Sportsline chief reporter Andrew Clarke looks into his crystal football to see how the race for the division one title will pan out in the New Year.
When the bell was about to sound in the race for the league title last season in division one there were at least five teams in with a realistic chance of lifting the silverware with Lampeter, Llandysul, Cardigan, Bargod Rangers and Newcastle Emlyn all battling it out going into the final lap.
The Magpies eventually came through on the last Saturday of the season to secure the Norman Llewellyn Memorial Trophy and to cap arguably the most exciting finale ever to a season in the Costcutter League.
This time around though it looks like a straight two horse race between leaders Llandysul and Lampeter Town although Newcastle Emlyn will obviously figure in the run in if the wheels fall off at Parc Tir Y Dref.
However, it is very difficult to see this happening as the Swallows have a very good all round squad and one strong enough to put up with any injury problems and manager Chris ‘Coco’ Davies has assembled one of the best ever Llandysul teams in their history.
His troops have won all but one of their thirteen games to date although they were almost undone last time out until Scott Thomas popped up in extra time to fire home an equaliser.
There are not many teams capable of beating Llandysul apart from Emlyn and Lampeter and they have already met the leaders on two occasions this term and apart from Cardigan on a good day and possibly Crannog it is difficult to see where they are going to lose points.
If Lampeter win all their remaining games and Llandysul drop four points the north road men will be champions but that is a very tall order as Luke Lovell and his men probably don’t have as much strength in depth and a few injuries would knock the stuffing out of them. They have big players in Lovell, Gethin Hunter and Gethin Davies to name just a few and they will find it tough against the likes of Cardigan Town without players of this calibre. One advantage is that Lampeter know exactly what they have to do and the Magpies did it last season so it is not impossible but even if they do win all their games, and this will be no mean feat, they have to rely on others.
This observer tipped Llandysul to win the division one title before a ball was kicked and I have no reason to change my opinion with nine games to go as the best team always comes through in the end and the Swallows are the best equipped team.
On the cup trail there are some very big games coming up over the next six weeks especially in the J.Emrys Morgan Cup. Last season’ finalists Llandysul are still haunted by their failure to lift the trophy last April despite totally outplaying the eventual winners Llanfair and they must be favourites to get to the final once again. They play local rivals Pencader in the fourth round and manager Kevin Evans and his men will be looking forward to this tasty cup encounter. If manager Davies can steer his team over this hurdle they have a more than decent chance of going one better this term.
Crannog also have a great opportunity to make up for losing in this final a few years ago and they are certainly good enough to win this competition this season. They face Newcastle in round four and Dylan Evans and co will be confident and quite rightly so as they have assembled one of their best all round teams for many a year. The addition to their side of brothers Dylan and Rhys Davies, both former Magpies has turned this average team into a good side and just a few weeks ago they defeated Llandysul. The reward for this win is a quarter final home tie against Llanilar and Crannog will fancy their chances of getting into the penultimate round.
Cardigan are also in the fourth round of the J.Emrys but they face a tricky tie away at Berriew and it would be a major surprise if they are still in the hat for round five.
So plenty to play for and some interesting matches to come up over the next few months all of which will be covered as usual by Sportsline. Your sporting heartbeat