Despite play-off final defeat Caernarfon’s season has been a success

Sion Bradley had an outstanding season for the Canaries. Picture: Paul Evans

They may have narrowly missed out on Europe but the 2020-21 season was far from a failure for Caernarfon Town.

Not only did the Canaries secure a third successive top six finish since their return to the Cymru Premier, they also made it to their first-ever Euro Play-Off Final.

Making history all the time…..

In a total of 16 seasons in the national league, three consecutive top six placings represents The Oval club’s finest-ever performance.

Praise is not only due for the bare results gained on the field for the Cofis, it was the adversity they overcame to achieve them.

While all clubs were forced to play matches behind closed doors this term, it was Caernarfon who undoubtedly suffered the most.

As the best-supported club in the Cymru Premier, the income lost through the turnstiles and in the ground on match-days will have hurt Town more than anyone.

Huw Griffiths (centre) and his management team

With finances hit, the task of building a competitive squad was no easy one, yet Huw Griffiths has done a magnificent job.

New players like Paulo Mendes and Louis Augustin made a major difference in the middle of the park, while young talents such as Sion Bradley, Ryan Williams and Telor Williams came on in leaps and bounds.

Experienced campaigners like Darren Thomas, Mike Hayes, Gareth Edwards and Joe Williams proved they still have what it takes to compete with the best and when excellent keeper Josh Tibbetts’ season ended early through injury, manager Griffiths worked wonders to bring in the equally adept Lewis Brass.

Loan captures Max Cleworth and Jacob Bickerstaff were magnificent, former Prestatyn Town stars Jack Kenny and Michael Parker made a great impact, and the likes of Noah Edwards, Gruffydd John and Cai Jones remained influential at key times.

While form overall was up and down over the season, the Canaries’ eight-match unbeaten run between December and March following a heavy defeat at Penybont undoubtedly proved key in securing Championship Conference status.

The magnificent Paulo Mendes

During that undefeated streak, Town showed true character, reflecting the motivational skills of the management.

To progress further next season, more consistency will be key.

But in the most testing of circumstances, Caernarfon Town have had a great season – no doubt about that.

Just a pity the final chapter did not quite go their way, and deliver a much-needed financial boost from Uefa, but they went down entertaining and fighting.

Let’s hope their fantastic fans are allowed back into matches next season. It is high time Welsh Government did the right thing.

Top six performances of the season

Newtown 2 Caernarfon Town 3 (Sep 15, 2020)
Town claimed their first league win at Latham Park against one of their bogey sides.
Despite trailing twice, goals from Paulo Mendes, Sion Bradley and Noah Edwards sealed the points for the visitors.
James Davies, as he did in the Play-Off final, scored twice for the Robins back in September, but on that occasion ended up a loser.

Cardiff Met University 0 Caernarfon Town 3 (October 3, 2020)
Both sides were missing several key players, but it was Town who adapted best with a convincing victory.
Sion Bradley (pen), plus late goals from Darren Thomas and Cai Jones, clinched the spoils.
Keeper Josh Tibbetts, who saved a spot-kick, was outstanding for the visitors.

Caernarfon Town 2 Barry Town United 0 (December 12, 2020)
Three days after a 6-0 hammering at Penybont, Caernarfon bounced back with a 2-1 win at Cefn Druids and followed up with a best performance of the season to date by outscoring high-flyers Barry 2-0 at The Oval.
The goals came late for the Canaries, Jack Kenny’s first for the club and substitute Sam Jones finding the net against the 10-man visitors.

Jack Kenny was a great addition up front

The New Saints 0 Caernarfon Town 0 (April 27, 2021)
Huw Griffiths took a depleted squad to Park Hall on a Tuesday evening and despite ending the match with nine men, the Cofis still returned home with a point against the full-time professionals.
It was an heroic defensive effort from the visitors, who produced a result which had a big say in denying TNS the league title.

Caernarfon Town 3 Bala Town 0 (May 4, 2021)
A best performance of the campaign up to then from Caernarfon saw them cast aside the challenge of Euro qualifiers Bala.
Max Cleworth struck twice for the hosts in the first half, while Sion Bradley added another goal from a free kick after the interval.

Barry Town United 1 Caernarfon Town 3 (May 22, 2021)
The Canaries saved the best till next to last as they concocted a fantastic display at Jenner Park to reach the Euro Play-Off final for the first time.
Having lost 3-2 at Barry in the league seven days earlier, the odds were against the Cofis, yet they rose magnificently to the occasion.
After bossing the action, the visitors took a 40th minute lead through Mike Hayes.
It was against the run of play when Barry levelled before half time, an Evan Press header going in off Caernarfon captain Gareth Edwards.
There was no let up from the Canaries after the break, Hayes producing a sublime finish to make it 2-1 early on before Jacob Bickerstaff sealed it in injury time.

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