The race for the second automatic European qualification spot in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League took a twist after gap Connah’s Quay were defeated by Bangor City, on a weekend in which The New Saints’ incredible unbeaten run was finally ended.
Former Swansea City midfielder Henry Jones turned in another impressive display scoring twice inside the opening 20-minutes to give Bangor City a two-goal lead over Connah’s Quay.
After Michael Wilde headed narrowly wide, Matty Owen then pounced from close range to reduce the deficit, but the 2-1 defeat sees the Nomads slip down to third in the table, as they hand Bala Town a three-point cushion with Bangor also looking to make ground in fourth.
Bala Town made it two wins from two in Phase 2 following their Friday night victory over Cardiff Met at a snowy Maes Tegid.
Both sides went close in the opening exchanges but it was Bala’s Chris Venables who reacted quickest to Ian Sheridan’s rebounded effort, to head past Fuller.
Cardiff Met, looking for their first win of Phase 2, found their way back into the game when Adam Roscow was upended by Bala keeper Ashley Morris. Kyle McCarthy made no mistake from penalty spot to draw the Students level.
Two goals in four second-half minutes would decide the game however, as headed goals from Stuart Jones and Mike Hayes extended the Lakesiders’ good run of form.
Bala’s victory meant that TNS would not be able to mathematically claim the league the title but Craig Harrison’s men would have troubles of their own against an in-form Carmarthen Town.
The New Saints had gone over 2070 minutes of WPL football without defeat – setting a new World Record in the process – until Carmarthen’s Liam Thomas stunned the league leaders to earn the Old Gold a memorable 1-0 win.
Carmarthen, considered by many as outsider’s to reach the top-six at the start of the season, are enjoying life in the Championship Conference – and with back-to-back wins under their belts and an air of invincibility about them, they look a formidable outfit at present.
The six Play-Off Conference clubs meanwhile continue their scramble to avoid relegation whilst simultaneously putting themselves in contention to finish in seventh-place and enter the end of season play-offs.
Llandudno, the current occupants for that wildcard spot, saw their lead cut to a single point following their stalemate away to bottom-side Airbus. The point does little for the Wingmakers, who’re now nine point adrift from safety with eight games remaining, painting an increasingly bleak picture for Andy Thomas’ men.
Fellow relegation candidates Rhyl also find themselves adrift in the bottom two after falling to a late defeat against Newtown, the side immediately above them.
Rhyl’s Stefan Halewood scored a Goal of The Season contender with a 35-yard rocket to cancel out Jason Oswell’s opener, but hosts Newtown regained their lead when their in-form striker added a second. Kristian Pierce again pulled Rhyl level, this time from the penalty spot, but just as Niall McGuinness’ side seemed set for a share of the spoils – the Lilywhites were dealt an agonising defeat when Nick Rushton snatched an 88th-minute winner.
Cefn Druids also remain in the chase for the play-off wildcard spot after they also maintained their 100 per cent record in Phase 2 with a 2-1 victory over Aberystwyth.
Aberystwyth’s John Owen capped off a good performance by scoring his first goal for the club following his January switch from Llandudno, after Nathan Peate – also scoring his first goal since leaving Llandudno – had put Cefn Druids ahead.
Ashley Ruane for the second game in a row scored Druids’ winning goal, lifting them above Aberystwyth into eight.
Just two points now separates the four teams chasing seventh. Expect plenty of drama between now and the end of the season.
Championship Conference: Bala Town 3-1 Cardiff Met, Bangor 2-1 Connah’s Quay, Carmarthen 1-0 TNS.
Play-Off Conference: Airbus 0-0 Llandudno, Cefn Druids 2-1 Aberystwyth, Newtown 3-2 Rhyl.
Featured image courtesy of Naomi Jones/Bala Town FC/Welsh Premier League.