And breathe… The weekend’s round of Cymru Premier fixtures passed by with the full programme going unaffected by the weather – although the conditions were a major focal point in what was undoubtedly the game of the round on Friday night, in which title contenders Connah’s Quay and The New Saints faced each other.
The unrelenting conditions around the Deeside Stadium rendered the game practically unplayable and if that meant the action on the pitch had failed to capture the imagination, the Sgorio cameras were at least able to hone in on the adventures of a windswept plastic chair that developed into an amusing side-story, as it was recklessly dragged around the side of the pitch by the wind.
Not even a classic moment of slapstick humour when a tormented ball boy had the chair blown away from underneath him, resulting in him going legs up in the air would’ve brought a smile to the face of Scott Ruscoe in The New Saints dugout.
His side, trailing to Craig Curran’s close range finish deep into first-half injury time, came up woefully short in their attempts to adapt to the conditions and it was a grim night from a Saints perspective.
Things might have been quite different if Kris Owen faced a harsher punishment for his shocking challenge on Saints’ Keston Davies early in the first-half. A dangerously high challenge forced the wounded defender off and he was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card.
Neither team had really asserted their authority on the game when Connah’s Quay prised their way into the lead. Michael Wilde was on hand to flick-on Priestley Farquharson’s long throw and Craig Curran found himself in completely unmarked to hook the ball into the net.
Even with the wind in their favour in the second-half, The New Saints had no answer in contrast battle-heartened Connah’s Quay, who dug in to secure a win that extends their lead over The New Saints to four points.
The defeat takes The New Saints total number of losses in a single season to six for the first time since the league switched to its 12-club format and raises serious questions over their ability to defend the league title, despite Scott Ruscoe boldly predicting Connah’s Quay would not last the pace.
In two separate interviews after the game, Ruscoe made the frank statement that Connah’s Quay would not win the return fixture at Park Hall late in the season – make a note in your diaries for Friday 10th April! – and that his Saints team had fended off better teams than the Nomads.
With his judgement to face the test of time, it remains to be seen whether his assertion was well-placed or if the Cymru Premier has just had its very own Kevin Keegan ‘I will love it’ moment, and we all know what happened there.
Elsewhere, third-placed Bala Town closed the gap on The New Saints to three points after a a 2-1 win at in-form Newtown. Luis Robles and Chris Venables struck within a minute of each other to give the Lakesiders a 2-1 win at in-form Newtown, who finished with nine-men after Ian Sheridan and Nick Rushton were both dismissed late into added time.
David Cotterill made his first start for Barry Town as they drew 1-1 with Caernarfon. In the Play-Off Conference, Airbus moved further into danger after sliding four points adrift at the foot of the table despite their 1-1 draw at Cardiff Met. Relegation rivals Carmarthen and Penybont both pulled away after picking up much needed victories against Cefn Druids and Aberystwyth respectively.
Stuart Gelling was denied a point in his first game in charge of the play-off chasing Ancients by Elliot Scotcher’s curling free-kick.
At Park Avenue, Lewis Harling scored the only goal as Penybont saw off Aberystwyth Town, Harling’s second in three games since joining relegation battlers following his move from Carmarthen.
Despite the competition heating up at both ends of the table, there will be a break in Cymru Premier action next weekend as the Welsh Cup quarter-finals take centre stage.
Marley brace helps Swansea Uni maintain lead
Marley Bishop-Wisdom scored either side of half-time as Swansea Uni maintained the pace at the top of the Cymru South with a 2-0 win at Llanelli Town. Wyn Thomas’ side remain four-points clear after Haverfordwest County returned to winning ways with 2-0 victory against Ammanford, who continue to slide down the table after a third-straight defeat.
Prestatyn Town took another stride towards the Cymru North title after overcoming second-placed Flint Town United in one of only two games to go ahead. Danny Davies’ second-half strike proved to be the only goal of the game as the Seasiders move 16-points clear. Flint Town will be hoping to fare better on home soil next weekend when the two sides meet again in the Welsh Cup. In the other game, Llangefni Town edged away from the bottom three following a 2-1 win against Llandudno.
CYMRU PREMIER CHAMPIONSHIP CONFERENCE
Connah’s Quay 1-0 The New Saints, Barry Town 1-1 Caernarfon Town, Newtown 1-2 Bala Town.
CYMRU PREMIER PLAY-OFF CONFERENCE
Aberystwyth Town 0-1 Penybont, Cardiff Met 1-1 Airbus, Carmarthen 1-0 Cefn Druids.
Corwen P-P Rhyl, Guilsfield P-P Colwyn Bay, Llandudno 1-2 Llangefni Town, Llanfair United P-P Buckley Town, Llanrhaeadr P-P Bangor City, Penrhyncoch P-P Conwy Borough, Prestatyn Town 1-0 Flint Town United, Ruthin Town P-P Porthmadog.
Cambrian & Clydach 3-0 Cwmbran Celtic, Afan Lido 2-1 Taffs Well, Haverfordwest County 2-0 Ammanford, Llanelli 0-2 Swansea Uni, Goytre United 2-1 Cwmamman United, Pontypridd Town 1-1 Llantwit Major, Caerau Ely P-P Undy Athletic, Briton Ferry 4-1 STM Sports.
Featured image courtesy of Connah’s Quay Nomads / NCM Media.