WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE – Cardiff Met will be competing in the Europa League Play-Off final for a third successive year after they eliminated Caernarfon Town last night at a sun-soaked evening at The Oval.
Adam Roscrow’s charging run and finish put Cardiff Met in front in the second half, before Kyle McCarthy advanced through on goal and put the Archers in the driving seat with a precise angled finish past Wales C goalkeeper Alex Ramsey.
“We knew exactly what Caernarfon were going to be like,” said McCarthy, speaking to Sgorio post-match. “A very direct style of play. They do it fantastically well and obviously it’s benefited them over the course of the season but for us to get to the play-off final again is another amazing achievement, so hopefully we can more step.”
Indeed, Cardiff Met will be hoping that it is a case of third time lucky in their attempts to reach the qualifying rounds of the Uefa Europa League this summer.
Promoted into the top-flight in 2016, Christian Edwards’ side have navigated their way into the play-off final in their last two seasons only to have been defeated on the day on both occasions.
Bangor City brought Cardiff Met’s debut Welsh Premier League campaign to a heartbreaking end, running out 1-0 winners at Nanthport. They then suffered the same fate a year ago, when Cefn Druids defeated them by the same scoreline at The Rock.
Cardiff Met will be the visiting team once again as Christian Edwards attempts to end his team’s play-off hoodoo, with a visit to Maes Tegid to face perennial European qualifiers Bala Town this time around.
“I’ve got a special association with Bala, back in Division Three, we played them in the Welsh Cup and beat them, and ever since that day I have a really strong connection with them,” Edwards told Sgorio.
“I spoke to Colin [Caton] in the week and we both said let’s make the final for ourselves. I have always wanted to rewind the past two cup finals, so hopefully this year we have the opportunity to look at them again and learn from those experiences. I said in the dressing room tonight, while the top six is all about intensity, our momentum is key.”
That intensity was clear to see on Caernarfon’s part when a frantic start saw Will Fuller make a desperate save to deny the top-six hosts of an early lead in the opening 30 seconds.
The deadlock was broken on 19-minutes when livewire Caernarfon flyer Darren Thomas showed that he also has considerable aerial ability – in addition to his trademark mazy dribbling – in his repertoire of attacking treats, as he rose above the Met defence launching an inch-perfect header that looped down over a hapless Fuller.
Cardiff Met’s found themselves back on level terms late in the half, when Chris Baker pulled the trigger on a loose ball that ricocheted it’s way into the net.
Amidst speculation that he could be the next export to make it into the Football League this summer, Adam Roscrow single-handedly put Cardiff Met ahead, demonstrating the strength, pace and composure that we are now all too familiar with.
Now 24-years-old, Roscrow looks to be in his prime after overcoming injuries and returning to full fitness this season, in what has been his best season yet. With his performances in the ascendancy, Ruscoe is a game away from being able to showcase his talent on the European stage where he can add to his growing stock. With rumoured interest from clubs in both England and Scotland, if his big chance is to come, you suspect it will materialise in the next few months.
Kyle McCarthy’s third for Cardiff Met inside the final 10-minutes appeared to wrap things up but there was still time for controversy when Lee Evans incorrectly awarded a Caernarfon penalty. Nathan Craig duly converted and subsequent spell of last-ditch pressure ensued which amounted to nothing more than a late consolation for the hosts.
“Obviously there was late drama with the penalty but I’m very, very please with the way the boys adapted tonight,” added Christian Edwards.
“I’m never usually calm before a game but all week I’ve had a feeling that we would do something. Caernarfon have been phenomenal all season, they’ve come up into the league exactly like we did a few years ago and have caught everyone by surprise and have been fantastic.”
Caernarfon Town 2 Darren Thomas 19′ Nathan Craig 90’+1(p)
Cardiff Met 3 Chris Baker 36′ Adam Roscrow 68′ Kyle McCarthy 82′
1. Alex Ramsay, 2. Joe Williams, 3. Nathan Craig, 5. Gareth Edwards, 7. Gareth Evans (19. Sion Bradley 76′), 10. Darren Thomas, 11. Danny Brookwell, 14. Noah Edwards, 17. Ryan Williams, 20. Cai Jones (9. Jamie Breese 66′), 25. Leo Smith.
Subs not used: 6. Rhys Roberts, 8. Jamie Crowther, 13. Osian Goulding (gk), 16. Kevin Roberts, 18. Dion Owen
Red Cards: None
Yellow Cards: Craig 90’+3
1. Will Fuller, 2. Dylan Rees, 3. Kyle McCarthy, 4. Bradley Woolridge, 5. Emlyn Lewis, 7. Eliot Evans (12. Dan Spencer 87′), 8. Chris Baker, 9. Adam Roscrow, 11. Will Evans, 16. Guto Williams (14. Joel Edwards 60′), 18. Rhydian Morgan.
Subs not used: 15. Ioan Evans, 22. Liam Black, 23. Tim Parker, 25. Alex Lang (gk), 33. Brad
Red Cards: None
Yellow Cards: McCarthy 45’+5 Lewis 55′ Baker 85′
Attendance: 1280 Referee: Lee Evans