Connah's Quay v The New Saints
JD Welsh Premier League. Kick off 4pm, August 19th.
THIS fixture features the dominant force in the Welsh Premier League TNS who have been largely unchallenged in their pursuit of the trophy since Bangor City won it back in the 2010-11 season.
Last season saw them claim their sixth title in succession, with Sunday's opponents Connah's Quay finishing 17 points behind them in third place.
Connah's Quay will have been pleased with that league position last season as well as claiming the Welsh Cup with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Aberystwyth in the final, a result that saw them qualify for the Europa League qualifiers for a third successive campaign.
The European adventure was to be short lived however, Shaktyor Soligorsk of Belarus seeing them off 5-1 over two legs. Connah's Quay won't be too disheartened however, as the prize money banked from just entering the qualifiers is a lucrative amount for Welsh clubs.
It is this prize money which helps TNS to dominate the Welsh League year after year, with something of a snowball effect… the more times they win the league, the more they enter the Champions League qualifiers, use the prize money to strengthen and accordingly become harder to topple each year.
They exited the Champions League qualifiers at the first hurdle, before a 3-2 aggregate win over Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar saw them drawn with much larger opposition in the form of Midtjylland, who finished second in the Danish Superliga last season, narrowly missing out on the title. They gave Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal a scare in the 2016 Europa League, beating them 2-1 in Denmark before a certain Marcus Rashford announced himself to the world by scoring twice on his debut in the 5-1 victory back at Old Trafford.
Given the obvious mismatch in size between the two clubs, TNS losing 5-1 over the two legs will be seen as a respectable effort by the welsh club, losing 2-0 at home and 3-1 away is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
Both Connah's Quay and TNS will now be focusing on the league, and Connah's Quay will be hoping along with Bala Town to be the closest challengers to the welsh champions this season. Both these sides recorded big wins on the opening weekend, a 5-1 home win for TNS against Barry Town while Connah's Quay thumped Llanelli 7-0 away from home.
With the last two meetings between these two teams seeing an over 2.5 and over 3.5 goals result and both teams scoring, I expect more of the same on Sunday.
- TNS to win and both teams to score, 21/10 (Bet365)
- Over 1.5 first half goals, 11/10 (Bet365)
- TNS to win 3-2, 18/1 (Bet365)