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Haverfordwest County AFC display grit and determination as European dream ends

IN an electrifying encounter at the Cardiff City Stadium, Haverfordwest County AFC displayed immense determination and skill in their final Europa Conference League match against B36 Torshavn. The rollercoaster of emotions during this gripping fixture cannot be overstated.

The second-round tie against B36 Torshavn had been a nail-biting affair from the outset. Haverfordwest faced an uphill battle after suffering a 2-1 loss in the Faroe Islands on July 27.

The ‘home’ leg at Cardiff City Stadium was nothing short of epic. The Haverfordwest players entered the field buoyed by their improved second-half performance in the Faroe Islands and the deafening cheers of their devoted traveling contingent.

The match began with scintillating action on both ends, as Haverfordwest showcased some intricate passing plays. However, the team suffered an early blow when their influential captain, Jazz Richards, was forced to leave the field due to injury. This was a heart-wrenching moment for the fans and a significant setback for the squad.

Despite the absence of Richards, Haverfordwest held their ground admirably. The defensive line, marshalled by goalkeeper Zac Jones, showcased resilience and composure, making crucial saves and parrying dangerous attempts from the formidable B36 side.

As the first half drew to a close, Haverfordwest supporters held their breath with anticipation. The goalless score at halftime against B36, a professional team with a strong track record, was a testament to the grit and determination of the Welsh side.

The second half saw a brilliant offensive push from Haverfordwest, led by young talent Ben Fawcett. His superb strike found the back of the net, igniting euphoria among the fans and levelling the aggregate score at 2-2. The atmosphere inside the stadium reached a fever pitch as both teams battled fiercely for the decisive goal.

In the dying moments of regular time, Haverfordwest’s Rhys Abbruzzese delivered a heroic save on the goal line, putting his body on the line to deny B36 a late winner. The crowd erupted with appreciation for his incredible efforts.

With the scoreboard still tied during extra time, the prospect of another nail-biting penalty shootout loomed. But fate took a cruel turn for Haverfordwest as a controversial handball decision in the first period of extra time awarded B36 a penalty. Jann Benjaminsen converted the spot-kick, sealing a 3-2 aggregate victory for the Faroese side.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, there were many positives for Haverfordwest to take away from this epic encounter. The fans witnessed a stellar performance from their goalkeeper Zac Jones, who stood tall amidst the pressure. Kai Whitmore’s tireless efforts in midfield and Lee Jenkins’ commanding presence in defense were also noteworthy.

It is difficult to see the team’s journey in the Europa Conference League come to an end. However, the spirit and fight displayed by the players throughout the tournament have left an indelible mark, and we can look forward to even greater achievements in the future. For now, we stand united with the team, proud of their valiant efforts and hopeful for the exciting prospects that lie ahead.

Watch the whole game here

A note from the Haverfordwest County AFC Chairman

“As we bow out from what has been a memorable European campaign, the Board and I can only look back with immense pride. I feel we have captured the hearts of many outside the club, and given those already associated with the club some of their best footballing memories. The boys certainly gave me some of my best memories, and they will live with me forever.

“Not only were we class acts on the pitch, but we were class acts off it too. Everyone at the club that has travelled over the last four weeks has acted with professionalism, maturity, and dignity, and they should all hold their heads extremely high. Let’s not forget there were lads in the group that had never travelled anywhere before, and their families and academy coaches should be extremely proud. I could never wish to experience this with such an incredible group of players, coaches, and staff.

“During our campaign, KF Shkëndija called our first leg a ‘training session’, and had already booked their hotel in the Faroe Islands. However, credit where it’s due, they were very professional to deal with, and showed humility and respect in defeat – as you would expect from such an experienced and professional club.

“The same cannot be said for B36 Tórshavn. For a club of their stature, I could not have expected the lack of class and respect that they showed us. I will say no more on that, and just wish them and their officials a safe journey back, and I hope they enjoy their experience in Croatia.

“Speaking of the football community, we are all so grateful for the support the club has received from all corners over the last four weeks. Media attention has been at an all time high, and to have those crowds showing so much passion in our two home games was fantastic. I’m so glad we put on a show for you, by winning both in 90 minutes with the drama of penalties (or not) sprinkled in for good measure.

“This whole experience has made us even more determined to have these experiences year on year. We weren’t ready to end the journey yet, and didn’t deserve for it to end, but there is fire in the belly and we need to carry that forward to the league now, and put ourselves in the best position for our European Tour 2.0.

“Again, huge thanks to everyone that has followed us, and we hope you stick with us.

Diolch and Uppa Blues x”