- Gwent Weekend Preview

GOYTRE seek to rejuvenate their Division One title hopes on Friday night, when they travel to Ystrad Mynach to face a Risca United side looking for a win to ease its relegation fears while on Saturday evening, lower-tier promotion hopefuls Abergavenny Town make a trip to mid Wales to play for a place in the FAW Trophy final.
Nathaniel Cars Welsh League
Friday (7.15pm).
Division One (figures in brackets relate to table positions of 16).
Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach: Risca United (13) v Goytre (3).
Risca will start bouyed by last weekend's fine 4-1 League Cup quarter-final success over ground-sharing rivals Aberbargoed Buds.
Their league form has also been sufficient to take them out of the bottom three, although they still have much to do if they are to retain their top-flight status.
Goytre's recent indifferent form of three wins and the same amount of defeats in their last half dozen matches, has cast serious doubts about their ability to lift the title.
They are, however, only seven points adrift of leaders Cardiff Metropolitan University and have a couple of matches in hand - but this is a must-win clash for them.
Last-six guide:
Risca: W L W L L D
Goytre: L L W W W L
Saturday (all 2.30pm kick offs).
Division One (figures in brackets relate to table positions of 16).
Aberaman Park: Aberdare Town (15) v Aberbargoed Buds (14).
Seven points from the last 12 on offer has boosted Aberbargoed's hope of maintaining Division One football for another season.
They are just two points from safety with nine matches remaining while their home form on this 3G playing surface is 4-2-4.
This relegation battle is a quick-fire return of the clubs' 2-2 draw at Aberdare a couple of weeks ago and it's one which Aberbargoed simply can't afford to lose.
Aberdare, two points behind Aberbargoed, beat visiting Penybont 2-1 on March 9 - but lost 3-0 at home against title contenders Barry Town United last Saturday.
Last-six guide:
Aberdare: L L L D W L
Aberbargoed: L L W W L D
Division Two (figures in brackets relate to table positions of 16).
Larkfield Ground: Chepstow Town (16) v Tata Steel (10).
Basement outfit Chepstow are four points away from safety and with a match in hand and in that context, they still have a reasonable chance of avoiding the drop.
However except for a good display in beating mid-table AFC Llwydcoed 5-2 home, they have shipped 17 goals in their last six league fixtures.
Nonetheless, this is a certainly not 'mission impossible' and if they match their performance against Llwydcoed, then they can post win number four of the season.
Tata have picked up more points on their travels (12 as opposed to nine), although their recent form over their last six games has yielded only one more point than Chepstow.
Last-six guide:
Chepstow: L L W L L L
Tata: L L L W L D
Stebonheath Park: Llanelli Town (7) v Undy Athletic (1).
Here's a question nobody can seem to answer: Why has boss Laurence Owen not yet been awarded a manager-of-the-month award if Undy are unbeaten in 16 matches, are 15 points clear of fourth position with 10 games left, have kept nine clean-sheets in 20 outings, are the division's top scorers with 50 goals and last lost six and a half months ago?
Answers on a postcard please......!!!
Llanelli were among the pre-season favourites for promotion, but have lost eight of 19 outings and currently second-from-bottom of the last-six table - having drawn 0-0 at home with Cwmamman United in mid-week.
But, as doubtless Owen will tell his players in the dressing room, it'll be nil-nil at the game's start and anything Undy gain will have to be earned.
Last-six guide:
Llanelli: L L W L D D
Undy: W W W W D W
Parc Ynysderw: Pontardawe Town (3) v Llanwern (11).
Llanwern are four points ahead of the dreaded relegation zone, but have played more fixtures than all five of the teams below them.
However a recent from improvement of 10 points from the last 18 is evidence they have what it takes to remain at this level next season.
They also have in 14-goal Dean Clifford, a player with the ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis and that alone will go a long way to ensuring their safety.
It may have been harsh to suggest recently the hosts topped the table only because they'd played more games, but
two clubs have overtaken them since and another couple below also have enough matches in hand to do the same.
Last-six guide:
Pontardawe: W W W W W W
Llanwern: L W D W L W
Pri Deri Park, Myhill, Swansea: West End (8) v Cwmbran Celtic (6).
Celtic trail third-placed Pontardawe by 15 points, but have played eight games less and this fixture marks the end of the first half of their 30-match programme.
There are others in contention, such as Cwmamman United - who have played just 13 league games - and only time will tell if the fixture log-jam will hinder their promotion bid.
