Iain Darbyshire aiming to create ‘lifelong memory’ with Cardiff City treble

When the stakes of a game are so high, it’s almost impossible to ignore the outside noise.

However, that’s what Cardiff City manager Iain Darbyshire is keen to do ahead of Sunday’s Bute Energy Welsh Cup final. City are one win away from completing a historic treble, but the manager is keen to stress that Sunday is just like any other fixture.

“Ultimately, Sunday is just another game for us. It’s a cup final, we’ve been here the last two years and been successful, and that’s the way we’ll look at it this year. I don’t think we can get caught up in the treble talk, but we know talk about it from the outside will be inevitable. For us, it’s about focusing on what we’ve done well in previous games against Wrexham and focus on where we can cause them problems.”

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Bute Energy Welsh Cup final

So many players in blue have performed well this season, but perhaps one area of the pitch that often goes underappreciated is the middle of the park. The job that City’s two midfielders have done has been remarkable, and that has been backed up by the club’s end of season awards.

Seren Watkins was named Player of the Season and has added goals and assists to her game. Darbyshire believes a Welsh call-up isn’t too far away for the tenacious midfielder.

“Seren has been fantastic for us this season. The midfield is a part of the pitch that does feel a bit underrated. The fact we leave just two players in the midfield speaks volumes about the quality we have, but it isn’t just Seren and Emma [Beynon], it’s Kelly [Adams] and Kerry [Walklett], we’ve got good midfielders. 

“But with Seren, you know what you’re going to get every single week. In and out of possession, she’s level above a lot of players in this league, and I feel she’s someone who should be pushing towards the Welsh squads, and I hope that is something that will happen over the next few months.”

Playing alongside Watkins for the majority of the season has been Emma Beynon, who won the Players’ Player of the Year award. Darbyshire couldn’t believe the club signed the midfielder in the summer but has been delighted with what she’s brought to the side.

“Emma is massively important to our system. The reason Seren has been able to add goals and assists to her game this season has been because we’ve been able to add players like Emma next to her, so that she can go out and express herself. 

“Emma has been a breath of fresh air, she’s added experience which I think we needed, and we couldn’t believe we were able to sign her when the offer presented itself to us! But she’s developed a lot this year as well, and you can see just how good a player she is and how much she’s enjoying her football, and that’s credit to her.”

Cardiff will need their midfielders, along with every other department on Sunday, as they take on Wrexham at Rodney Parade. Having won all five of the games between the two, outsiders may put City as heavy favourites.

But Darbyshire certainly won’t be underestimating Wrexham and believes his team have learned a lot from last season’s Genero Adran Trophy final defeat when they suffered a surprise defeat to Cardiff Met.

“Every game we’ve played against Wrexham has sort of followed a similar script. The first half is tight, and they have good moments where they’ve caused us problems, then in the second half we seem to find a way to win, and physically we’re able to take over in games. 

“We’re hoping for that again on Sunday, but they do cause us problems. Although some of the score lines have been quite big recently, there’s moments in all those games where it could have gone the other way. We both know each other quite well having played five times, and on Sunday, whoever turns up and performs will win the game.

“I always refer back to last season’s Adran Trophy final. It was a similar moment where it was a game we were expected to win comfortably, and we lost. That really helped us to develop as a squad, and we’ve got a lot of players here who have learned from that. 

“Yes, we’ve scored a lot and not conceded many against them this season, but Wrexham have had really good moments against us and they’re getting better every time we play them. We know if we perform at our maximum, we have a really good chance of winning. We will guard against complacency and make sure the players are focused and aware.”

Treble winners have gone down in history and are talked about forever. From Barcelona to Manchester United, those stories live on from generation to generation. Cardiff City are hoping to add their name to that list, and Darbyshire is hoping to create a memory that will last a lifetime.

“We set our targets at the start of the season to win all three trophies, but we knew it was going to be difficult to do that. You want to win everything, and to do that for this club would be amazing. You see the excitement around every level of the club at the moment. Everyone is really looking forward to Sunday’s game and coming to Newport. The fans are looking forward to it, and Sunday is for them just as much as it is for us. Winning the treble would be a lifelong memory, and something you can cherish for the rest of your life.”

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