Top 10 club matches of the decade: Bala Town

Bala Town celebrate winning the 2016-17 Welsh Cup. Picture: FAW

10 Bala Town 2 Carmarthen Town 1 (Welsh Premier League – Aug 13, 2018)

Henry Jones’ famous rabona assist caught on camera by Naomi Jones

Perhaps not a particularly special game but it produced an all-time classic moment in Bala Town’s history.
Midfielder Henry Jones was the talk of the Welsh Premier and beyond after his amazing ‘rabona’ assist set up Steven Tames to head in the Lakesiders’ first half opener.
After the break Tames made it 2-0 with a tremendous strike and although Sean Hanbury notched a late reply for the Old Gold, it was Bala who took the points.

9 Bala Town 4 Newtown 4 (Welsh Premier League – Aug 20, 2012)

An eight-goal thriller saw Bala trail 3-0, fight back to lead 4-3 with 10 men, only to concede an equaliser three minutes into added time.
Newtown got off to a flyer, Luke Boundford heading in the opener before setting up Craig Whitfield for a second.
The Robins’ third goal was a stunner. Town goalkeeper Ashley Morris cleared the ball into the Newtown half, where defender Shane Sutton returned it with interest into the net from 50 yards plus.
Shell-shocked Bala rallied, Conall Murtagh volleying home before Ian Sheridan’s effort went in off Kieren Mills-Evans. Sheridan also had two goals disallowed as half time arrived with Newtown 3-2 up.
Play went beyond the 70-minute mark in the second half before Lee Hunt set up Sheridan to drill home the equaliser.
Bala were then left a man short after Hunt was red-carded for a dangerous tackle.
Nonetheless, the Lakesiders went 4-3 in front when Sheridan completed his hat-trick with a shot on the turn.
In the 93rd minute Newtown won a free kick on the right and the ball was headed in at the back post with seconds remaining.

8 Bala Town 1 Llanelli 1 (Welsh Cup quarter-final – Bala won 5-4 pens, Feb 25, 2012)

It was a great day for Bala when they dumped holders Llanelli out of the Welsh Cup on spot-kicks at Maes Tegid.
Future Lakesiders star Chris Venables scored in the 41st minute to give the South Wales Reds a half-time lead.
Lee Hunt levelled six minutes into the second half and there was no further scoring by the end of extra time, so it went to penalties and Bala advanced to the semis, where they lost 4-0 to The New Saints.

7 Bala Town 1 Levadia Tallinn 0 (Europa League – July 2, 2013)

Bala caused a major shock on their debut in European football by beating Estonian league leaders Levadia Tallinn 1-0 in Rhyl.
Sky Sports cameras were there to see the Lakesiders win their 14th match in a row in all competitions.
Colin Caton’s side made a dream start when they took the lead after only three minutes.
Striker Ian Sheridan pounced on a loose ball to fire in from close range following Kenny Lunt’s corner.
Levadia missed some good opportunities to pull level by the break, then Mark Jones had two chances to extend Town’s advantage in the first five minutes of the second half.
Both sides had further efforts on goal, Ashley Morris saving well from Ilja Antonov, while Sheridan was through only to be denied by Roman Smishko, but it stayed 1-0 to the end.

6 Bangor City 2 Bala Town 4 (Europa League play-off semi-final 2012/13)

Having qualified for the play-offs through the ‘second division’ Bala travelled to Nantporth in brilliant form on a run of 11 straight wins.
Town defender Stuart Jones headed home from a Conall Murtagh free kick on 28 minutes before Steve Brown set up Mark Jones for number two from close range.
Three minutes from the half time break a high cross from the Bala right slipped from the grasp of Lee Idzi and Ian Sheridan netted from two yards.
Early in the second half Sheridan nodded in to make it 4-0 to the Lakesiders.
In the 57th minute, City’s Chris Jones flicked the ball home at the near post.
One of many second half corners brought Bangor a second goal. Sion Edwards delivered from the right and captain Jamie Brewerton’s header back across goal was nodded in from six yards by Peter Hoy, but it was Bala who deservedly progressed.

5 Bala Town 2 Differdange 1 (Europa League 1st qualifying round – 2015/16)

That demoralising moment when Bala conceded a last gasp goal against Differdange (in red). Picture: Naomi Jones

Rarely could a winning team have ever felt so agonisingly deprived of their just desserts.
Trailing 3-1 from the first leg in Luxembourg, Bala took a 2-0 lead in the return at Rhyl thanks to goals from Conall Murtagh (49 mins) and Ian Sheridan (83).
At this stage the Welsh Premier side were going through on away goals, but a heartbreaking end was in store.
In added time a hopeful ball was lofted into the six-yard box and danger man Omar Er Rafik, who had been kept quiet all night, volleyed home.
That made it 4-3 to Differdange and it was they who advanced to the next round to face Turkey’s Trabzonspor.

