TOP flight clubs will take the field for their first round of JD Welsh Premier League fixtures this weekend.
With a number of clubs strengthening their squad throughout the window, it promises to be a fascinating campaign with plenty of twists and turns as the season unfolds.
Reporter Dean Jones marks your card with his predictions for week one.
Bangor City vs The New Saints:
Games do not get much bigger than this at the top of the Welsh pyramid, and the Citizens will be looking to lay down an early title marker at the expense of the all-conquering full-timers.
Rookie manager has made plenty of positive changes at the Bangor University Stadium has he looks to spearhead a championship charge, and they will be looking to capitalise on any uncertainty that may lie within the TNS squad following the departure of highly successful manager Craig Harrison to Hartlepool United.
A tough one to call early on, but home advantage could prove key in a clash between two teams who have experienced European football this summer.
Prediction: Bangor City 2-1 New Saints.
Prestatyn Town vs Connah’s Quay:
Neil Gibson’s side make their triumphant return to the WPL in a Friday night home fixture, but they have been handed a tough test in the form of Connah’s Quay, who harbour ambitions to surpass TNS and finally get their hands on the trophy.
Having signed a number of players to professional deals, manager Andy Morrison will be hoping for a similar outcome to their Welsh Cup clash at the Motion Finance Stadium last season after winning on penalties following a 2-2 draw, while the Seasiders have stuck with the majority of the squad that ran out convincing winners of the Huws Gray Alliance.
This is an intriguing tie and one where the visitors may just come out on top.
Prediction: Prestatyn Town 1-2 Connah’s Quay.
Bala Town vs Newtown:
The Welsh Cup winning Lakesiders go into the upcoming campaign with plenty of confidence, and they have been buoyed by the arrival of a proven goalscorer at this level in the form of Les Davies.
In contrast, the Robins were dealt a blow with the loss of top scorer Jason Oswell, and manager Chris Hughes will be looking to avoid the poor start that saw them involved in a relegation battle before coming up with a fantastic sequence of results to end their season.
Colin Caton’s men are one of the more fancied sides this season and I would be surprised if they did not start on a winning note.
Prediction: Bala Town 2-0 Newtown.
Cefn Druids vs Cardiff Met:
Two of last season’s surprise packages lock horns in the opening weekend, with both looking to emulate the form that saw them exceed all expectations.
The Rock will need to become a fortress once again if the Ancients are to lay the foundations to another successful campaign, while the students are riding on the crest of a wave but will be wary of falling into the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’.
It remains to be seen whether the long trip up north will take its toll on the visitors, who would undoubtedly take a point from proceedings.
Prediction: Cefn Druids 1-1 Cardiff Met.
Llandudno vs Carmarthen Town:
The onus will be on Alan Morgan’s side to come up with more goals to ensure that their home form improves, and the Tudno boss has bolstered his forward line in the hope of achieving this.
In Toby Jones, Ryan Edwards and Shaun Cavanagh they have a trio of exciting players that will compliment Marc Williams, while big things are also expected of striker Sam Ilesanmi who arrives from Tranmere Rovers.
The Old Gold are a top six side that plays a certain way, and their physical style is sure to give every side in the division serious problems this term.
Prediction: Llandudno 1-0 Carmarthen Town.
Barry Town United vs Aberystwyth Town:
A tale of two WPL returns in this one, with former Bangor boss Nev Powell taking his Town side to newly promoted Barry.
The Aber boss has not had long to implement his ideas and this could work in United’s favour as they look to mark their opening home game with a win.
Prediction: Barry Town United 3-1 Aberystwyth Town.