2019 was quite the year for Caernarfon Town, as they finished off a very successful first season back at JD Cymru Premier level by qualifying for the European playoffs, before heading into the 2019/20 season and continuing to go from strength to strength.
The Cofis didn't end the year in the best way, succumbing to consecutive defeats against Bala Town, but manager Sean Eardley says he is pleased with his side’s progress so far, as we caught up with him ahead of this weekend’s game against Penybont.
“We’re really pleased with where we are at this point in the season. We’ve let ourselves down a little bit against Bala over the festive period, but full credit to them for their performances and for getting the results. We did target at least three points, but got zero, and now it is down to us to react to this.
“We’ve got a long way to go, we’ll dissect these last two games, and look at how we adjust with more injuries and suspensions, and find solutions to tackle those problems moving forward.”
After a super first campaign back in the Cymru Prem, perhaps some would have expected the Cofis to run out of steam somewhat in their second season, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case, as they’ve spent most of the season in the top half.
Occupying fifth place at present with a game in hand, Eardley’s side can secure a Championship Conference berth this Saturday, and the manager discussed just how well he feels his side have done this season in their second term back in the top flight.
“We touched on this a few weeks ago when we played Newtown, just to put it into perspective how well we’ve done this season, and if we’d have won that game we’d have gone joint top of the table, which would have had the Cofis in dreamland.
“If we’d won on Boxing Day we’d have gone up to third, so we’ve done exceptionally well in some difficult circumstances, truth be told, as we’ve had a number of long-term injuries to key players like Jamie Crowther, Noah Edwards and others who are big players for us.
“We’re going to be a bit thin on the ground against Penybont, but we’re looking forward to travelling down there and putting up a fight to hopefully make the long trip home with the three points.”
Given they need only two points to secure a top six place, it would take quite a collapse for the Cofis not to be in the Championship Conference for Phase Two, but Eardley is not ruling it out, and argues that consistency will be the deciding factor for teams across the league to achieve their goals this year.
“We’re not going to underestimate any team around us. We know there is a lot of work to be done, and we’ve seen that over these last two games, but we’re ready to stand up and put that work in.
“People might be looking at the last couple of results and thinking we’re buckling under the pressure and they’ll have their opinions, but it is up to us to stand up and be counted for now.
“After Penybont, we welcome Aberystwyth to the Oval for our last home game of Phase One, so the atmosphere there will be incredible, and we’re looking forward to what lays ahead beyond that.
“The consistency from teams is going to be crucial in deciding how the rest of the season pans out, definitely, because everyone has shown they’re capable of beating anyone on their day this season once again.
“Bala are doing their best to keep up with the top two, Barry are a very good side, then ourselves, Newtown, Druids and Cardiff Met are all battling it out.
“I think you can split the league into three, really, with the top three or four teams all very close to each other, another group of very evenly matched teams in the middle, and those who are lower down the table are very close too.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we’re competitive now as we approach the split and carry our good work from Phase One into that second half of the season.”
After a pretty decent 2019 for the Canaries, what does Eardley think 2020 will hold?
“2020 holds a lot of opportunities for this club and we’ll keep dreaming. I am going to do everything I can to push this club forward, and so will the players.
“We’re going to be together, we’ve got to be to tackle the challenges that lay ahead, and we look forward to taking those on with the Cofi Army.
“Hopefully we will be in the top six, but we’re just taking it game by game, and making sure the Cofis are ready to go week in, week out, but we’ll dust ourselves down after the Bala games and look forward to what is hopefully a successful 2020.”
Penybont v Caernarfon, Saturday 4 January, SDM Glass Stadium, 14:30 KO.