The regular season has come to an end, and the top three of The New Saints, Connah’s Quay and Pen-y-bont have all qualified for Europe.

There’s still one ticket up for grabs for the play-off winners, and the four clubs who finished between the 4th and 7th positions will compete in the semi-finals this weekend.

Bala Town (5th) v Newtown (6th) | Friday – 19:45 (S4C online)

‘Momentum’ is the magic word that repeatedly pops up before the play-offs, and unfortunately for Bala Town, momentum is something that they’re severely lacking.

Following their worst ever run in the league of 12 games without a win, the Lakesiders lost 6-0 against The New Saints last Sunday which was the heaviest defeat in a Welsh Cup final since 1931.

But now it all boils down to two games – two victories and Bala Town will be in Europe for the ninth time since 2013.

Newtown could not have picked a more ideal opponent for their semi-final, as Bala Town are the only team they’ve beaten since the turn of the year.

In their 13 fixtures so far in 2013, Newtown have lost eight, drawn three, and won twice against Bala Town.

But Colin Caton’s crew have magical memories of the play-offs as they finished 7th in 2012/13 before seeing off Connah’s Quay, Bangor City and Port Talbot to qualify for Europe for the first time in the club’s history.

Newtown have won the play-offs twice – the first occasion in 2014/15 as they qualified for the third time in their history, and for the first time since 1998.

Then after a six year gap the Robins returned to Europe via the play-offs in 2020/21, beating Caernarfon Town in a thrilling final (Cfon 3-5 New), before finishing 3rd last season to reach Europe for the fifth occasion.

Therefore, Bala Town are aiming for a fourth consecutive qualification whilst Newtown aim for three on the bounce, but whoever loses Friday’s match will certainly need to survive next season on a much tighter budget.

League form:

Bala Town: ❌❌❌❌➖

Newtown: ❌❌✅❌❌

Cardiff Met (4th) v Haverfordwest County (7th) | Saturday – 17:15 (S4C)

Whilst the experienced old heads of Bala Town and Newtown would have expected a European spot at the start of the campaign, not many would have predicted that Cardiff Met and Haverfordwest County would be in the draw in Geneva.

Cardiff Met finished 7th last season, and after the departure of long-term manager Dr Christian Edwards over the summer there were doubts that the Archers could still compete amongst the elite in Wales.

But under newly appointed boss Ryan Jenkins, and with Edwards returning to his post after the split, Cardiff Met have secured their highest ever finish (4th), and on paper they will be favourites to win the play-offs to reach Europe for the first time in three years.

Haverfordwest County ended last season just one place above the relegation zone, but the club have been busy improving on and off the pitch and the results are clear to see as the Bluebirds have finished 7th, which is their highest position since 2008/09, and will compete in the play-offs for the first time ever.

The Pembrokeshire bunch have only qualified for Europe once in the past, as they lost 4-1 on aggregate to Icelandic side Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar after finishing 3rd in 2003/04.

Tony Pennock’s team will take confidence from the fact that the 7th placed finishers have won three out of the 11 previous play-off competitions – and it’s their three challengers this year who were triumphant on those occasions (Bala Town 12/13, Cardiff Met 18/19, Newtown 20/21).

If ‘momentum’ is the key, then Haverfordwest County certainly have it on their side as they’re unbeaten in their last seven outings (won five, drawn two).

But history backs the Archers as Cardiff Met have won four of their previous five meetings with the Bluebirds.

League form:

Cardiff Met: ✅✅❌❌❌
Haverfordwest County: ✅➖✅✅➖

All goals can be viewed on Sgorio’s online accounts, and the weekend’s highlights will be on Sgorio on Monday night at 10:15 on S4C.

The winners of both semi-finals will meet in the play-off final next Saturday and the victors will secure the fourth and final place in Europe this year.

Rhys Llwyd

Author Rhys Llwyd

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