Phase one in the Genero Adran Premier concludes on Sunday afternoon as The New Saints host Abergavenny, with the final spot in the Championship Conference still up for grabs.
Greg Draper’s side are currently fifth in the league table, three points behind Pontypridd United – who missed the opportunity to secure fourth place in midweek.
After TNS suffered a 5-2 defeat to Swansea City on Wednesday night, the Dragons needed just a point against Abergavenny on Thursday to confirm their spot in the top half but they lost 1-0 at Pen-Y-Pound in what was their final phase one fixture.
Because TNS currently have an inferior goal difference to Pontypridd, they need to win by at least four goals at Park Hall on Sunday to leapfrog their rivals into fourth.
Abergavenny may be bottom of the table, but they have shown in recent weeks that they are not to be underestimated.
After earning their first point of the season in a 3-3 draw with Barry Town United before Christmas, the Pennies have started 2023 with back-to-back clean sheets in a 0-0 draw against Cardiff Met before their victory over Pontypridd on Thursday.
Josh Anderson’s side are now five points adrift of safety, so will be targeting another point or three to keep their momentum going ahead of phase two.
The first 45 minutes of this game were of course played last month, with TNS racing into a 3-0 lead in the first half thanks to a brace from Caitlin Chapman and Emily Ridge’s finish. However, the referee decided to abandon the match at half-time due to a frozen pitch at Park Hall.
In the reverse fixture at Pen-Y-Pound in October, TNS won 4-2 as Beth Lewis, Izzy Redding, Danielle Staley and Chapman found the net.
Speaking after his side’s defeat to Swansea on Wednesday, Greg Draper said: “We played Abergavenny a couple of weeks ago and beat them 3-0 in 45 minutes, so we will be wanting to score as many goals as possible. They have picked up some good points in their last few games, so they have obviously found something that they are doing right.
“They are at the bottom of the table where I’m sure they don’t want to be, so they will come out fighting and looking for three points no doubt. I am sure it will be an end-to-end game with lots of chances, but as long as we play like we did tonight then we will be comfortable.”
Meanwhile, Josh Anderson said of his Abergavenny side: “One of the biggest things that I am telling the girls at the moment is belief. They are good enough. I know that, now it is just trying to embed that into the girls. We have had some great results, a draw against Barry, a draw against Cardiff Met and now we have beaten a good Pontypridd side.
“There has been a lot of good to take, but being critical there are a lot of things that we can tidy up on as well and that is scoring more goals! We can keep them out at one end, we have kept two clean sheets on the bounce now, that’s outstanding. The girls have got to take credit for everything they have done and hopefully we can get another positive result at TNS, which will be tough.”