NATHANIEL Cars Welsh League Division Three strugglers Newport Civil Service and hosts Ely Rangers get the weekend's action underway on Friday while Goytre and Cwmbran Celtic have contrasting tasks from which to progress to the last 16 of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday.
Friday (7.30pm kick off).
Division Three (figures in brackets relate to table positions of 18).
Station Road, Wenvoe: Ely Rangers (16) v Newport Civil Service (18).
This is a crucial relegation battle which NCS simply must win, although any would-be success probably won't lift them off the very bottom of the table.
NCS are currently three points adrift of Cardiff Corinthians and Ely with an inferior goal difference of minus-23 as opposed to minus-12 and minus-11 respectively, although they do have matches in hand over both.
Here they seek to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat since they posted their only league win of the campaign, 1-0 at Lliswerry on August 26.
Ely have also won only once this season, but that was last Saturday when they also defeated hosts Lliswerry by the same scoreline
Ely Rangers: L L L L L W
Newport Civil Service: L L L L L L
Saturday (Cup ties kick off at 1.30pm and to be played to conclusions while league games start at 2.00pm).
JD Welsh Cup, round-three ties
Plough Road: Goytre v Caernarfon Town.
Having made the near-145-mile trip from Gwent to Caernarfon, I am aware how the long and tiresome a journey can have an adverse effect on players and Goytre will certainly start as favourites to defeat the north Wales visitors.
However they will have to recover from last weekend's 3-1 away Division One defeat by hosts Taffs Well, although they remain top of the table.
Caernarfon sit third in the Cymru Alliance with a record of nine wins and two draws from 14 fixtures and have kept clean-sheets in three of their last four league and cup outings.
Cae Baker: Penrhyncoch v Cwmbran Celtic.
Although they are in fine form in being winning all of their last seven seven all-competition games, this is certainly a tough challenge for Division Two promotion-seeking Celtic.
Unbeaten-at-home-in-11 Penrhyncoch, situated five miles from Aberystwyth, are top of the Spar Mid-Wales League Division One table having scored 54 goals in winning 15, drawing two and losing only once in 18 league and cup fixtures.
However this will be Celtic's second trip of the season to play a SMWL side following on from a 3-0 round-one victory at Llandridnod Wells on October 3.
Division One (Figures in brackets relate to table positions of 16).
Sports Ground: Monmouth Town (10) v Goytre United (3).
Monmouth are four without a win, yet the feeling is they could well spring into action at any given time and maybe a win here would kick-start their season.
The Kingfishers two players, Nick Harrhy and Richard Greaves, on form with each having netted eight league goals so far.
However they must start to tighten up at the back as the 34 goals conceded in 14 outings is the second-highest in the section behind bottom-placed Garden Village (41).
The visitors are nine points behind leaders Goytre, but do have four games in hand because they've not played a league match since drawing 1-1 against visiting Monmouth October 24.
Monmouth Town: D W D L L D
Goytre United: W D W W L D
Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach: Risca United (15) v Briton Ferry Llansawel (8).
Risca are one of only two sides in the top division, Caerau (Ely) being the other, not to have drawn a game this campaign.
Their record is fours wins and 10 defeats, but often gaining parity can install a bit of confidence and should this clash end that way, then it would not be the end of the world for Risca.
Victory, of course, would be far better and it was as recently as two Saturday ago that The Cuckoos won 2-1 at home against Afan Lido.
BFL have kept clean-sheets in winning both of their last two matches, but were beaten 4-2 at the venue by Aberbargoed Buds in mid October.
Risca United: L L L L W L
Briton Ferry: L D L D W W
Division Two (Figures in brackets relate to table positions of 16).
Woodland Road: Croesyceiliog (14) v Caldicot Town (6).
The time will soon be upon Croesyceiliog when winning will become crucial as just a single victory from 11 fixtures has them deep in relegation trouble.
There are, however, 19 games left, including this one, for them to escape from the drop zone and maybe a local derby such as this will be the motivation needed to clinch a much-needed success.
Caldicot were going along swimmingly with seven straight wins from the start of the season, but two defeats from their last four games has blunted their promotion prospects somewhat.
They do have many matches in hand over all of the clubs above them and will be firm favourites to succeed here, although they are facing something of a wounded animal.
Croesyceiliog: D W L L L L
Caldicot Town: W W L W W L
The Murch: Dinas Powys (16) v Chepstow Town (13).
Like any side sitting at the wrong end of the table, Chepstow are desperate for three points where ever they can get them.
Therefore a match-up against the division's bottom-placed club, be it at home or away, is really seen as a 'must'-win' encounter
It won't be easy though for Chepstow as they haven't won since beating hosts AFC Porth 1-0 in late August and have shipped 22 goals in not winning any of the last seven fixtures.
The hosts' record is even dire with only five league points gained from a possible 33, although they have scored two more goals, 15 as opposed to 13, than Chepstow from the same amount of games.
