West Wales Intermediate Cup final: Carew v Merlins Bridge, 7.30pm kick off at the Liberty Stadium:

So for the first time ever, Carew are in a West Wales Cup final.

For the first time ever, Merlins Bridge are in a West Wales Cup final.

And for the first time ever, we have an all Pembrokeshire West Wales Cup final.

That is the scale of the occasion tomorrow night, when both the Rooks and the Wizards meet on their date with destiny at the Liberty Stadium.

Of course, in recent years we’ve become used to our local sides playing on this stage. Johnston dramatically won the trophy in 2013, before Goodwick United went on to capture it twice in three years – 2016 and 2018.

But we’ve never had this before. Two of the best teams in the county going head to head in the biggest amateur football game West Wales has to offer.

Buses for supporters of both clubs are heading up and I expect a fair few ‘neutrals’ from the county to attend as well.

After all, you can always tape Liverpool v Barcelona.

Final bout of motivation:

Of course, this is the second time this season the two clubs will play off for silverware.

Last month they contested a Senior Cup final that was seemingly heading for a 1-0 Carew win before Joe Leahy’s late show turned everything around. Afterwards, opinions ranged as to whether the result was highway robbery or testament to a team who knew how to win big games, but regardless, it was a memorable finish.

For Carew it would have been very tough to take but since then they’ve had time to re-group and need to turn that experience into a positive for tomorrow night.

Had Rob Scourfield’s side been hammered or out classed that day it would have been a big ask to bounce back – but it was a game they could (arguably should) have won and Leahy’s leveller was one of those moments you can do little about in football.

As if a first West Wales Cup final wasn’t motivation enough, Scourfield, Jeremy Griffiths, and the players will be hell bent on not letting another opportunity slip. Carew have made huge progress since being promoted four seasons ago and the best way to cement that is with a trophy.

Bridge are also in the same boat in terms of seeking a first ever West Wales win, but their psyche is a slightly different one.

When they won that Senior Cup an historic treble was on the cards – but those hopes disappeared with that league defeat at Monkton four days later.

It’s ridiculous to suggest a mere Senior Cup win would represent a disappointing campaign, it wouldn’t, and having a trophy in the bag already may ease the pressure for some players tomorrow. But from the position they were in at kick off at Monkton Lane, Matthew D’Ivry and co won’t want to finish with just the one.

What both sides cannot do though, is allow motivation to become desperation. For the majority tomorrow it will be the biggest game they’ve ever played in, but it will be a night for composure as well as commitment.

Drawing on experience:

For the Merlins Bridge trio of skipper Chris Ormond, Adam Hawkins, and Andrew John, another little bit of history awaits.

If selected, they will become the first ever players to represent two different Pembrokeshire sides in a West Wales Cup final.

Indeed, the Wizards undoubtedly possess the greater experience. Nine of their players likely to be involved tomorrow night have now won two Senior Cups with the club in three seasons, and in this competition they haven’t been fazed by difficult away trips to Kilvey Fords and Penlan Club in particular.

Having Ormond as captain should serve well tomorrow. He’s been there and done it on this stage as a skipper before, and he’ll know the mindset his team mates need to be in.

Carew have been well led by Iwan Izzard this season and are a much younger squad, with Jack Christopher their only player to have reached 30 (sorry Jack).

That’s not an automatic disadvantage. These past two seasons the squad have gone through four big semi finals together, a final, and to get here have won on the road in Burry Port and Malsters Sports, as well as that final four victory over Giants Grave in Garden Village.

In short, they aren’t going to get stage fright.

As mentioned, they will be desperate to get over the line in terms of a trophy. But they can’t let that deter focus.

How they’ll play…and lasting the pace:

That meeting on the Meadow will have a bearing on tomorrow night. Not necessarily the result, but the way the sides set up.

After Carew took the lead through Sam Christopher’s goal, they had a 15 minute period where they pulled the Bridge defence all over the place. They didn’t capitalise, but that spell would have been enough for D’Ivry and Marcus Taylor to realise they can’t afford to give their opponents that much time and space on the Liberty. The pace of Christopher and Jordan Richards up front will stretch the Bridge defence again and Ormond and co will need to be alert to it.

