JD Cymru Premier League
Airbus UK Broughton 1 Bala Town 2
Chris Venables grabbed a double as Bala kicked off the JD Cymru Premier League season with a narrow win at promoted Airbus, reports Hannah Jones.
Both sides threatened in the opening minutes. Former Lakesider Jordan Evans saw his spectacular attempt fizzle over the crossbar before at the other end, Lassana Mendes pulled a strike wide of the post.
Town dominated the opening 45 minutes, Lee Molyneux seeing an initial effort saved by Dave Roberts prior to Venables sending the follow-up chance wide. Molyneux was again in the mix minutes later as his edge of the box strike went inches off target.
Bala were mounting the pressure, Mendes’ header being well stopped.
Midway through the half, Town were awarded a penalty when Roberts fouled Louis Robles in the area and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Venables converted to give the Lakesiders the lead on 24 minutes.
Down the other end, Josh Tibbetts was called into action when he saved Andy Owens’ shot and Steve Tomassen went desperately close with a header.
Molyneux almost added a second for the visitors when his daisy-cutter rattled the base of the post.
In injury time, a second was scored when a corner was delivered into the area, flicked onwards by Anthony Stephens and pounced upon by Venables, who beat the offside trap and buried the ball into the net for Town to take a 2-0 lead into the break.
The second half was completely different to the first with Airbus piling on the pressure.
Tibbets tipped over a goalbound effort before the Wingmakers halved the deficit on 58 minutes when Curtis Strong unleashed a rocket into the top right hand corner.
Last season’s runaway Cymru Alliance champions Airbus were playing some good football with Bala having to defend strongly to deny them a leveller, Tibbetts making three exceptional saves.
But Colin Caton’s men, who had a goal ruled out for offside, held on for a hard-fought victory.
The New Saints 1 Caernarfon Town 0
There were plenty of positives in defeat for a Caernarfon side which gave the champions a big test at Park Hall on Sunday..
Leo Smith could have put the visitors ahead in the third minute when he got on the end of a Gareth Evans cross but could not quite steer his headed effort on target.
Sion Bradley ran into the penalty area before forcing Paul Harrison into a smart save with his legs. Town’s number one, Alex Ramsay, was in action two minutes later as he tipped Jamie Mullan’s thunderbolt over the crossbar.
Harrison came to the champions’ rescue on numerous occasions, keeper out a Jamie Crowther long ranger, and making a double save to thwart Bradley and Smith.
The hosts went ahead in the 27th minute when Ryan Brobbel expertly curled his free kick around Town’s defensive wall, giving Ramsay little chance.
The Cofis remained positive in their approach, Jamie Breese forcing Harrison into a full-stretch save before Gruff John Williams and Ryan Williams went close, then TNS’ Greg Draper should have done better from a close range header..
Caernarfon appealed for a penalty early in the second period when Gareth Evans was bundled over in the area, but referee Robert Jenkins wasn’t convinced, much to the frustration of the away players and supporters.
TNS enjoyed plenty of possession but very rarely managed to find a way through Town’s stubborn defence. Dean Ebbe went closest to doubling their lead when Ramsay concocted a good save to keep his effort out.
Smith was inches away from an equaliser, but a very relieved TNS held on for three points.
Caernarfon manager Sean Eardley said: “To perform the way we did was exceptional from the boys and one of the lads said after the match, I think it was Joe Williams, that the bar has been set now and there’s absolutely no point in us settling for anything less than that kind of performance from now on.”
Caernarfon: Alex Ramsay, Joe Williams, Mike Pearson, Gruffydd John, Noah Edwards, Ryan Williams, Jamie Crowther, Gareth Evans, Leo Smith, Jamie Breese, Sion Bradley. Subs (used): Darren Thomas, Cai Jones, Shaun Cavanagh, Not used: Sam Jones.
Connah’s Quay Nomads 1 (Jamie Insall, Callum Morris penalty saved) Cardiff Metropolitan 1
Aberystwyth Town 3 Carmarthen Town 2
Newtown 0 Cefn Druids 0
Penybont 1 Barry Town United 2.