PENYBONT and Newtown are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to their experience of the JD Cymru Premier’s European play-offs.

The two sides meet on the outskirts of Bridgend today (kick-off 12.15pm) knowing victory would leave them one win away from a place in next season’s Europa Conference League.

While a play-off semi-final is old hat to Chris Hughes’ Newtown, Penybont are in the European shake-down for the first time in their history.

They have home advantage for this weekend’s clash after finishing the regular season in fourth place – Newtown were seventh, top of the bottom six clubs following the split.

For Penybont boss Rhys Griffiths, the prospect of qualifying for Europe is a far cry from where the club was when he arrived in 2016.

“Thinking back to five years ago when I joined the club, we didn’t have the facilities to get into the Cymru Premier,” said the 41-year-old.

“There were a lot of naysayers who said we would never get into the Cymru Premier, but we were all adamant we could, and we did it.

“Our togetherness and work ethic has got us through this season, and to qualify for Europe would just be amazing for the club and the players.”

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He added: “I think we finished as high in the league as we could have expected, but I don’t think we are the favourites for this game.

“We’ve got a lot of players out and we’ve never experienced the play-offs before.

“They beat us when we came back after the second lockdown and they have a lot of experience of the play-offs.

“We have lost our last three and they are the team with the momentum.”

On his own career in management, Griffiths, a seven-time winner of the Cymru Premier’s Golden Boot award for the league’s top scorer, said: “I had one game as caretaker manager of Port Talbot Town.

"We won it and I said I was going to retire from management with a 100 per cent record!

“I had done my coaching badges and Penybont were in a position where they wanted to push on, and it was a match made in heaven.

“They wanted to get into the Cymru Premier but it was also a good chance for me to learn my trade in the league below first.

“It’s my first management job but I feel like I’ve been doing it for a while now.”

A firefighter by day, Griffiths was working until 9am on the morning of last Saturday’s loss to Connah’s Quay Nomads, who secured the title with a 2-0 win at the SDM Glass Stadium.

Griffiths even came off the bench in the second half in a bid to get his side back in the game at 1-0 down.

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Meanwhile, Hughes, pictured above, who guided Newtown to a famous 4-2 aggregate defeat of Valletta in the Europa League in 2015, believes no-one wanted to face his team in the play-offs.

“The players have been fantastic since the split and the momentum and confidence is there,” he said.

“I don’t think Penybont wanted to play us because of the way we have been playing in the last few weeks.

“I don’t think any teams wanted to play us because of the way we finished the season.

“It’s a free hit for us. We qualified as winners of the bottom six, but I think two or three teams have done that and gone on to win the play-offs.

“We need to make sure we perform and we’re going to give it a really good go.”

He added: “It was a great experience beating Valletta and then playing Copenhagen, and we would love to repeat that.”