The set piece play of the Rooks is simple yet effective. From throw ins, Shaun Whitfield will look for the head of Jack Christopher and Lloyd Hughes will do similar from free kicks and corners. Knowing what’s coming is one thing, dealing with it is another.

Bridge meanwhile, will want to get their front men in the game a lot earlier than they did a fortnight ago. Leahy’s late brace was spectacular but prior to that him, Adam Hawkins and Nathan Greene didn’t get the time and space they needed to do damage.

Having said that, the late show proved you can never switch off against such a threatening attack. Laurie Haworth has also been in superb form of late and his duel with Whitfield, should both start, could be critical.

Where Bridge may feel they have an edge is durability. They are a very fit side and during the second half of the Senior Cup final it was noticeable that a number of Carew players struggled with cramp and fatigue. Tomorrow won’t be the same in terms of hot, energy sapping conditions, but both sets of players will need to dig deep on a wide surface.

The potential squads:

For a West Wales Cup game, 16 can be named.

But the Carew squad that beat Giants Grave was missing both Spencer Williams and Scott Ferney, and I’d expect both of them to feature tomorrow.

Bridge meanwhile, were without the then injured Peter Thomas for their semi final win, and with his compisure and experience, he will be in contention to play tomorrow.

Like Ferney, Will Haworth also came off the bench in the Senior Cup final. The width and nature of the surface at the Liberty wll suit the winger and it wouldn't surprise me if he was in the XI from kick off.

What may influence both sides in selection is the respective decisions over a replacement keeper. Goodwick United named one in their two recent final wins and while it’s unlikely it will be needed, having to field an outfield player in the sticks on such a big night is a scenario you really don’t want.

Worth the risk? Or better safe than sorry?

Carew (16 to be picked): Tom Davies, Shaun Whitfield, Jack Christopher, Max Brindley, Zak Rowell, Iwan Izzard, Ian Darbyshire, Lloyd Hughes, Alex Bayley, Jordan Richards, Sam Christopher, Ben Evans, Scott Richards, Haydn Shapcott, James Hinchcliffe, Tom Grover, Spencer Williams, Scott Ferney.

Merlins Bridge (16 to be picked): Gary Thomas, Chris Ormond, Matthew D’Ivry, Dai Davies, Laurie Haworth, Richard Hughes, Joe Leahy, Dai Davies, Nathan Greene, Andrew John, Ashley Beck, Gethin Roberts, Jordan Thomas, Leon Pemberthy, Peter Thomas, Will Haworth, Adam Hawkins, Joe Haworth.

All on the night:

For all the hype and analysis, it could simply come down to a case of who stands up to be counted when it matters in Swansea.

Both teams can play, both teams have quality, and both teams will think they have the measure of the other. Producing in the pressure cooker of a West Wales Cup final is a different matter though – and I hope both play to theit potential and put on a memorableoccasion.

Regardless, let’s all get behind an historic night for Pembrokeshire football.

See you at the Liberty then......and to finish, a reminder how both sides got here:

Round 1:

Carew - BYE.

Kilvey Fords 0-1 Merlins Bridge (Will Haworth).

Round 2:

Burry Port 2-5 Carew (Jordan Richards 2, Scott Ferney 2, Lloyd Hughes)

Penlan Club 0-1 Merlins Bridge (Joe Leahy)

Round 3:

Carew 8-0 Loughor Rovers (Lloyd Hughes 4, Jordan Richards 3, Scott Ferney)

Merlins Bridge 3-0 Monkton Swifts (Joe Leahy, Nathan Greene 2)

Round 4:

Malsters Sports 0-4 Carew (Jordan Richards, Scott Ferney, Sam Christopher, Shaun Whitfield)

Merlins Bridge 2-1 Llandarcy (Nathan Greene, Joe Leahy)

Quarter finals:

Carew 3-2 Mumbles Rangers (Sam Christopher, Jack Christopher, Shaun Whitfield)

Merlins Bridge 4-2 Plough Colts (Adam Hawkins 2, Dai Davies, Nathan Greene)

Semi finals:

Carew 4-2 Giants Grave (Lloyd Hughes 2, Sam Christopher 2)

Merlins Bridge 2-2 Hakin United - Bridge win 8-7 on penalties (Adam Hawkins, Joe Leahy)