Returned to winning ways with a 3-0 defeat of visiting AFC Llwydcoed and are in decent away league form with four victories from six starts.
A repeat of their 5-1 home success over West End back in August would prove extremely handy, although the hosts here will be defending an unbeaten three-game run at this venue.
Last-six guide:
West End: W W L D D L
Celtic: W W L W L W
Division Three (figures in brackets relate to table positions of 16).
Cold Bath Road: Caerleon (8) v Llantwit Major (6).
Caerleon begin the second half of their 34-fixture programme and are currently battling with the Vale of Glamorgan visitors for a top-six spot.
They were somewhat unlucky to go out of the Welsh League Cup via a 2-1 defeat at Division One outfit Taffs Well last weekend.
So if they can maintain the form which has them unbeaten in seven home games (five wins and two draws), then they could well swap places with Llantwit Major at the final whistle.
The visitors have lost just two of their previous 11 league matches and only leaders Pontypridd Town have conceded less goals in the entire division.
Last-six guide:
Caerleon: D W W L L W L W
Llantwit Major: D L L W W W
Mount Pleasant Park, Beddau: Cwm Welfare (15) v Tredegar Town (7).
Tredegar are one of several clubs seeking a top-six finish to the season and posted a second win in three with a thumping 6-2 home success over Bettws.
Their previous victory had been 2-1 against Cwm on February 24 and they will start here nine points ahead of the visitors, who have played four matches less.
Tredegar have emerged winners of three of their 11 away league games, although the last time they managed one was on October 21 - 2-1 at Lliswerry.
Cwm have not gained three points from a fixture since defeating visiting Newport Civil Service 5-1 in mid January and this clash could well end all square.
Last-six guide:
Cwm: L W L L L L
Tredegar: L L L W L W
Station Road, Wenvoe: Ely Rangers (10) v Panteg (11).
This could well turn out to be a terrific game of football between two sides who have discovered how to win on a regular basis.
Four out of their last five for Panteg has them on course for a top-six spot as they have many games in hand over all of the teams above them.
However they are still three fixtures short of ending the first half of a 34-game programme and too many games in a short period of time can often be extremely telling.
Ely's bid for a fourth-consecutive victory ended in a 3-0 defeat at Caerau on Wednesday and they will be very much aware with any number between three and six to be relegated, they must again hit winning form.
Last-six guide:
Ely: L L W W W L
Panteg: L W W L W W
Spytty Park: Lliswerry (9) v Newport YMCA (13).
Lliswerry have not won since beating visiting Treharris Athletic Western on January 21 and their latest defeat was on Tuesday, when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Treowen Stars.
Certainly using a 3G playing surface has not given them any advantage as they have lost nine of 15 league matches at this venue.
It took from late November until March 5 for YMCA to compile their last-six form and this game is the start of the second half of their fixture programme.
Will be seeking to avenge a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Lliswerry on November 21 last year and this is another match-up which lends itself to parity.
Last-six guide:
Lliswerry: L W L L L L
Athletic Ground: Treharris Athletic Western (12) v Treowen Stars (14).
Treowen eased their relegation worries with a 1-0 away win on Tuesday night over Lliswerry, where Johnny Edwards scored a penalty - after Lewis Coote has missed a similar kick.
Only goal difference in Treharris' favour seperates these two sides, although Treowen have played a couples of games less.
And because they have won two and drawn one of their last four away fixtures, they will go into this game confident of achieving another positive result.
Treharris have also been doing fairly well recently with 10 points from 18, although they were 5-3 losers at Panteg last Saturday.
Last-six guide:
Treharris: D W L W W L
Treowen: L D L W L W
FAW Trophy, semi final (5.30pm kick off).
Latham Park, Newtown: Abergavenny Town v Queens Park (Wrexham).
Abergavenny take a break from their bid to earn first-time promotion to Division Two and besides the prestige of reaching a national competition final, they stand to pick up some reasonable prize money.
They will earn £1,500 if they lose this tie, £3,000 if they end up as beaten finalists and £5,000 if they should progress to lift the winner's silverware.
Both sides are prolific scorers, Abergavenny have netted 71 in 22 Welsh League games and Queens Park 70 in only 17 Welsh National League (Wrexham area) matches.
Therefore a no-score draw is highly unlikely and the smart money may be on this tie going all the way to a penalty shoot-out on this 3G playing surface.