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Haverfordwest County Start Dreaming Of Possible European Adventure

By Gareth James

Haverfordwest County fans can start thinking of some decent possible trips overseas after the club clinched Europa League play-off qualification.

The Bluebirds have done it the hard way, via the JD Cymru Play-Off Conference table which they top from Pontypridd United.

They have guaranteed themselves seventh place, meaning they will play-off for a place in the Europa League aginst the clubs that finished between third and sixth in the Championship Conference.

Leaders Haverfordwest hung on to claim a 1-1 draw at home against Aberystwyth Town at the weekend despite having to play the final 17 minutes with only 10 men after Kyle Patten received a straight red card.

Jack Leahy scored the crucial goal after Aber had gone in front and the point was enough to ensure they will finish top of the table.

That was enough to earn them a place in the play-offs for the final Europa League qualification spot, although the FAW have yet to confirm the club’s Tier 1 licence for next season which could cause some problems.

Manager Tony Pennock paid tribute to his players and said: “To achieve seventh place with two games to go is a massive credit to the lads and to everyone at the football club.

“Until we beat Flint away from home two weeks ago, we might have been battling to stay in this division. But our consistency has put us in the position we are in now.”

The result pushed Aberystwyth down into the second relegation position and leaves them needing to beat Caernarfon Town in their final game to try to escape the drop.

Flint Town United gave their chances of beating relegation received a considerable boost with a 3-1 win at Airbus UK Broughton.

After taking a fourth minute lead through skipper Dan Harrison, the Silkmen saw Adam Davies whip in a shot from just outside the area that struck the post, but bounced out kindly for Beau Cornish to level matters a minute into the second half.

That raised the nervous tension in the visiting ranks, both on and off the pitch, before two goals in as many minutes put Flint back in front and well in control.

Okera Simmonds got the first and then Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro grabbed the second.

Flint now have two games left, one of which will be the re-scheduled clash with Caernarfon Town that was abandoned last week.

While the FAW continue to investigate the shocking scenes at that game, a new date for the fixture to be replayed has been fixed.

The teams will play behind closed doors at the Essity Stadium on Wednesday, 19 April with the clock re-set to zero and the 2-0 scoreline wiped out.

The Silkmen had raced into a commanding lead in the 16 minutes that were played before the referee took the players off the pitch as violence erupted in the stands.

That led to one fan being taken to hospital with serious injuries and three people later being arrested.

The New Saints sent a shot across the bows of Bala Town two weeks before they clash in the JD Welsh Cup final in Bangor on 30 April as they beat them 2-0 in their penultimate game in the JD Cymru Championship Conference.

To their credit, the Lakesiders put up a strong fight on home soil and frustrated the league champions throughout a goalless first half. Then two goals in three minutes completely changed the game.

TNS had enjoyed a string of chances in the first half, without finding the correct finish, but 11 minutes after the break the deadlock was finally broken.

Hot shot Declan McManus got his foot to the ball in the penalty area and steered it past Lloyd in the home goal.

That was the Scotsman’s 30th goal of the domestic season and kept him way out ahead of every other goalscorer in the top tier of Welsh football.

Two minutes later, Ryan Brobbel converted another close-range effort to double the lead.

Connah’s Quay Nomads and Penybont played out a goalless draw at the Deeside Stadium to confirm the Nomads will finish as runners-up to The New Saints and take the second automatic European place next season.

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