JD Cymru Premier
Saturday 20th March – 2.30pm KO
MATCH BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Aberystwyth Town return to Park Avenue tomorrow to take on Newtown in the early anticipated Mid Wales derby. Originally scheduled for 22nd December but delayed because of the lockdown, this is a fixture that is relished by both sets of supporters and one with a lot of history.
With the ruling on Thursday night that the JD Cymru North & South leagues will not go ahead this season, relegation from the JD Cymru Premier now looks unlikely. Therefore, both Aberystwyth Town and Newtown will celebrate 30 years in the top flight next year – the only clubs who will be able to do so - as the league reaches a significant milestone.
This fixture has been played more than any other in Cymru Premier history. In the first season of the league, then known as the Konica League of Wales, the Black & Greens recorded a double against the Robins. Andrew Radford was the hero of the first game, netting a hat-trick in a 6-1 victory at Park Avenue, before the Seasiders triumphed 3-1 at Latham Park in the return fixture.
In recent years, this fixture has proved to be significant for both sides. In 2015, Newtown memorably qualified for Europe at Aber’s expense – winning the Playoff Final 2-1 at Park Avenue in front of a crowd of over 1000 spectators. Three years later, it was Aber’s turn to celebrate in the Welsh Cup Semi-Final at Bala, as Declan Walker’s double sent the Seasiders into the Welsh Cup Final for the 3rd time in 9 years.
In the present day, both sides come into this fixture on the back of some good form following the restart. Chris Hughes made some astute signings in January, bringing in players who not only offer a lot of quality, but know both the league and Newtown as a club well. Shane Sutton, Lifumpa Mwandwe, Alex Fletcher and Callum Roberts all have previous experience at Latham Park and their presence has been felt already, as Newtown have won 3 of out 4 games since the restart, only losing to top of the table Connahs Quay. These results have lifted the Robins to 8th place in the league – 8 points clear of the bottom two.
Nick Rushton is Newtown’s top goalscorer this season, with 6 goals from 17 appearances. Tyrone Ofori has 5 in 15, whilst James Davies and Jordan Evans have both scored 4, from 16 and 18 appearances respectively.
Aber’s own form is much improved since the re-start, with last weeks late defeat at Barry Town United the only time Gavin Allen’s team have lost a match since play resumed, although the performance at Jenner Park certainly warranted a share of the spoils at the very least. Aber’s own new recruits are impressing, with Jon Owen & Jamie Reed already on the scoresheet and Harry Franklin catching the eye in midfield, whilst Harri Horwood made his first appearance since his return to the club at Barry.
There are many players who have worn both the Black & Green of Aber and the Red of Newtown with distinction. Aneurin Thomas, Kevin Morrison & Jonathan Williams represented both teams in Europe, whilst in recent years Gavin Cadwallader, Rio Ahmadi, Luke Boundford and Ross Stephens have all played for both sides.
The current teams also boast players who have played for both. Jamie Reed hit 10 goals in 24 games for Newtown after signing in 2017, despite a bad injury hampering his time at the club; whilst Sam Barnes and Jack Thorn have also represented The Robins over the past couple of seasons. Newtown captain, Craig Williams, spent two years at Park Avenue under Alan Morgan from 2010-2012 before returning to Latham Park and Ryan Edwards made the switch down the A44 in January 2020 after 18 months at Park Avenue.
Last time out (at Latham Park in September) the points were shared, as an 85th minute Neil Mitchell goal meant that Aber had to settle for a draw after Jamie Veale’s excellent strike had given the Seasiders the lead in the first half. With both sides coming into this one in good form, we could well be set for a Mid Wales derby classic!
There is always plenty of excitement when these two teams meet, and tomorrow will be no different. Unfortunately, supporters cannot be admitted into Park Avenue to watch the match; however, you can follow all the action on our Twitter account @AberystwythTown as usual.
Thank you for your brilliant support!