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Risca United v Abertillery Bluebirds: Top of the Table Preview

Forget Arsenal’s aggro with Manchester City, ignore Wrexham’s ruck with Notts County, the real battle between the top two is taking place at the top of the Ardal League South East.

On Wednesday night, the leaders Risca United clash at home to second-place Abertilley Bluebirds in a match that will go a long way to deciding the destiny of the title.

Risca are currently top with 48 points, seven points clear of Abertillery.

But the Bluebirds have three games in hand, meaning a victory at the leaders would cut the gap to just four points with 10 games left to play.

Even so, Abertillery manager Ben Murphy admits: “Risca top the table at the moment and have we got games in hand, but I’d much rather be sat at the top with the points on the board.

“They’re definitely favourites at this point of the season. But on the flip side, it is in our hands as well. If we win every game left, we’ll be champions.”

Both clubs have only lost twice all season, but Risca have the edge in head-to-heads.

There was a meeting in the Ardal South League Cup in January, where Risca emerged 1-0 winners.

After that, there was a 1-1 draw in the league in February, but Murphy feels his team are confident after remaining unbeaten in the league since September when they were beaten 4-2 by Chepstow.

“We go into the game full of confidence, but we also know that on paper, Risca are the favourites,.

“A lot of people are talking about this match being a massive must-win game. It is a huge game, there’s no hiding away from that. But there are still 10 games left for us to play after this one, so I don’t think it necessarily decides where the title goes.”

Risca appear to have the greater fire power, with 50 goals scored in the league, compared to Abertilley’s total of 38.

But the Bluebirds have the edge in defence, with only 22 goals conceded compared to Risca United’s 28.

Abertilley will look to the striking skills of Christian Mbongompasi for goals, while skipper Richie Crees provides the defensive foundation.

“We have one of the best defences in the league, and we score a decent number of goals, too, so there’s a good mix,” adds Murphy.

“Only one side gets promoted and last year we came runners-up last year and lost in the play-off.

“We don’t want to be in that position again, so we want to make sure we take that final step.”

Risca United v Abertillery Bluebirds – Wednesday, March 22. 7.45pm.

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