NEWTOWN will play in the Europa Conference League next season after they beat Caernarfon Town in a thrilling encounter on Saturday (May 29).
Caernarfon took the lead only to see Newtown hit back to lead at half time. The home side responded to regain the lead in the second half before Newtown’s late flurry saw them victorious by five goals to three.
With plenty at stake there were some strong challenges being made and an early clash of heads brought about the game’s first yellow card.
With seventeen minutes on the clock the breakthrough was finally made as a ball over the top found Jack Kenny who looped the ball over the Newtown keeper and into the net despite the best efforts of Shane Sutton.
Caernarfon also saw a shot go narrowly wide with half an hour gone but with eight minutes to go until the break the game began to turn.
A long ball over the top fell to Lifumpa Mwandwe who lobbed the ball over the keeper, only to see his shot cleared off the line. However, as he took his shot he was clattered by the Caernarfon keeper and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Nick Rushton stepped up and fired the penalty high into the net to level the game at 1-1.
Then on the stroke of half time the Robins took the lead. Rushton saw a shot saved but the ball fell to Mwandwe who composed himself before firing back across goal into the bottom corner of the net.
Five minutes of injury time were added as a result of the early clash of heads and it was the home side who attacked towards the end but a late Bradley free kick hit the wall.
Caernarfon made a change at the start of the second half with Jake Bickerstaff replacing Mike Hayes.
Noah Edwards had an early chance for the home side but his shot bobbled wide.
With just under an hour gone, Newtown failed to clear a throw in and the ball fell to Darren Thomas who fired in to level the game at 2-2.
Ten minutes later Newtown were inches away from regaining the lead as Kieran Mills-Evans’ volley bounced out off the post.
On 72 minutes Caernarfon regained the lead as sub Bickerstaff broke from a Newtown corner and after the referee waved played on following a foul, he ran on before laying the ball off for Thomas on the left hand side of the box and he fired low into the bottom left corner to make it 3-2 to the hosts.
Newtown were down but not out and five minutes later they had a free kick on the left hand side which James Davies headed in to make it 3-3.
The scoring wasn’t finished there and with nine minutes left to play, Mwandwe broke and passed to Davies. Mwandwe was fouled but the referee waved play on and Davies wrong-footed the Caernarfon keeper to make it 4-3 to the visitors.
With five minutes to go Newtown took a quick free kick and the ball was played in to Davies who crossed into the box for Jamie Breese who bundled the ball in to make it 5-3 to the Robins.
Time was beginning to run out for the home side and with four minutes of injury time added on Caernarfon looked to pull a goal back.
It never came and Newtown celebrated as the final whistle went.
Newtown were second from bottom before the lockdown and their win in the play-off final caps a remarkable turnaround for Chris Hughes’ team.