To be the top of the league at Christmas is one of the most promising signs in football, but a treacherous time for the teams looking to hang on for title glory.
Here, we review six of Wales’ table topping teams, and ask if they’ll still be there come the end of the season.
Dafabet Welsh Premier League: The New Saints
Few will be surprised at The New Saints’ position, but the champion’s run this season is remarkable at any level. Since losing 3-0 to Cypriot giants Apoel Nicosia, the Saints have gone on a run of 25 games won, which places them on the verge of breaking the official word record for amount of consecutive games won should they overcome Cefn Druids twice over the festive period.
During the summer there was speculation that TNS’ title hopes could be endangered by the renewed strength of gap Connah’s Quay and Bala Town, but the Saints have brushed aside all opposition in the league so far, going 21 points clear at the top of the table scoring 68 goals.
In the case of TNS, it’s not a question of whether they will win the title but one of just how much can they achieve on their way to the Dafabet Welsh Premier trophy once again.
Cymru Alliance: Prestatyn Town
The Seasiders’ season already stands up as one of the most incredible this season so far. They’ve survived a £53,000 winding up order to maintain an unbeaten start to the league, winning 14 and drawing two to keep them at the top of the table with a nine point gap.
Prestatyn’s pole position is somewhat an upset, as current champions Caernarfon were tipped to go and win their second consecutive title after failing to be promoted last season due to a licensing technicality.
In such a competitive league as the Cymru Alliance, Prestatyn have much more work to do, but the fact they’re top after all they’ve gone through makes them a good bet for the title and a sensational Welsh Premier league promotion.
Welsh Football League Division One: Goytre FC
Goytre sit at the top of the south’s second tier, in which the top ten teams are only separated by ten points. Goytre have earned the right to be top at Christmas from nine wins, 3 draws and 3 losses.
They have a 5 point lead but are far from sitting pretty, with the likes of Barry Town, Caerau Ely and Penybont having games in hand over them.
Despite being top, their biggest achievement of the season so far is beating summer Europa League entrants Llandudno FC in the Welsh Cup third round, for which they’ve earned a trip to Welsh Premier giants Bangor City.
With at least five teams in with a shout for the title, there’ll be plenty more twists and turns to come for Goytre as they head towards a fierce fight for the title.
Welsh Football League Division Two: Llanelli Town
Everything has gone right for the reborn Llanelli Town this season, with the side yet to lose a league fixture.
Their season has revolved around marquee signing Lee Trundle, whose skill and composure from a prestigious professional career has helped put Llanelli on the map, with a three minute hat trick to defeat Abergavenny Town in injury time making international headlines.
Yet a team effort will be required if Llanelli are to hold onto the top spot, with AFC Porth and Briton Ferry Llansawel hot on their heels with a three point gap. There will be no Welsh Football League action over the festive period, with Llanelli looking to keep their unbeaten run going against Aberdare Town on January 7.
We asked the club’s official twitter account on their thoughts from the top of the league.
“It feels good to be top at Christmas but we’re not taking anything for granted, we’ve had an unbelievable 1st half of the season going 19 games in all competitions unbeaten but now the hard work starts; promotion is an absolute must for us as a club and we’re on track for that.
“We would love to win the league and that is now a realistic target which we will now be aiming for, it’s going be a tough run in with Porth, Pontypridd and Briton Ferry: anyone of these sides could win it.”
Welsh National League Premier Division: Brickfield Rangers
Brickfield sit top of the northern third tier by just one point in a league where at least three clubs with big ambitions will battle it out for the title. Leaders Brickfield have lost just one game so far, and will be set on staying first in order to progress on their 2020 vision, which states they will be a Welsh Premier League club in four year’s time.
On their achievements to date, Brickfield said:
“It is lovely to be top of the table for Xmas which everyone at our club is working extremely hard for but it’s not all about winning the title for bragging rights sake , promotion is what it’s all about, so that we can create a better footballing landscape, within the Wrexham community for local talented players who are yet unseen by professional clubs.
Our youth football programme currently starts at U4’s & carries straight through to Under 18’s. Promotion is our aim and it’s for the best of the local community so that people have chances that players in years gone by haven’t had hence why we are the #ClubOfOpportunity.”
Set on disrupting that goal are Queens Park, who sit below Rangers having been leapfrogged by them last week after their game against fellow title rivals FC Nomads was postponed.
FC Nomads are the defending champions, but have endured a difficult season with manager Andrew Dutton leaving the club and Craig Hett and Robbie Dean taking the reigns in a caretaker format until Tom Taylor arrives at the club as manager in the New Year.
Taylor inherits the side with good form of late, but 17 points off the top – a tally he will look to reduce using FC Nomads’ games in hand in a league where postponements have blighted many a teams progress.
Brickfield can enjoy a Merry Christmas for now, but face a long and hard fight to gain promotion to the Cymru Alliance.
Welsh Football League Division Three: Caerau
Caerau are top of the south’s third tier by two points, but will take comfort in the three games in hand they have over second placed Trethomas Bluebirds. Caerau have won nine, drawn one and lost three so far, but it’s been enough to stay top of the table for the festive break.
Yet Caerau face serious opposition for the championship, with the aforementioned Trethomas Bluebirds, Ely Rangers, STM Sports and Llantwit Major all displaying title worthy quality.
As is the case for all of the South’s feeder leagues, the title race is set for an exciting few months ahead.
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