Caernarfon Town target Euro play-off final

Huw Griffiths (centre) and his management team. Picture: Paul Evans

Caernarfon Town aim to make it third time lucky when they travel to Barry Town United for a JD Cymru Premier Euro Play-Off semi-final today.

In the past two seasons, the Canaries have finished in the top six but not yet gone all the way to qualify for Europe.

They lost 3-2 at home to Cardiff Met University in the 2018-19 semi-final, then last season the play-offs did not take place with the campaign curtailed in early March due to coronavirus.

Barry were granted qualification to the Europa League preliminary round as the fourth-placed club, while Caernarfon a position below missed out.

This season, the Cofis have ended up in sixth spot, with Barry in fifth.

Last weekend, in the final round of fixtures in the regular season, Barry defeated Caernarfon 3-2 at Jenner Park.

So, will lightning strike twice, or can Huw Griffiths’ side turn the tables?

In the other semi, Penybont host Newtown on Sunday.

Cofis manager Griffiths was full of optimism ahead of a second visit in seven days to Barry.

Today’s semi will be shown live on S4C and kicks off at 5.30 pm.

Griffiths said: “Our first target at the beginning of the season was to remain in the league, our second was to get a top six finish and a chance to qualify for Europe – both of which we have achieved.

“It has been a difficult season for lots of reasons, but without doubt the most difficult thing for Caernarfon Town to contend with has been ‘the missing fans’ (having to play all games behind closed doors).

“I know how much the players were looking forward to playing in front of the Cofi Army in a packed Oval. Let’s hope that next season this will be the case.

“There have been lots of highs and lows during the season, but for me the most important thing has been the sense of ‘belonging’ and support that you get when you’re at Caernarfon.

“Last Saturday we played Barry in a dress rehearsal of this weekend’s massive play-off semi final against them. On the day, Barry deserved their 3-2 win over us; we played well in the first half but it was a disappointing second half performance. There were, however, plenty of positives to take forward to the play-off.

“One thing is certain, the future of Caernarfon Town looks in safe hands! Young Harri Rees, the U-19’s Academy goalkeeper, made his debut, and a big well done to him for his performance; indeed there were four under 19 Academy players on the pitch at the end of the game.

“Also, last Saturday was captain Gareth Edwards’ 199th game for the club – an incredible achievement.

Congratulations to you Gaz, and on behalf of everyone connected with Caernarfon Town a HUGE thank you for everything you have done for the club. Mi rwyt ti’n arwr go iawn!

“So, on to the semi-final and the first stage of our third target – ‘to qualify for Europe’!

“I’m a firm believer that over a season all teams get their fair share of luck which helps them in games, I don’t think that so far Town has had its fair share – maybe today will be our turn.

“We won’t, though, just be relying on luck. I know the lads will give everything they’ve got to ensure a win. They’re mentally and physically prepared and can’t wait for the challenge ahead.”

Caernarfon have won just one of their last 11 matches, but they have risen to big occasions more than once this term and today is certainly one of those.

Squad: Harri Rees, Joe Williams, Ryan Williams, Gareth Edwards, Gruff John, Max Cleworth, Noah Edwards, Sion Bradley, Cai Jones, Darren Thomas, Jack Kenny, Paulo Mendes, Louis Kondjo, Mike Hayes, Jake Bickerstaff, Mike Parker, Telor Williams, Cian Evans, Mohammed El-Arab, Daniel Jones, Tyler French.

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