AFTER their visit to Prestatyn Town was postponed for the second time last weekend, Barry Town United go west this Friday knowing three points will secure their JD Welsh Premier League survival.

Their match with Carmarthen Town will be Barry’s tenth visit to Richmond Park in the League of Wales/Welsh Premier era, with the Jenner Park outfit holding the edge over their Carmarthenshire counterparts with four wins, three draws and three defeats, scoring 19 goals and conceding 14.

In their first clash in February 1997, hotshot Tony Bird would be on target in a 1-1 draw with the newly-promoted Old Gold, but more will remember the sides’ second encounter that September.

Almost 1,000 saw Eifion Williams, Chris Pike, Darren Ryan and Craig Evans steer Barry to an entertaining 5-3 win, although this fixture was notable for legendary full-back, Gary Lloyd, deputising in goal.

Controversy ensued in December 1998, after Barry, in all white on a muddy surface, were humbled 2-1 at Richmond Park in spite of Lee Barrow’s equaliser. A memorable result to mark Tomi Morgan’s first game in charge of Carmarthen, the match would be goalkeeper Andy Dibble’s last for Barry; the former Wales international suffering injuries from hydrated lime used to mark out the grass pitch.

Dibble would eventually be awarded some £20,000 in damages, while the ground is now home to one of the league’s state-of-the-art 3G surfaces, opened in September against the champions TNS.

In March 2000, Carmarthen claimed another big win over Barry, clinching a 3-2 win despite efforts from Jody Jenkins and Darren Davies. This result would prove a significant one, as the visitors’ iron grip on Wales’ national league trophy was broken by a mere two-point margin the following month.

Barry though would recover in April 2001, Terry Evans adding to Jamie Moralee’s hat-trick in a 4-1 win. With former Swindon Town man Fraser Digby in the net, Barry came from behind to take all three points and a European berth; something the club is now working hard to make a reality again.

In January 2002, more than 600 saw David Toomey bag both goals in a 2-1 Barry triumph at Richmond Park before Lawrence Davies was the one with a brace in a 2-2 draw that November; the visitors showing real resilience after Lee Jarman had been sent off inside 15 minutes for a handball on the goalline.

As fate would have it, the versatile Lloyd was forced to deputise between the sticks again, but was up to the challenge, as his side prevailed in their well-received, if short-lived, maroon change strip.

By September 2003, the Welsh Premier landscape had changed considerably, especially for Barry Town, who had seen an exodus of unpaid professionals cripple their title defence from the onset.

Nevertheless, a trip to Richmond Park brought some welcome relief for battling, budget-cut Barry; a goalless draw delivering their first point of the season under popular new manager David Hughes.

Meanwhile, in this December’s most recent meeting, first-half goals from Macauley Southam-Hales and Kayne McLaggon helped Gavin Chesterfield’s Barry emerge as 2-1 victors, after the home team had been reduced to ten men early on with the dismissal of influential skipper Lee Surman.

To their sizeable credit, Carmarthen have produced a host of eye-catching victories in the weeks that followed, beating Aberystwyth Town twice over the Christmas period, before kicking off Phase Two with successive wins against Prestatyn and Newtown, as well as a 4-1 JD Welsh Cup win at Airbus.

With their re-scheduled Welsh Cup quarter-final with Aberystwyth to be completed on Tuesday (6th March), Carmarthen will tackle a refreshed Barry on three days’ rest, but the Old Gold look a re-energised prospect, bolstered by the signing of prolific goalscorer Luke Bowen from Port Talbot.

A constant in the Welsh top flight since that first in 1996-97, it is expected that Carmarthen will be pulling out all stops to avoid relegation, with former Barry player Neil Smothers handed the task of orchestrating the great escape; something that appeared almost inevitable just a few months ago.

For Barry Town, supporters will be interested to see the role played by Cypriot-Australian James Demetriou, whose stunning hat-trick from the bench in their most recent game will have brought him into contention for a starting place, in what is becoming an ultra-competitive Town frontline.

Should the club seal their safety this Friday by reaching the 39-point mark, attention will then switch fully to the chase for that UEFA Europa League play-off place, with Barry leading the way from Newtown by three points (with a game in hand), having won three Phase Two fixtures to date.

Kick-off this Friday night at Richmond Park (SA31 1HZ) between Carmarthen and Barry is at 7.45pm, with a good number of supporters expected to make the journey to see this latest chapter unfold.