Welsh Football Round-Up: Neville Powell on the brink as Bangor’s woes continue

‘NEV KNOWS’, proclaimed the defiant banner in Nantporth’s home end last Friday night. Originally intended as a gesture of support for Bangor’s beleaguered manager, these words have assumed a rather more ominous tone for Neville Powell after the full time whistle sounded, as his team were forced to come to terms with yet another chastening defeat. Rooted to the bottom of the Welsh Premier League table, and having amassed a mere two points since the start of the season, Nev knew before Bangor’s crunch match against Cefn Druids that he potentially (according to media reports) had as few as two games to save his job. Following a 1-0 defeat courtesy of an 87th minute Derek Taylor goal for the Druids, Nev now knows that the managerial axe, if not quite yet in full swing, is certainly grazing his neck.

Bangor-CityAs TNS look set to march relentlessly and predictably towards a fourth consecutive league title, perhaps the most arresting story that has emerged from this season’s action in the Welsh Premier League has been the unlikely travails of Bangor City, who have yet to record a league win after 9 rounds of fixtures. While their struggles were initially dismissed as merely an early season blip, the stark realisation has started to materialise amongst Welsh Premier League pundits and commentators that Bangor may well be forced into a prolonged battle against relegation, which – at the current moment – appears an almighty challenge for the Citizens to overcome. In a league beset by apathy and poor attendance, the prospect that next season’s Welsh Premier Division may not feature Bangor City – who have been mainstays in the league since its inception in 1992, and have consistently attracted its largest crowds – is perhaps inconceivable. Yet the recent examples of Barry Town, Cwmbran and Rhyl conclusively demonstrate that reputation alone is no safeguard in the often turbulent climate of Welsh club football.

Unlike Rhyl and Barry however, whose downfalls were triggered by administrative complications and financial pressures respectively, the identification of the exact causes of Bangor’s present malaise is a rather less straightforward exercise, which is perhaps why so much attention has been focused upon Neville Powell’s position. With a squad that has remained largely intact since last season, and still boasts the talents of Welsh Premier League veterans Les Davies and Chris Jones, this is a team that is severely underacheiving, as the intimidation factor for opposing sides has all but disappeared from the Nantporth stadium. In what has become a recurring line of argument in recent weeks, Powell bemoaned his side’s luck in the post-match interview, pointing to three missed chances for Bangor and the deflected nature of the Nomads’ winning goal, but in truth Bangor were well deserving of their latest defeat. Indeed, it was only the recklessness of the Druids during the last five minutes that prevented the score-line from assuming an even more embarrassing appearance for the Citizens. Despite retaining the support of the majority of the Bangor faithful (primarily for his role in securing the clubs first league title in sixteen years back in 2011) Powell’s position could become untenable unless a positive result is secured against Gap Connah’s Quay this weekend. The football manager’s seat is never secure and, right now, Nev knows this better than anyone…

 Talking Points

  • Aberystwyth’s slip-up against Prestatyn over the weekend meant that TNS were able to extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points, courtesy of a 2-1 win away at Carmarthen. While Airbus’ victory against Rhyl may hint at another challenge to the Saints’ supremacy this season, once again the story of the Welsh Premier League seems to be that of ‘TNS and the rest’. It would take a brave man indeed to bet against them retaining their league title.
  • Gary Monk’s outburst towards Victor Moses’ antics following the 2-1 defeat to Stoke was an uncharacteristically impassioned display by the typically reserved Swansea manager, and it will be interesting to see whether the media attention caused by his forthright comments will affect the Swans’ composure as they face Leicester on Saturday. While Monk had every right to feel aggrieved, sometimes it is wiser to avoid the glare of the media spotlight, especially when one’s team is playing above expectations.
  • And finally, a quick word of congratulations to my team Brecon Northcote, who secured a stunning 2-1 win away at Mid Wales South League leaders Hay St. Mary’s over the weekend. Welsh lower league football is a great source of entertainment, excitement and local pride for the discerning fan, and I would advise anyone with an interest in Welsh football to go along and watch over the course of this season. You won’t be disappointed.