Cardiff Metropolitan University midfielder Eliot Evans says that victory in the Nathaniel MG Cup final could be the clubs biggest achievement.
The Archers are preparing for the League Cup final for the first time in their history. They come up against reigning holders The New Saints, who ironically won the competition last season at Cardiff Metropolitan’s home of Cyncoed Campus.
Over the last few years, a large core of the side has been through the divisions and have claimed the titles from Division Three of the Welsh League to Division One. They very nearly won the Europa League play-offs with Bangor too, narrowly missing out on just one goal.
“It would be a good achievement of course. You always judge a football career on trophies and whilst we’ve all got a few medals at senior level between us and have achieved a lot as a group going through the leagues, it would probably be the biggest trophy we have won up until now.”
The League Cup is the first piece of silverware on offer to any side in Welsh football. It also has kept Met on their toes in training, rather than a break due to the end of the Phase One in the Welsh Premier League.
“It’s obviously pleasing to reach a final so early in the season. It’ll be nice to turn our attention to a big game away from the league for a week.” said Evans.
“Of course league form is the most important thing for us but it’ll be something we can look back on in years to come and be proud of if we get the result we want.”
Evans scored the only goal in the south regional semi-final as he scored a rare header in the dying moments of the game. But time has passed since then and now he’s looking to the future, rather than the past.
“It was nice to get the winner in the semi-final. It was a really tough game and I was just glad that we got through it to be honest. The focus for us is always on the next match so again it’ll probably be something I look back on and be pleased about in future years but I don’t dwell on it now.”
Standing in their way of their first ever Nathaniel MG Cup trophy, are The New Saints. The Oswestry based side have won the trophy a record eight times and haven’t tasted defeat at Park Avenue.
Earlier on in the season, the Met held The New Saints to a 0-0 draw, in which they had chances to win the game, as well as suffering a few scares of their own.
“The first game earlier on in the season I feel we were maybe a bit unlucky to not nick the three points. We had a couple of chances that we should’ve done better with and their keeper has made an unbelievable save in the last minute to save a point for them.”
The return fixture though was a narrow 2-1 defeat at Park Hall. The New Saints haven’t lost to the Archers in their current guise and the drawback in September is the only time that Met have taken a point off of them.
With this being the fifth meeting between the two sides in eighteen months, both sides will know of one and another of their strengths.
“We know they are an excellent side with very good players who know the system they play so well but we have a lot of belief that we can win the game. We are a very good team ourselves, so there’s absolutely no reason we can’t go and beat TNS on Saturday.
A big boost for the Archers, is the return of some key players who look set to return back to injury. Centre-backs Bradley Woolridge and Emlyn Lewis had missed out in recent games, but could make an appearance in the final.
“The mood within the group is as always upbeat and positive. We’ve got players coming back from injury so there’s competition for places, we’ll work hard again on Thursday and prepare right ahead of Saturday.”
The Met are hoping to be backed by a strong contingent of supporters on Saturday. The club have organised transport to the game and Evans is thankful of the support of the many supporters make the trip to Mid Wales on late Saturday afternoon.
“Hopefully, there will be a big crowd travelling from Cardiff, we are always grateful to the people that travel up and down Wales to follow us whether that’s friends, family, parents and academy players or other supporters.
Hopefully, we can repay their commitment with a performance and some silverware on the weekend!”
(Featured Image: Will Cheshire)