case when they’ve been previously been on The New Saints’ coattails.
Next Friday The New Saints visit the Deeside Stadium and that will be Connah’s Quay’s biggest test to date, with the Nomads having the opportunity to pull four-points clear at the top of the table with seven matches remaining.
The Cymru Premier has been starved of a genuine ‘to the wire’ title race for far too long – if the Nomads can find a way to come through next Friday night with all three points , I think not only will we get that battle for the league title, the Nomads would also have shown they’re good enough to go all the way.
League needs to act faster around weather warnings
The days and hours preceding a match can be a difficult time for match and club officials when games are in doubt due to bad weather. If they call the game off early, they run the risk of conditions improving and it will be questioned and ridiculed whey the match isn’t going ahead when there are playable conditions. Leave it too late, and officials are criticised for wasting the time and money of the travelling team and visiting fans. It is a predicament and postponing games often isn’t an easy decision to make.
This weekend though, it is hard to defend the decision to postpone two of the Cymru Premier games as late as they were. All three games scheduled for Friday night got off without any worry, although the bad weather was not expected to hit until Saturday. In anticipation of the extreme weather forecast for Powys, Newtown’s scheduled game against Barry Town on Saturday was rightly called off on Friday night, but it was not until mid-morning on Saturday were the games at Carmarthen and Cefn Druids officially announced as being postponed.
I have not spoken to anyone at Penybont, but presumably they had already set out for north Wales by the time the decision was made and would’ve incurred unnecessary travel costs and inconvenience. The question begs to be asked: if Newtown’s game was called off the night before, then what hope was there of Cefn Druids’ game going ahead, taking into account not just the conditions at The Rock but also the route through mid-Wales which Penybont would need to undertake?
Cardiff Met’s visit to Carmarthen, straight down the M4, is a far shorter and more accessible route but again, given the warnings in place that too didn’t need to wait until Saturday morning before its inevitable postponement was confirmed.
The decision for all three of these games was an easy one – let the official Met Office weather warning make the decision for the officials. It shifts the accountability away from the officials and everyone knows well in advance what fixtures are being postponed. Even if the weather conditions don’t materialise as badly as expected, then so what? It was the experts who got it wrong, not league officials, and the informed decision was taken in the best interests of player/fan safety. As soon as those amber warnings were in place, the decision should’ve been made. It’s easy to criticise officials when they get things wrong, but perhaps the Cymru Leagues need to revise their protocol for fixture postponements and make the process a little more efficient and simpler.
CYMRU PREMIER CHAMPIONSHIP CONFERENCE
Bala Town 1-1 The New Saints, Connah’s Quay 4-0 Caernarfon, Newtown P-P Barry Town United.
CYMRU PREMIER PLAY-OFF CONFERENCE
Aberystwyth 5-3 Airbus UK, Cefn Druids P-P Penybont, Carmarthen Town P-P Cardiff Met.