TNS ARCHIVE
RIVALS REVEL IN BARRY'S DEMISE
WP ARCHIVE
In many respects the league table has a predictable look to it already, but the sight of Barry Town at the bottom, without a win and a goal difference of -15 takes some getting used to.
In many respects, the supporters of other teams will no doubt see the sight of the treble double winners at the foot of the league as a positive thing - a chance for their club to get among the silverware and an end to the traditional home and away defeats against the Dragons.
However, although a fully competitive open competition is something to welcome, Barry's dominance was generally a positive thing for the league.
As a full-time professional team making occasional progress in Europe, Barry Town were ambassadors for the league, the most visible club to those who still have to be convinced of the Welsh Premier's importance.
It's now essential that others improve to fill the gap, and in this respect at least there are encouraging signs.
Total Network Solutions, as the only full time club in the league, will almost certainly take up Barry's place as the dominant force.
And having already played their way to the leadership, I'd be amazed if they don't stay there for the remainder of the season.
The advantages of a professional set up and full-time training are impossible to overstate. I fully expect a comprehensive TNS win at the Druids on Friday night to confirm my theory.
However, should TNS simply replace Barry Town at the top and win everything in sight, the league will be no better off.
The chasing pack - Aberystwyth, Bangor and Rhyl - must close the gap and sustain a season long challenge.
Aberystwyth, in second place at the moment, have a potentially tricky home tie against Tomi Morgan's Carmarthen on Friday night; although history suggests an away win unlikely as Carmarthen have never won at Park Avenue in the WPL.
Bangor too will have to work hard for a win at improving Newtown, and Rhyl will have to take Caernarfon's unbeaten home record if they are to continue their fine start.
Caersws have a top six place at the moment (despite having drawn all three of their games at the Recreation Ground) and their seemingly endless run of shooting practice against Barry Town in both league and cup is brought to an end at home to Connah's Quay.
Haverfordwest and Welshpool will both have hopes of a top half season, and with nothing to separate them in mid-table at the moment, Saturday's winners at the New Bridge Meadow will take a big step towards that aim.
New boys Porthmadog will confirm their promise should they beat Brian Coyne's struggling Cwmbran.
All of which leaves us with Barry Town. Pointless and stranded at the foot of the table, they host Afan Lido on Friday night.
A positive result for the Dragons looks unlikely again, despite the Lido's winless run away from home this season.
If Barry don't pick up soon they'll find themselves a long way adrift and rather than trying to get used to the sight of them at the bottom we'll be having to get our heads around a league without them.

[Oliver Hides, Welsh Premier columnist, BBC Sport]

18 September 2021