It probably won’t be a decisive clash for neither Carmarthen nor Airbus, but this Saturday’s showdown at Richmond Park could certainly go some way in determining whether either will be in the JD Cymru Premier next season.
Carmarthen, only just out of the relegation zone in 10th on goal difference, welcome 12th-placed Airbus to the south-west on Saturday afternoon, and we’ve been catching up with Old Gold midfielder Declan Carroll to reflect on the home side’s season so far.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced lads in the team, and I 100% believe that we can avoid relegation.” The 26-year-old Carroll said. “I think the table doesn’t reflect our quality as a side, because on our day we’re very good.
“We’ve played the likes of Connah’s Quay and drew, held TNS out until the last minute, we did well against Barry in our first fixture against them, we’ve beat Cardiff Met, but we’ve not been consistent and the competitiveness of the league is mad so we find ourselves in this position.
“We’ve got what it takes to push on and stay up, I’m absolutely confident of that. People have doubted us, they are doubting us now, but even when we’re at our worst I’ve always thought we’ll be alright.
‘We’re better sides than the table gives us credit for.’
Both the Old Gold and the Wingmakers will have been hoping for more fortunate results this season, but both have struggled for consistency – either throughout the 90 minutes or from week to week – at various points in the season, contributing to their struggles, despite the significant quality both sides have.
Carroll certainly feels that both his side and their opponents this weekend are better than the table suggest, and added how vital picking up points are during the remaining games.
“They’re all big games for us now as the season comes to a close. This Saturday against Airbus will be tough – I think the table lies a little bit about us and Airbus to be honest, because we’re better sides than I think the table gives us credit for.
“We’ve got to get three points on Saturday, but that’s true of every game at the moment, and we just need to keep climbing as much as we can.
“I’ve seen a fair bit of Airbus, they set up well, they’re good on the counter-attack, they dig in and stick together – even if they’re down to ten men – and I think they’re a good side.”
‘We’ve just got to be more consistent.’
Although they’ve lost only one of their last six outings, consistency has been a big issue for the Old Gold this year, as many a positive result has escaped their grasp throughout the year through conceding late goals to surrender wins or draws.
Carroll puts it down to bad luck in some ways, but does also confess that the team has had to do more in recent weeks to turn their form around.
“I think we’ve been very unlucky this year with the way results have gone for us. Back in October I remember counting how many games we’d lost either by one goal or by a late goal and it was something like seven or eight matches we’d lost because of that.
“We were never whipping boys, I don’t think we should be where we are. We’ve lacked concentration at times this season, but in our last six games we’ve lost one – which was against Barry – but even there we had Lee Idzi (Carmarthen goalkeeper) go down in the warm-up and had to bring the young keeper into the line-up at the last minute.
“I think we’ve just got to be more consistent, really. Our concentration has lapsed at the end of games this season, where teams have a spell and tend to either pull one back or come close to doing that, and we panic, but we just need to stay confident and keep doing things right and keep playing.”
‘His understanding of the game impresses me the most.’
New manager Kristian O’Leary certainly seems to have had a positive impact on Carmarthen’s fortunes since his arrival in the dugout at Richmond Park.
Carroll lauded some of the positive changes that he has made whilst evaluating the new man’s impact.
“The new manager has come in and has us training twice a week now, working on a possession-based style of playing that we weren’t used to, but I think it’s working for us.
“His understanding of the game impresses me the most, really. He always has a reason for what he’s doing, he has a solution to every problem. If someone does this, we do that, and he always has an answer, and it shows the level he has managed and played at, which is very impressive.
“We originally only trained once a week as our squad is spread across south Wales, but the new manager has insisted on training twice a week, which is great – I would train every day if I could!”