Senior Cup Final - Carew v Merlins Bridge on Saturday, April 20th, 2.30pm kick off at the Bridge Meadow:

So Carew v Merlins Bridge in a big final - part one.

Just over two weeks before the two sides meet in the West Wales Intermediate Cup final at the Liberty Stadium, the Rooks and the Wizards contest the Senior Cup final this Saturday.

Two good footballing sides and a game hard to be predict, this one should attract plenty of interest and a huge crowd. It promises to be a big day at The Meadow.

The history:

For Carew, this represents a first final since 2005, where they lost 1-0 to St Ishmaels at Monkton Lane.

And it was Tish who they beat when they last won the trophy in 1986, with their overall record standing at four wins and five defeats.
One of those successes came against Bridge though, when they prevailed 1-0 in the 1975/76 season.

The Wizards are far more familiar with this stage. This will be their 16th final, and they've won eight and lost seven so far.

Their last appearance was in that 2016/17 campaign, when under Nathan Thomas they ended a run of three straight final defeats by beating Clarbeston Road 2-1.

The form guide:

Bridge are still chasing a treble, bang in the title race having won 11 league games on the bounce. In fact following this, wins at Monkton (next Wednesday) and Hakin (week Saturday) will be enough. The bulk of this squad was also involved when in 2016/17, they ended a run of three straight final defeats by beating Clarbeston Road 2-1, so they'll go in confident.

But under manager Rob Scourfield and assistant Jeremy Griffiths, Carew are also flying.

They have not lost a league or cup game since November 17th, ironically when they played Merlins Bridge at The Racecourse and were beaten 3-1. 

Since then the sides have drawn 2-2 back at Carew.

The Rooks don't have the same final experience as Bridge but have now been in four cup semi finals these past two seasons. And in this campaign, they've proved they can rise to big occasions.

There is no clear favourite here and an intriguing 90 minutes awaits.

The squads (14 to be selected on the day): 

Carew: Tom Davies, Jack Christopher, Iwan Izzard, Ian Darbyshire, Lloyd Hughes, Zac Rowell, Jordan Richards, Spencer Williams, Shaun Whitfield, Scott Ferney, Tom Grover, Alex Bayley, Sam Christopher, James Hinchliffe, Max Brindley, Tom Grover.

Merlins Bridge: Gary Thomas, Chris Ormond, Dai Davies, Laurie Haworth, Richard Hughes, Joe Leahy, Nathan Greene, Andrew John, Ashley Beck, Gethin Roberts, Jordan Thomas, Leon Pemberthy, Peter Thomas, Will Haworth, Adam Hawkins, Joe Haworth.

The road to the final:

Round 1:
Carew 2-1 Johnston (Scott Ferney 2)
Merlins Bridge 10- 0 Cosheston (Adam Hawkins (5), Joe Leahy (2), Jordan Thomas (2), Ashley Beck)

Round 2:
Narberth 1-4 Carew
(Jordan Richards 2, Scott Ferney, Lloyd Hughes)
Merlins Bridge 5-1 Herbrandston (Adam Hawkins 2, Nathan Green, Joe Leahy, Ashley Beck)

Quarter finals:
Solva 1-7 Carew (Jordan Richards 3, Iwan Izzard, Lloyd Hughes, Scott Ferney, Shaun Whitfield)
Merlins Bridge 3-2 Hakin United (Richard Hughes, Nathan Greene 2)

Semi finals:
Carew 3-1 Pennar Robins
(Sam Christopher, Shaun Whitfield, Scott Ferney)
Merlins Bridge 3-0 Monkton Swifts (Adam Hawkins, Laurie Haworth, Nathan Greene)

The predictions:

Matthew Ellis – Clarbeston Road player manager: I can see a few goals for each team with the Bridge to edge it in extra time.
Both have got a hectic month and I think this could affect Carew more than the Bridge. The Wizards have a bit more strength and depth.
Prediction: Carew 2-3 Merlins Bridge (after extra time)

Wayne O’Sullivan - Goodwick United player manager: It’s really hard to pick a winner from two sides in very good form. There are match winners in both teams, but I can just see the Bridge’s greater experience allowing them to edge it in an extremely close game.
Prediction: Merlins Bridge 2-1 Carew

Kristan Bennett – Hakin United manager: I’ve been impressed with both sides. Carew are mproving every season, but like us they tend to leak goals and the flair Bridge have flair  going forward with Nathan Greene and both Haworth lads  all proven game winners, so must be kept quiet. If they can do that then they’re in with a chance - so I fancy Carew to cause an upset.
Prediction: Carew 3-2 Merlins Bridge

Sean Thomas – Herbrandston manager: Carew play the best football in the league, with a team full of pace and quality on the ball. Although the Bridge are very dangerous in attack themselves I think Carew will thrive on the big pitch and sneak the win. If Jack Christopher plays they’ll be very difficult to contain.
Prediction: Carew 3-2 Merlins Bridge

Adrian Hutchings – Milford United manager: I fancy Carew because they’re one of the best sides we’ve played this season. The Rooks have a lot of pace and play good football, Ferney in the middle is key as is Shaun Whitfield who gives them that bit extra at full back. The Bridge are an experienced team who will be well organised, but I feel that Carew will sneak it.
Prediction: Carew 2-1 Merlins Bridge

Joe Lewis – Monkton Swifts manager: I really do fancy Carew to steal the show in a closely fought final with the Rooks winning the silverware with a late goal in normal time.
Prediction: Carew 3-2 Merlins Bridge

Jordan Williams – Narberth player manager: I think Merlins Bridge will be too strong for Carew on the day, and I think Joe Leahy will score a hat-trick and will be the man of the match.
Prediction: Carew 1-3 Merlins Bridge

Neyland – Andrew Kemp manager: Credit to both teams for reaching two finals in one season, great achievement. For me I just favour the Bridge. They have played twice on the Bridge Meadow in recent weeks and that could work in their favour. Nathan Greene is a great all-round striker and I think he will be the match winner in a thrilling final.
Prediction: Carew 3-2 Merlins Bridge

Chris Lloyd – Pennar Robins manager: The Bridge I believe will be too strong for the more youthful Carew players. A close encounter, but the experience of the Bridge players will see them through.
Prediction: Carew 1-3 Merlins Bridge

Micky Phillips – Pembrokeshire League Council: I think Merlins Bridge will narrowly beat Carew. Both teams have had a cracking season, but the Bridge have a bit more experience on the bigger stage, and that will give them an edge. I’m hoping the final will a good advert for Pembrokeshire football and a great family occasion.
Prediction: Merlins Bridge 2-1 Carew