JD Cymru Premier: Play-off semi-finals preview

The JD Cymru Premier play-offs begin this weekend, as four teams compete to take the league’s final spot in next season’s UEFA Conference League first qualifying round. 

The winners of the two semi-finals will meet in the play-off final at the ground of the highest-ranked team on Saturday 18 May. 

Caernarfon Town v Cardiff Met (Friday 10 May, 7:45pm)

Caernarfon Town are aiming to qualify for Europe for the first time, but have won the play-offs on one previous occasion in 2022 to book a spot in the SPFL Trust Trophy. 

After only narrowly avoiding relegation last season, it has been a much-improved campaign for Caernarfon this year as they secured a fifth-place finish. 

Strike pairing Adam Davies and Zack Clarke netted 25 league goals between them, while Sion Bradley – the matchwinner for Cymru C against England C in March – and Louis Lloyd provide plenty of threat in attack too. 

However, Richard Davies’ side do not come into the play-offs in the greatest form as they picked up just one point from their final four matches of the regular season. 

Fortunately for the Cofis, the only side in worse form are opponents Cardiff Met – who have won just one of their 14 league matches since December. 

However, that solitary victory did come at the Oval in March as early goals from CJ Craven and Sam Jones helped them to triumph 2-1. 

Before that, Caernarfon were unbeaten in their previous 10 matches against the Archers, winning eight of those. 

Cardiff Met will be hoping for déjà vu from their last play-off triumph in 2019, when they won away at Caernarfon in the semi-finals before beating Bala Town on penalties in the final to book their spot in Europe. 

The Students have not returned to continental competition since then and lost a semi-final shootout to Haverfordwest County in last season’s play-offs. 

It was Eliot Evans’ penalty that famously sent Met to Europe five years ago and the experienced midfielder may be his side’s best chance of qualifying again this time around as he finished the regular season as the team’s top scorer with nine goals. 

Caernarfon Town v Cardiff Met will be available to watch live on Sgorio’s online platforms and your smart TV.

Newtown v Penybont (Saturday 11 May, 12:20pm)

No club has won the play-offs more in JD Cymru Premier history than Newtown, who booked their spot in Europe via this route in 2015 and 2021. 

The Robins have had five previous European campaigns in total, famously winning ties against Valletta in 2015 and HB Tórshavn in 2022. 

The Powys side were beaten on penalties by Haverfordwest County in last season’s play-off final but they are back again following a fourth-place finish in the league. 

Scott Ruscoe replaced Chris Hughes as manager in January and after a tricky start to his tenure, Newtown finished the season on a four-match unbeaten run to clinch fourth place. 

Aaron Williams’ return to fitness and the starting lineup has been timely, with the forward scoring three times in the final two games of the season to end a three-month goal drought and finish the campaign on a tally of 19 – only Brad Young and Jordan Davies scored more across the league. 

Penybont clinched their spot in the play-offs on the final day of the season as they triumphed 1-0 over Haverfordwest County to leapfrog the Bluebirds into seventh place. 

Bont competed in Europe for the first time in their history last year – losing to Andorran side FC Santa Coloma over two legs – but they have been beaten in their only two previous appearances in the play-off semi-finals, including against Newtown in 2021. 

Three of the last four seventh-place teams have gone on to win the play-offs and Rhys Griffiths’ side will hope to continue that trend as they finished the season with five wins from their last six games, keeping a clean sheet in all of those matches. 

Chris Venables will undoubtedly be the man to watch in Bont’s side, as the 38-year-old striker has five goals in his last three appearances. He has also scored more goals against Newtown (24) than any other club in his career. 

That includes three against them this season, as Penybont won 3-1 away and drew 1-1 at home to extend their unbeaten run against Newtown to six matches. 

Newtown v Penybont will be available to watch live on S4C and Sgorio’s online platforms. 

Who will qualify for Europe?

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