We caught up with one of Met’s stalwarts, Eliot Evans, this week after the Archers secured seventh spot last weekend and an away trip to either Caernarfon or Newtown in the European Playoff semi-finals.
Read on to find out more about what the 27-year-old had to say.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Cardiff Met yet this year, no, I’d have to completely agree with that. I think in that five-game spell after Christmas where everyone but Will Fuller was fit, we got back there to what we’re capable of, just in time for the Nathaniel MG Cup Final, but we couldn’t quite nick a top six spot.
“Other than that, the injuries have mounted up throughout the season in various positions and it has been hard for us to find top gear like other teams who haven’t had the same misfortune have been able to do.
“We’ve been a little bit inconsistent, even in Phase Two, because of these injuries and other factors, but we’re just happy to have got seventh and got something right, so we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”
No strangers to the post-season antics of the European playoffs, having secured qualification for the third successive year to this stage, Cardiff Met have done very well in these situations before but are yet to make the final decisive step into European competition.
Could it be third time lucky for Dr Christian Edwards’ side? Perhaps indeed, but they need to secure two big wins to get there, and Evans spoke specifically about that challenge as well as elaborating on how securing wins when performances haven’t been the best is perhaps a skill he and his teammates have improved on this year.
“We’re in the playoffs, but now is time to deliver and get the job done. I think there is pressure on all of the teams in there, really. Caernarfon could have a home tie which is a bonus, but also a pressure, whereas Newtown and Bala will be under pressure as well to finish off the good seasons they’ve had by securing Europe.
“We’ve made the final of the last two playoffs and probably haven’t done ourselves justice in either of those games, so there is pressure on us too, and our squad isn’t getting any younger so it’s probably about time that we made that next step and secured Europe.
“We know how to win at this level, so it’s just about going and delivering when the pressure is on.
“We may not have performed at our best this season at times, but that doesn’t matter so much if we get the results and get the job done. Of course, ideal scenario we want to win every game comfortably, but it’s just about getting over the line.
“I think we’ve learned how to win when we’re not playing well this year, and we’ve learnt from previous years in terms of seeing results out.
“It hasn’t always been pretty this year, and it hasn’t always been as free-flowing as we’d have liked – we always want to entertain, of course we do, but sometimes it is just about getting over the line, and that’s what we’ve been doing in recent weeks, getting the job done, and something we need to carry into the playoffs.”
Mooted as one of the most evenly-matched quartets to take part in the playoffs for some time, Met, Caernarfon Town, Newtown and Bala Town will all fancy their chances of winning the upcoming playoffs.
For Evans, he labelled the group of teams as unpredictable and praised their qualities, whilst outlining how his side’s recent experiences at the business-end of the season could serve them well in the challenging few weeks to come.
“I think this is probably the most unpredictable and even group of playoff contenders that we’ve seen in our time in the league – I don’t think there has been much between the four sides in terms of their levels of performance throughout the season, if I’m honest.
“I was impressed with Newtown in the two games we played against them this year, where we beat them at Cyncoed and lost away from home; Caernarfon are always going to be tough and The Oval is going to be a factor with the way they pack that out, of course, and Bala are always there or thereabouts.
“I don’t think there’s much to choose between the four, and I don’t think there’ll be any debating about who deserves it whoever comes out on top in a few weeks because all of the sides are so even, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in our team and we can definitely do the job and go all the way.
“The first year we were in the final we came up against a really good Bangor side, so if we’d have won it would have been a huge bonus, and last year we had a really good chance too, but this is another opportunity so we have to learn from our experiences, go again and do everything we can to deliver the results we want.”
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