First Team
JD Cymru Premier European Play-Offs Final Sat 13 May Latham Park
  • Williams (38')
1 (3)
Haverfordwest County
  • Own Goal (24')
1 (4)
1-1 (3-4 pens)

Saturday’s European play-off final will see Haverfordwest County and Newtown face off for the third and final time this season.

The Bluebirds and the Robins have had similar seasons in the JD Cymru Premier, and will do battle at Latham Park tommorrow to decide who clinches the fourth and final European spot for next season.

We’ve taken a closer look at tomorrow’s opponents to provide an in-depth overview ahead of the game.

The manager

BALA, WALES – 5 MAY 2023 – Chris Hughes at the JD Cymru Premier Play Off Semi Final fixture between Bala Town and Newtown at Maes Tegid Stadium, Bala (Pic by Nik Mesney/FAW)

Newtown are managed by Chris Hughes, who is the second-longest serving manager in the league after Colin Caton at Bala Town.

He took over at Latham Park back in November 2013, and has overseen a successful period for the Powys side, which has included numerous top half finishes in the Welsh top-flight, a Welsh Cup runners-up place in 2014-15, and a few forays into European competiton.

The players

BALA, WALES – 5 MAY 2023 – Craig Williams at the JD Cymru Premier Play Off Semi Final fixture between Bala Town and Newtown at Maes Tegid Stadium, Bala (Pic by Nik Mesney/FAW)

The Robins have plenty of top-flight experience in their squad, with the likes of captain, Craig Williams, Nick Rushton, Shane Sutton and Kieran Mills-Evans having been part of the setup for many years.

In recent seasons, they have added the likes of Louis Robles from The New Saints, Aaron Williams from AFC Telford United, and Zeli Ismail, who has Football League experience under his belt.

Dave Jones is a regular between the sticks, while Ryan Sears, George Hughes and Henry Cowans are also important players.

The stadium

NEWTOWN, WALES – 04 DECEMBER 2021: JD Cymru Premier league fixture between Newtown AFC & Barry Town United FC, Newtown, Wales, 4th of December. (Pic By John Smith/FAW)

Newtown play their home games at Latham Park, which is named after former Wales international George Latham, who was born in the town, and represented his country on 10 occasions between 1905 and 1913.

In 2014, the club installed a new 3G surface, becoming just the second top-flight club at the time – after The New Saints – to have an artificial playing surface.

The ground has hosted four JD Welsh Cup finals in its history, as well as numerous under-21 internationals, women’s internationals and European matches for various other top-flight teams.

European history

OSWESTRY, ENGLAND 28 July 2022: UEFA Europa Conference League Second qualifying round fixture between Newtown AFC and FC Spartak Trnava, Park Hall, Oswestry, England, 28 July. (Pic By Will Cheshire/FAW)

As alluded to above, the Robins have become accustomed to competing in European competition in recent times. Following their first two entries in 1996-97 and 1998-99, they have sinced had campaigns on three further occasions. Firsty, in 2015-16, they defeated Maltese outfit Valetta 4-2 on aggregate in the first qualifying round of the Europa League, before being eliminated by Danish giants Copenhagen 5-1 in the next round.

In 2021-22, they fell at the first hurdle of the Europa Conference League when they were beaten 5-0 over two legs by Irish side Dundalk. And most recently, last summer, they dramatically defeated HB Tórshavn from the Faroe Islands on penalties, after the tie had ended 2-2 on aggregate. The second qualifying round saw them take on Spartak Trnava from Slovakia, where they were beaten 6-2.

This season

BALA, WALES – 5 MAY 2023 – Aaron Williams makes it 3-1 to Newown at the JD Cymru Premier Play Off Semi Final fixture between Bala Town and Newtown at Bala’s Maes Tegid Stadium (Pic by Nik Mesney/FAW)

Similarly to the Bluebirds, Newtown have struggled to find consistency this season, however an impressive run towards the end of Phase One helped them to secure a top six finish, guaranteeing their place in the play-offs at a minimum.

The first meeting between the sides this season saw County edged out 3-2 at the Ogi Bridge Meadow in a bizarre game which swung one way and then another. A man-of-the-match display by Dave Jones helped the Robins to secure the victory, despite the Town crafting out numerous opportunities.

Then, in December, the Bluebirds were defeated 2-0 in a closely fought encounter, with a late goal from Rhys Hesden making the game safe for Chris Hughes’ side.

The Robins’ form in Phase Two was mixed, as they won two, drew two and lost six of their 10 matches after the split, ensuring they would finish in sixth place at the bottom of the Championship Conference.

In terms of goal scoring, forward Aaron Williams has led the way this season, netting 16 goals in total. Louis Robles has also conntributed 10 times.