Welsh Premier League round up – Saints and Citizens suffer in weekend slip-up

Mark Pitman watches both The New Saints and champions Bangor City suffer respective defeats in the Welsh Premier League. Gareth Elms provides the photo’s.

The Welsh Premier League title was decided on the last day of last season as the top two sides played out a convenient fixture at Farrar Road. Bangor City went into the match against The New Saints with the slight advantage after the two sides had built up a comfortable lead over the chasing pack and the final fixture of the campaign would decide the title. Bangor City claimed the necessary result on the day to take their place in the Champions League while The New Saints embarked on a summer of rebuilding ahead of the new Welsh Premier League season.

The newly-sponsored Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League campaign kicked off last weekend at The New Saints but they were held to a 1-1 draw by a significantly-strengthened Bala Town side, while Bangor City were back at Farrar Road and in a memorable fixture, Nev Powell’s side claimed a very creditable 3-2 win over Welsh Cup winners Llanelli. This weekend the two sides were both on the road to the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot, where they would, unsurprisingly, take on Neath and Port Talbot. For all their dominance of the previous campaign however, both would make the long journey home with nothing to show for their efforts, as a new contender for their title ambition emerges. Continue reading

Airfield launches a new-era of optimism

Mark Pitman takes a look at a much-changed Port Talbot Town squad as they open the new Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League season at Airbus UK Broughton.

Port Talbot Town last played a competitive game in May and it would prove to their most disappointing of the season as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Prestatyn in the Welsh Premier League play-off semi-final. A win would have left Mark Jones’ side a derby win away from Europe and with minutes remaining the South Wales club were a goal ahead. Prestatyn scored twice in the last few minutes to edge their way into the final however, and the defeat proved significant for the summer and pre-season campaign that would lay ahead for Jones both on and off the field.

Paul Cochlin, Cortez Belle, Matthew Crowell, Dylan Blain, Kristian Rogers and Paul Keddle were not even Port Talbot Town players in May, but less than three months later, the six summer signings were starting for the club on the opening day of the season at Airbus UK Broughton. Another new signing in Chris Hartland was named on the bench, some others didn’t even make the cut, but the fans had travelled in numbers to offer their vocal and instrumental support for the start of what is a new-era with a very new-look side. Continue reading

The best seats in the house

Our week of sun, sand and looking at crap tattoos in South Wales was coming to an end. With work calling us back to London it was time to back up the TBIR bus and head on down the M4. But wait, what is that I can hear calling? Is it a bird? Or a plane? No, silly, it is another football match. AND it is literally on the way home (well bar a mile diversion off the motorway). Now how could I sell this to CMF and the Little Fullers? Of course! It was Port Talbot Town. Hmm, still not enough? Well what about the fact that they wouldn’t have to actually leave the car?

Port Talbot Town’s GenQuip Stadium has one unique value. Certainly something I have never seen since they banned those little blue cars from parking behind the goal at Stamford Bridge for “health and safety” reasons back in the late 1980s. You can drive your car in and park it by the side of the pitch….(steps back awaiting amazed response). Yep, it is genuinely too good to be true.
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The Swans finish underNeath but over Town

In a bizarre arrangement, Swansea City played two back to back friendly games on Saturday against local Welsh Premier League sides.  First up was a visit to The Gnoll, home of Lee Trundle’s Neath, before heading down to Michael Sheen’s club, Port Talbot Town.  As always Abi Davies and Mark Pitman were on hand to give contrasting views on the afternoon’s festivities.  First up is Abi with the events at The Gnoll.

Neath 1 Swansea City 0 – The Gnoll – Saturday 16th July 2011
Swansea City continued their preparations ahead of their début season in the Premier League with back to back friendlies against Welsh Premier League sides Neath and Port Talbot.  Brendan Rodgers named equally strong sides for both games with a mixture of first team and youth players featuring.

The game as The Gnoll was the first chance Swans fans had to see Danny Graham in action following his £3.5 million move from Watford.

Steven Caulker also made his Swans debut against Neath two weeks after agreeing to join the newly promoted Welsh side on a season long loan. Continue reading

Euro glory beckons as Prestatyn show spirit of ’99

Mark Pitman reports on a dramatic ending from Bastion Gardens as Prestatyn Town move to within one win of European football. www.welsh-premier.com were on hand for photos.

For Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 1999, read Lee Hunt and David Hayes in 2011. The former duo may have won the Champions League for Manchester United in dramatic fashion, but the latter did the same for Prestatyn Town on Sunday in the Welsh Premier League play-off semi-final. The games may seem a million miles apart, but both were among the most important in the history of the two respective clubs, and the goals from Hunt and Hayes mean that Prestatyn Town are now one win away from making their own impact on the European football stage.

The Welsh Premier League has been the subject of some drastic cosmetic surgery this season as the traditional eighteen clubs were reduced to twelve, a mid-season split separated the top and bottom six clubs and the last UEFA Europa League place would be decided not by league placings but by an end of season play-off. The format has confused many, but after nine months of football, five teams entered the inaugural play-off competition last week. Airbus UK Broughton were the first club to be eliminated, and on Saturday it was the turn of Port Talbot Town and Aberystwyth Town to forget a return to European football for another season at least. Continue reading