Connah's Quay 2 Barry Town 2

BARRY Town welcome JD Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints to Jenner Park this Saturday for a match that could see either end up topping the table.

With Barry contesting a gripping 2-2 draw at Connah's Quay Nomads last weekend, both Town and Nomads now sit on 29 points at the head of the national division.

Meanwhile, a stuttering Saints side were beaten 1-0 at home by Caernarfon Town on Friday, with Nathan Craig's late penalty kick proving the difference maker.

Flagship professionals TNS can reclaim top spot with victory at Jenner Park on Saturday, a ground they have won at one each of their previous three visits.

A win or a draw for Barry though would send Gavin Chesterfield's side to the summit again, a position they ever-so-briefly held in Deeside last Saturday.

After hitting Llanelli for six the previous weekend and scoring three without reply in the corresponding fixture last season, Connah's Quay were expected to pose Barry problems and wasted little time in taking the game to the visitors.

In one highlight of the early stages, Michael Bakare would dance his way through the Barry defence, before forcing a close range save from goalkeeper Mike Lewis.

After 18 minutes, Bakare found his breakthrough, latching onto a defensive header some 30 yards from goal and opting to test Lewis with a measured, left-footed strike that hotfooted its way across the turf and into the bottom corner.

Then, after Laurence Wilson's ball into the box set up a hectic scramble, Lewis stood tall, doing incredibly well to palm Ryan Wignall's final effort high and over the bar, when it looked as if the hosts were set to double their advantage.

For over half an hour, Nomads had their way with Barry, yet with only a single goal for their efforts, the league leaders remained liable to a counter attack.

The pendulum would start its sensational swing in the 39th minute, after the Connah's Quay goalkeeper John Danby lifted his goal kick to target man Bakare.

Carrying the ball onward sat pace, the travelled Londoner burst into the Barry penalty area, only to see his fierce final shot rocket back off the crossbar.

Then, almost immediately, Barry's Troy Greening cleared the rebound down the field, where teammate Kayne McLaggon was on hand to pressurise the lone Nomads defender, while simultaneously drawing a daring Danby way out of his goalmouth.

While the Nomads stopper did enough to connect with the ball, it quickly spilt free to an unmarked Modou Touray and the loan signing from League 2 outfit Newport County coolly rolled it into an empty net to equalise for Barry.

Within mere minutes, one became two, as some intrepid running from maverick wing-back Macauley Southam-Hales down the right-hand flank allowed teammate Jonathan Hood to pick out hitman Touray at the far post for a simple finish.

The goal was Touray's sixth of the season, yet few can have been celebrated so wildly by the travelling Barry supporters, who had seen their side go from a goal adrift to leading at the break; and top of the JD Welsh Premier League!

With a lead now to defend, the second period was a compelling and frenetic 45 minutes, duly following the tone set by those final minutes of the first half.

After surviving another scramble at one end, Barry had a chance to make it three at the other as magic man Touray, on for his hat-trick, bore down on goal again.

However, the recent Wales U21 international would suffer an unpunished shirt pull from Danny Holmes, before John Disney delivered a crucial clearing tackle.

Touray's afternoon would last until the 72nd minute, replaced by substitute Louis Gerrard, who soon made an impact of his own, as the back action resumed.

Spotting McLaggon in a dangerous position, Gerrard would pick out his man, but McLaggon failed to deal with the bounce and blazed his effort over the crossbar.

Barry were then punished with 76 minutes played, as Nomads substitute Rob Hughes hit a left-footed effort from outside the box that flew into the bottom corner.

At 2-2, with a quarter of an hour remaining, both sides then threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the other to try and secure a memorable win.

After Gerrard teed up Chris Hugh, the Wales C international made his way up into the Nomads' penalty area, but his ball from the left across a diving Danby agonisingly eluded both McLaggon in the middle and Hood at the back post.

Greening then served up another chance with a long ball over the top, yet while McLaggon got the better of his marker, his final effort at goal was off target.

At the opposite end, Bakare's flick-on header provided Jack Kenny with a decent opportunity to head at goal, only for Lewis to pull out another important save.

Going for goal once more, the hosts then saw a shot from Holmes charged down, before Barry broke away, leaving Southam-Hales with a one-on-one against Danby.

Initially saving with his legs, goalkeeper Danby was left a mere spectator as Southam-Hales' follow-up header made its way on towards the Connah's Quay net.

However, Disney had done well to track back and headed the effort off the line.

It was a breathless finale to a truly absorbing contest, one that either team may well have deserved to win and yet neither maybe had truly deserved to lose.

Should Saturday's encounter between Barry and TNS deliver half the excitement, then supporters at Jenner Park are in for quite the treat this coming weekend.

With Connah's Quay contesting an IRN-BRU Cup tie at Hampden Park this weekend, the stage is now perfectly set for either Barry or TNS to take over as leaders.

Though Barry were beaten 5-1 at Park Hall on the season's opening day, their run of seven wins and a draw from the last nine league games is an impressive one.

Moreover, fans of the Jenner Park side will look to the club's home record as a source of encouragement, with none of the visitors to Jenner Park coming away with a point this season and only one with an away win in the whole of 2018.

While the fate of this season's JD Welsh Premier League championship will not be decided this Saturday, the fact that Barry are right in the mix at the mid-point of November suggests this could well be the most exciting season in many a year.

Will TNS suffer the same Jenner Park fate as Llandudno, Llanelli, Carmarthen and so many others have, or do the champions, with all their professional pedigree, have the ability to bounce back and put Barry's dreams on hold?

Admission for Saturday's 2.30pm JD Welsh Premier League showdown is £7 (adults), £5 (senior citizens and students) and £3 (children), payable at the turnstiles.