Dinas Powys: L D L L L L
Chepstow Town: L L D L L L
Newport Stadium: Llanwern (15) v Ammanford (3).
Llanwern are another local side struggling near the foot of the table as they have managed just one win from their 10 league outings.
That was, however, only two games ago when they won 3-2 at Tata Steel, although they followed that up with a disappointing 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Penrhiwceiber Rangers.
And although they have played a game less than most teams in and around the danger zone, Llanwern's record of just nine goals scored is by far the lowest in the entire section.
Ammanford have enjoyed a reasonable start to their bid to earn top-flight football in 2016-2017, although every team around them has matches in hand to overtake them.
Llanwern: L L L D W L
Ammanford: L W W W W L
The Causeway: Undy Athletic (1) v Pontardawe Town (4).
Undy are top dogs in the second-tier section because of a healthy goal record of 32 netted in just 11 fixtures, eight of which have been won and another drawn.
Here they seek a remarkable seventh successive win and you have to go way back to August 29 to discover the last time they were beaten - 2-1 at Tata Steel.
Experienced marksmen Gareth Cullimore and Marcus Power head their league goalscorers' list with eight and five respectively.
Pontardawe are nobody's mugs and have won half of their 12 league games and will start this game only three points behind Undy, although they have played a match more.
Undy Athletic: W W W W W W
Pontardawe Town: W W W D W W
Division Three (Figures in brackets relate to table positions of 18).
Pen-Y-Pound Stadium: Abergavenny Town (4) v Treowen Stars (13).
Although only two teams are to be promoted, league debutants Abergavenny remain on course for first-time elevation to Division Two and their last league outing produced a stylish 5-0 home success over Bettws.
Their 38-goal total is the next-best record behind second-placed Caerau, who have scored 43 times, and Abergavenny trail the Maesteg club by eight points - but have three games in hand.
It's been a stop-start season so far for Treowen, who have not played in the league since losing 4-2 at Bettws on October 31.
Last Saturday's game against Panteg at Ystrad Mynach was abandoned on 81 minutes with the score at 2-2 and it's true to say Treowen need to begin to be more consistent if they are to stear clear of the drop zone.
Abergavenny Town: L L W D W W
Treowen Stars: D D W L W L
Athletic Ground: Caerau (2) v Caerleon (12).
Until recently, this would have been a clash in which Caerleon would have been clear underdogs to gain a positive result.
However brilliant 3-2 League Cup win at Llanelli Town plus some bad results to the hosts means this is not the foregone conclusion it once may have been.
However you have to go back to October 24 to see when the last time Caerleon played in a league match, a 5-2 away defeat at the hands of county rivals Treowen Stars.
The hosts were looking solid until recently when a 7-3 A home win over basement side Newport Civil Service was preceded and succeeded by 5-2 and 5-1 away defeats at Lliswerry and Bridgend Street (Cardiff) respectively.
Caerau: W L W W L L
Caerleon: W D L L W L
Mendgalief Road: Newport YMCA (11) v Bridgend Street (1).
Outside of the promotion race, it's all very tight with only 11 points seperating bottom-place and Llantwit Major, who are in sixth position.
Therefore a win here against the leaders will be a massive boost for YMCA, who have lost four times in their last six league fixtures.
Scoring wise, YMCA don't so bad with their total of 23 being the highest among the bottom eight with Darren Berry heading their scorers' chart with six.
This is Bridgend Street's best season since their league debut in 2011-2012, when they finished fourth, and here they will bid to land a seventh consecutive victory.
Newport YMCA: D L L W L L
Bridgend Street: W W W W W W
Panteg House, Sebastopol: Panteg (15) v Lliswerry (9).
Cup runs and postponements means Panteg have played only nine league games and it's a remarkable fact had they won them all, they'd still only be placed fourth.
October 24 was their previous league outing, losing 4-2 at home to Caerau, and their last lower-tier victory was 3-2 against visiting Cardiff Corinthians two weeks before.
Lliswerry will still be licking their wounds following last Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Ely Rangers, who until then had failed to win in 10 starts.
Had they won that game, they would be starting this one in seventh position - although all of the nine teams below them have played less games.
Panteg: D W L W L L
Lliswerry: L L L W W L
Sports Complex: Tredegar Town (5) v Treharris Athletic Western (14).
A couple of successive reverses have made Tredegar's prospects of going up look very slim at this point as they are 12 points adrift of the second and final promotion spot.
Before that, they were looking good having won four consecutive games in a five-match unbeaten run, although they still have 20 more fixtures left.
They will take some heart, however, from their last away league fixture, a thumping 5-1 triumph over hosts Cardiff Corinthians on October 24.
Treharris struggling yet again this season and six defeats in 10 league fixtures suggests it's going to be a long hard rest of the campaign for them.
Tredegar: W W W W L L
Treharris Athletic Western: D W L L D L