With just a matter of weeks to go in the season, four clubs are battling it out at the bottom of Division Three to maintain their Welsh League status.
Falling out the League involves dropping down into local leagues that are increasingly competitive and tough to achieve promotion from, with winning your league a must and even then some teams having to play another league winner in a one-off match for promotion.
This season’s relegation battle threatens to go right down to the wire, with the teams involved playing each other on a weekly basis – and uncertainty over whether in the final reckoning two or three teams will go down, meaning everyone is fighting for 13th place to assure safety.
Y Clwb Pel-Droed spoke to all the clubs involved as the fight for survival.
Ynysygerwn FC. Currently: 13th. Points: 29. Games remaining: 1.
Ynysygerwn are in their first season in the Welsh League, having been promoted through the Neath league at a rate of knots. Manager Nicki Maggs is under no illusion that survival would be a great achievement. Last weekend they found themselves 2-0 down at fellow strugglers Cwm Welfare, but fought back to earn an important point.
Nicki Maggs said, “That was a massive point for us in the end. If Cwm had won they’d have been three points behind us with a game in hand and a better goal difference. It was a huge point. To be fair, I think the game showed why we are both at the wrong end of the table, not enough composure and quality in front of goal.”
Their remaining fixture sees a visit to Cold Bath Road to play Caerleon. Maggs said, “The game against Caerleon is going to be nervy, but we’ve the points on the board and that’s where you want to be. Coming into the season I’d have bitten your hand off if you’d told me we’d have a chance to stay in the Welsh League.
“We’ve been promoted through the leagues quicker than I expected and I thought we might struggle this season. We’ve been really competitive in our games, but the table doesn’t lie and we’ve not been clinical enough in front of goal. We’ve had other problems, too, having to use four ‘keepers with our first choice out all season. No complaints, though, we’ll be telling the lads to go out and enjoy themselves in the final game, but three points will be crucial to staying in the league.”
Caerleon. Currently: 14th. Points: 24. Games remaining: 3
Caerleon are the longest established Welsh League club in those fighting the drop, with many seasons spent playing in Division One. However, the club has fallen away in recent seasons and now leaves them in the unthinkable position of losing their Welsh League status. Last weekend they had no fixture, and had to watch as others at the bottom picked up points. Two of their remaining matches are against Tredegar Town and Ynysgerwn.
A club spokesperson told this website that, “There were good were results for the teams around us at the weekend, however the comeback for Ynysygerwn probably helps us as a point a-piece for them and Cwm is what we wanted. Tredegar have games in hand and everything in their control. We’ll be looking to pick up nine points and go from there, hopefully some other teams can do us a favour and beat those around us.
“It is quite unthinkable that a club with our history and tradition could drop out the Welsh League and it’s not something we want to countenance. We’re confident of surivial!”
Cwm Welfare. Currently 15th. Points: 23. Games remaining: 2
Based in Beddau, Cwm Welfare are in their third Welsh League season having beaten Trefelin BGC in a playoff. They looked to be on their way to three huge points against Ynysygerwn last weekend, only to succumb to late pressure. They have two tough away fixtures, starting at title chasing Llantwit Major on Thursday night.
Manager Lee Williams said, “It’s always disappointing to relinquish a lead, especially against your relegation rivals and having controlled large parts of the game. We have to put it behind us and focus on what’s to come.
“Arguably we’ve got two of our toughest games of the season coming up and we’re going to need to win the both to have a good chance of staying up. Regardless of our league position, we have the quality to cause any teams trouble on our day and we’ll be giving everything to pick up six points and put pressure on those around us.”
Tredegar Town. Currently 16th. Points: 22. Games remaining: 6
At one point this season Tredegar Town looked dead and buried in the fight for the drop, but improved performances began turning into points, especially at home. They stunned top half Trethomas Bluebirds at the weekend with a comprehensive win, and with six games to play survival is theirs for the taking. Three of those games come when everyone else around them have finished for the season, meaning they’ll know exactly what they need to do.
Assistant Manager Liam McCann said, “It’s huge for us to stay in the Welsh League as you know when you drop out it is incredibly hard to get back in. When you’re a small town club with no budget, the Welsh League is hard. We’ve done really well to keep ourselves competitive and club chairman Riley Grey deserves a lot of credit.”
Reflecting on recent results and games ahead, McCann said, “The wins against Cwm Welfare and Trethomas have put us in a great position to stay up, although we disappointed to lose at Caerau where we felt the performance deserved a point.
“We think ten points will keep us up whether it is two or three down. The game against Caerleon is of huge importance.”
The games that matter in the fight for survival
Wednesday 26 April
Tredegar Town v STM Sports (KO 6:30pm)
Thursday 27 April
Llantwit Major v Cwm Welfare (KO 6:30pm)
Saturday 29 April
Tredegar Town v Caerleon (KO 2:30pm)
Wednesday 3 May
Caerleon v Ynysygerwn (KO 6:30pm)
Saturday 6 May
Caerau v Cwm Welfare (KO 2:30pm)
Tredegar Town v Trefelin GBC (KO 2:30pm)
Treharris Athletic Western v Caerleon (KO 2:30pm)
Tuesday 9 May
Treowen Stars v Tredegar Town (KO 6:30pm)
Thursday 11 May
Tredegar Town v Treowen Stars (KO 7:00pm)
Saturday 13 May
Ely Rangers v Tredegar Town (KO 2:30pm)
Courtesy of http://clwbpeldroed.org/2017/04/26/four-fight-avoid-welsh-league-drop/