With the festive period vastly approaching, Caernarfon Town are proudly sitting top of the Cymru Alliance this Christmas.
After Rhayader’s withdrawal from the league, it’s reduced the games to 28, meaning we’re now at the halfway stage and the table begins to develop a story.
North Wales football expert Dean Jones who writes for the Rhyl Journal and the North Wales Chronicle gives his say on what he’s made of Wales’ second division so far.
The story of the season so far
It has been another hugely unpredictable season so far, with the additions of Airbus Broughton and Rhyl giving the Huws Gray Alliance an added sense of intrigue.
Both relegated sides have found life tough in the second tier so far, and Niall McGuinness felt the effects of this and left his post with the Lilywhites, only to turn up at Flint Town United a few weeks later.
As expected by many, Caernarfon Town have been the standout team thus far and look like they are right on course for a tilt at the JD Welsh Premier League, and the departure of Iwan Williams to Llandudno may have caused a stir but it has not altered the team’s focus thanks in no small part to the easy transition they have made to life under Sean Eardley.
Newly promoted Llandudno Junction and FC Queen’s Park occupy the bottom two spots but have acquitted themselves well at times, while the likes of Denbigh Town, Guilsfield and Holywell Town will all fancy their chances heading into the second half of the season.
More was expected of Caersws after a number of impressive pre-season signings, while Holyhead Hotspur have also fallen off after a standout opening to the season.
Biggest overachievers in the Cymru Alliance this season
They were expected to finish in the top-eight but I have been very impressed with Holywell Town and the way the club have applied themselves this season.
The Wellmen do not have the biggest budget in the league by any stretch of the imagination, but manager Johnny Haseldin has made some shrewd signings including striker Steve Lewis, who is a huge part of why they have been so successful.
Town have more than held their own against everyone so far and with another good run of form they may end up challenging Caernarfon and Denbigh in the hopes of bringing an unlikely title to Halkyn Road.
Biggest underachievers in the Cymru Alliance so far
I would have to say Flint Town United, purely because of the amount of talent littered within their squad and the ambitions they harboured at the start of the campaign.
They have flattered to deceive for the most part and former Rhyl manager Niall McGuinness now has a massive job on his hands to get them climbing the table and avoid a lower half finish, which will be easier said than done when you consider the wealth of talented sides that have proved to be far more consistent this term.
Player of the half-season
There are a few candidates that would be more than worthy, but I would have to give the slightest of edges to Nathan Craig of Caernarfon Town.
He has skippered the side to the summit this season and has contributed a significant amount of goals from midfield which have played a huge contributing factor in their success.
Craig is one of the most gifted players operating outside of the JD Welsh Premier League
Manager of the half season
This would probably have been Iwan Williams before he departed to Llandudno, but Eddie Maurice-Jones of Denbigh Town is equally as deserving.
The club has big ambitions after building their new seater stand, and under Maurice-Jones they have turned into an elite second tier force with match-winners all over the pitch.
He has built a solid foundation and in the likes of Warren Duckett and Jonathan Hill-Dunt they have plenty of big game experience to call upon, plus with the talented trio of Craig Pritchard, Kristian Pierce and Josh Davies they will cause any team problems.
Can the league leaders Caernarfon Town be caught?
There is a long way to go before the final standings are confirmed, but it is going to take a monumental effort for anyone to deny the Cofis a long-awaited berth in the WPL.
The appointment of Sean Eardley ensured that the continuity within the club remained unchanged, and their talent is matched only by their team spirit that has seen them through some difficult situations including their come-from-behind draw at Airbus Broughton.
They are going to be a tough nut to crack and few would deny that they are going to be a huge asset to the top flight should they get there, and I feel they would more than hold their own with a few additions.
(Featured Image: Rhys Skinner)