Cofis Qualify for Europe

Caernarfon Town player celebrating in front of the supporters after winning the match.

Caernarfon 3 – 1 Penybont

Caernarfon have been closer than most to European qualification in recent years and, had it not been for Wales’ co-efficient woes, they would have experienced their maiden voyage abroad after winning the Play-off final two years ago. It was not to be, however, and on Saturday they tried again, this time knowing that victory in the final over Penybont would see them achieve their dreams. The visitors arrived at the Carling Oval in stunning form, having defeated Newtown 5-0 in their semi-final to stretch their unbeaten run to seven matches, and just as impressively, they had done so without conceding a solitary goal. In the run up to the big match, Penybont manager Rhys Griffiths had stated that he was looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd and that it would stir his team on.

The capacity crowd of 1960 should therefore not have been a problem for his side and indeed they started well enough. Penybont began stroking the ball around from the off and seemed to settle faster than the Cofis. However, once Caernarfon began winning a few tackles in and around the middle of the park they soon began playing to their strengths. Richard Davies’ side has been knows as The Entertainers this season due to their attacking style and Zack Clarke’s effort on twenty minutes was a hint at wat was about to come, as he won a tackle at the edge of the area before shooting powerfully, but directly, at keeper Adam Przybek. Town’s Josh Tibbetts was called into action three minutes later after Lewis Harling found himself free inside the box, but Town’s number one was quick off his line and deflected the ball for a corner off his legs. Caernarfon soon took control of the match, and they seemed faster to the ball, and certainly more coherent upfield where Clarke, Lloyd and Bradley formed a pacey three pronged attack. Town went close to going ahead in the sixteenth minute when they broke from defence and an excellent move between Darren Thomas and Louis Lloyd ended with the latter’s cross across the area to Danny Gosset, who’s low effort was saved smartly by Przybek. With twenty minutes on the clock, the Oval erupted as Darren Thomas put Lloyd through and the winger did the rest, lifting the ball over Przybek into an empty net for his tenth goal of the season. The Cofis were on top and they doubled their lead just four minutes later when Lloyd chased a speculative punt by Iwan Cartwright and nipped in behind Borge, who unceremoniously brought him down. Clarke stepped up and rocketed the ball into the corner of the net from the spot. Veteran striker Chris Venables, who has provided plenty of heartaches to the Cofis in the past, thought he had got a goal back for Penybont just after the half hour mark as he met Owen’s cross at the far post but whilst his header beat Tibbetts, Danny Gosset was on hand to clear the ball off his line. One of the best players in the Cymru Premier League this season has been Sion Bradley and he showed why in the thirty sixth minute as he robbed Mark Little near the half way line before showing Borge a clean pair of heels as he sped into the penalty area and slid the ball past the advancing Przybek. As Bardley approached the Cofi Army in the Rondo Stand to celebrate with his team mates, there was a feeling that Caernarfon had broken the will of the visitors, who looked crestfallen at their predicament. Lloyd nearly added a fourth soon later whilst at the other end Venables saw his low effort from close range saved by Tibbetts.

The visitors began the second period with a bit more urgency in their play and both Owen and Kircough went close to pulling a goal back for them within seven minutes of the restart. With their three goal cushion, Caernarfon seemed comfortable enough to let Penybont see plenty of the ball, but nullified their attacking prospects courtesy of a robust defence that was first to most balls in and around their penalty area. Cartwright should have added a fourth for Town just after the hour mark but he hit his effort over the target from sixteen yards. Venables hit the woodwork with a header at the far post late on but the Cofis looked just as likely to score as the visitors as the match entered its closing stages, Clarke and Lloyd threatening to do just that. Reynolds scored a consolation goal in the last minute of normal time but it was too little too late for Rhys Griffiths’ side as Caernarfon duly completed the job…and the Cofi Army joined them on the pitch for the lifting of the Play off Trophy.

And this time, the players, management team, and supporters knew that a trip to Europe was finally theirs. A momentous day for a historic club that seems to be becoming, ever so slowly but steadily, a serious outfit in the Cymru Premier League.

Tyn Lon Volvo Man of the Match: Morgan Owen.

Team; Josh Tibbetts, Morgan Owen, Iwan Cartwright, Gruff John, Dion Donohue, Dion Gossett, Marc Williams, Sion Bradley, Louis Lloyd, Darren Thomas, Zack Clarke.

Subs(used): Adam Davies, Phil Mooney, Ben Maher, Osian Evans.

Not used: Harri Thomas, Joe Faux, Cai Griffith.

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