Carmarthen Town get ready for crunch play-off match on Sunday
Carmarthen Town manager Mark Aizelwood will pick from a depleted squad but is confident his young side stand every chance of making further progress in the EUROPA league play-offs grand finale to the Dafabet Welsh Premier League season.
Town make the long journey north to Gap Connah’s Quay for a 3.30pm kick-off on Sunday (May 8). The Town game plan will be ‘no fears’.
Aizlewood said: “Make no bones about it, for Carmarthen Town to finish in the play-off spot of seventh in the two-tier league is more difficult than TNS (The New Saints) winning the league, in my opinion.
“There is no point in us moaning about the fact that we don’t have the money other, bigger, clubs, in the Welsh Premier League have.
“Other clubs have bigger resources in terms of money and playing squads, but we just get on with it.
“I am absolutely delighted with what Carmarthen Town’s players have achieved this season.
“As a football coach, you can often go to the statistics and make them read something specific just to prove a point.
“But, I think, if you look at Carmarthen Town’s season very closely, you will see that the statistics in our season don’t lie.
“We finished two places higher than last year.
“We won more games.
“We lost fewer games.
“We scored more goals.
“And, all this, from a team with an average age of 23. So, in all those respects, I am absolutely delighted with what we have achieved so far.
“Going into the play-offs, we have to be the fourth favourites, or the rank outsiders, in everyone’s eyes. Airbus, Newtown and Gap Connah’s Quay finished ahead of us in the league and we are fully aware of the challenge.
“But, we have beaten Airbus, Newtown and Gap Connah’s Quay previously.
“So, I am going into the game with no fears. And I am sure my players will take the same no fear approach.
“In fact, we have absolutely nothing to lose. If we get a couple of good hidings, people will say ‘fair enough’ when they consider where we finished in the league.
“I think our finish place is a fair reflection of where we are as a team at the moment. The reality is we a slightly too good for the bottom half of the table but not yet equipped to get results week in and week out in the top six tier of the league.”
Aizlewood admitted he will have to pick from a depleted squad.
“We have got Craig Hanford (suspended), Luke Prosser (suspended), Luke Cummings (injured), Kyle Bassett (injured) and Keiron Lewis (injured) all out, so it feels as if we are down to the bare bones.
“But there’s a great feeling in the squad and I know the guys will rally around on Sunday.
“As far as the opposition is concerned, I know exactly how Connah’s Quay play. They make the best of what they have got. They have got a lot of very tall, physical players with great experience.
“We have to find a way and a means of overcoming what they do and we will be working very hard in training this week to come up with a plan to beat them.”
Aizlewood added: “I am delighted that we have made it this far this season. The players have been a credit to the club and much of what goes on in Carmarthen Town is down to the people who run the club and the supporters. All those fans deserve the very best and we hope to do our level best to bring them success on the pitch."
The last time Carmarthen Town featured in Europe saw in the UEFA Cup during the 2007/08 campaign where they faced SK Brann (NOR) losing the round 14-3 on aggregate having lost the first leg 8-0 at Richmond Park. Between 2001 and 2008 the Old Gold qualified for the UEFA Cup on four occasions which included a memorable 5-3 aggregate win over Longford (IRL).
Earlier in the season they met in South Wales with Carmarthen Town winning 1-0 following Lewis Harling's first half strike. gap Connah's Quay got their revenge in the second Phase One fixture at Deeside winning 4-0 courtesy of a Nick Rushton hat-trick and Ashley Ruane strike.
There will be spaces for supporters on the bus to Connah’s Quay. Bus leaving Priory Street 9am on Sunday. £10. Text (no calls, just text) 07989 448629 to book a place.