Cymru Premier: Phenomenal Venables returns to top of goals chart

Chris Venables grabbed two crucial goals for Bala

Caernarfon Town 1 (Breese 83)
Bala Town 2 (Venables 55, 88)

The phenomenal Chris Venables proved the key difference as his double strike secured Bala the win which ended Caernarfon’s unbeaten home record in the Cymru Premier this season.

League top-scorer Venables boosted his total this season to 17 for a Lakesiders outfit which strengthened its grip on third place and sealed a top six Championship Conference spot.

The 34-year-old won three WPL Golden Boots in a row between 2013-14 and 2015-16 while an Aberystwyth player and he is looking capable of repeating the feat with the Maes Tegid men this term.

Venables is sixth in the all-time Welsh Premier goal-getters list with 173 and is now just four behind fifth-place Chris Summers.

Boxing Day’s battle at The Oval saw a first half of few clear chances, Danny Brookwell going close for the Canaries when he rattled the crossbar.

The deadlock was broken in the 55th minute when a razor-sharp Venables got in front of his marker at the near post to head in a pinpoint Louis Robles cross from the right.

Venables and Henry Jones almost added a second before the Canaries levelled seven minutes from time.

A free kick was laid off to Leo Smith, whose absolute rocket bounced down off the bar. Gruffydd John headed goalwards, Bala keeper Josh Tibbetts got a hand to the ball but Jamie Breese was on hand to find the net.

The large crowd of 842 now sensed the Cofis could go on and pinch the points, but it was a determined Bala who grabbed the decider two minutes from time.

Lassana Mendes won an aerial challenge in midfield and hooked the ball into the path of Venables, who worked the ball onto his left foot and drilled in the winner.

Cefn Druids 0
The New Saints 5 (Redmond 26, Cieslewicz 35, Draper, 50, 65 and 70 pen)

Greg Draper banged in a hat-trick to temporarily move top of the Cymru Premier goalscorers chart, only for Bala’s Chris Venables to leap back above him three hours later.

Draper made it 16 for the campaign with his latest treble for the Saints, who already led 2-0 at half time thanks to netfinders from Daniel Redmond and Adrian Cieslewicz.

The champions, chasing a ninth title in the bounce, remain a point clear at the summit.

Connah’s Quay Nomads 2 (Insall 15, Disney 45)
Airbus UK Broughton 1 (Owens 80 pen)

Nomads looked set to achieve a comfortable win after first half goals from Jamie Insall and John Disney put them in command.

But this north east Wales derby ended up to be quite a battle with Andy Owens’ 80th minute penalty against his old club giving lowly Airbus late hope.

Insall broke the deadlock with a typical poacher’s finish from inside the box, but Wingmakers keeper Dave Roberts will feel he should have done better with defender Disney’s bobbling effort.

Despite the Owens penalty, Nomads held on for the spoils and remain a point behind leaders TNS. Andy Morrison’s men are now also assured of a Championship Conference berth.

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