4 Bala Town 1 The New Saints 1 (Welsh Premier League – 2014/15)

Bala are overjoyed after clinching second spot. Picture: Naomi Jones

Bala secured their highest-ever top flight position of runners-up and sealed a second venture into Europe with a fine draw against the champions on a tense afternoon at Maes Tegid.
Ian Sheridan’s early strike proved enough to earn the Lakesiders the point that clinched second spot, despite a second half reply from Jamie Reed making for a nervy finish.
The hosts should really have notched their first ever victory over TNS after carving the better chances, only to be scuppered by some wasteful finishing and bad luck in front of goal.
Town were soon on the front foot, Conall Murtagh’s point blank header superbly saved by keeper Chris Mullock.
But Colin Caton’s men were ahead on seven minutes when Sheridan drilled home a loose ball.
Bala continued to threaten, Kieran Smith’s 20 yard volley rattling the woodwork.
The Saints sounded a warning early in the second half as Reed broke through only to lob over the bar.
But Bala gave as good as they got, Murtagh’s looping header bouncing off the bar while Smith’s powerful strike was saved superbly by Mullock.
However, TNS were back on terms on 59 minutes as Reed found the net.
The league leaders began to look more of a threat but, in a frantic finish, sub Mike Hayes went agonisingly close to sealing a Bala win when lobbing the advancing Mullock only for the ball to float just wide of the post.

3 Bala Town 3 The New Saints 1 (Welsh Premier – 2019-20)

Bala rejoice after scoring in their win over TNS. Picture: Naomi Jones

The longest-standing jinx in Welsh top-flight football was finally conquered as Bala claimed their first Cymru Premier victory over The New Saints – at the 33rd attempt.
In 32 previous WPL tussles, Town had managed 11 draws, but never till this evening that elusive W.
Town’s performance was fantastic from start to finish as all the players dug deep and put in one of the best displays seen at Maes Tegid for a long time.
Bala could have taken the lead after three minutes as Chris Venables rattled the crossbar with a header.
But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock when Dean Ebbe bundled in a header at the back post.
Venables hit the crossbar once again with a header late on in the half.
Trailing at the break, it was a superb second half display by the Lakesiders which sealed the deserved victory.
On the 50-minute mark, Bala were back on level terms as a corner was headed on by Anthony Stephens into the six-yard box which Venables swung his foot around to blast home.
Three minutes later, Town took the lead when Louis Robles capitalised on a goalmouth scramble and prodded the ball in from two yards out.
TNS brought on big guns Adrian Cieslewicz, Billy Whitehouse and Greg Draper as they looked for a reply but the Bala back four were resilient and kept them at bay.
Draper put a header against the bar before Town added a third with only four minutes left to play.
A free-kick was delivered into the area and Venables smashed it into the roof of the net – ghost well and truly laid.

2 Port Talbot Town 0 Bala Town 1 (Europa League Play-Off Final 2012/13)

Joy for Bala after qualifying for Europe for the first time. Picture: Naomi Jones

John Irving’s 89th minute goal secured Bala a place in Europe for the first time in their history.
An end-to-end encounter at the GenQuip saw Talbot threaten first when Cortez Belle’s bullet header looked a goal all the way only for the ball to be blocked by his own team-mate Martin Rose.
Mark Jones missed two good opportunities for the Lakesiders before Steven Hall in the Port goal produced a remarkable triple save, first keeping out Lewis Codling’s 18-yard strike, then twice denying Lee Hunt from point blank range.
Extra time was looming when Hunt turned sharply in the box, Hall superbly kept out his shot, but Irving pounced to drill the loose ball into the corner of the net.
The scenes at the final whistle were unforgettable and highly emotional.

1 Bala Town 2 The New Saints 1 (Welsh Cup final – April 30, 2017)

Bala’s greatest day ever – Welsh Cup winners. Picture: FAW

Bala chose the perfect occasion to claim their first-ever win over The New Saints – the Welsh Cup final.
In 29 previous attempts in all competitions, the Lakesiders had never managed to beat the all-timers, but on this May 1, 2017, showpiece at Bangor City’s Nantporth stadium it was a different story.
The previous weekend, full-timers TNS had won a thrilling Welsh Premier League tussle 6-4 between the sides.
The Saints were looking to win the cup for a fourth year in a row which would have seen them clinch an unprecedented third successive domestic treble.
But the holders met their match in Bala who came from behind with two goals in the last 13 minutes to lift the Welsh Cup for the first time in their history.
Chances fell at both ends in the first half, but it was goal-less come the interval.
Chris Marriott struck the bar for Saints with a free kick 10 minutes into the second period, but the reprieve was short-lived as the holders took the lead moments later.
Connell Rawlinson’s looping shot was parried by Ashley Morris, and Steve Saunders got to the loose ball first before teeing up Greg Draper to slot into an empty net.
Adrian Cieslewicz and Jamie Mullan were both denied by Morris before the Lakesiders dug in to turn the tables in dramatic style.
Sub Jordan Evans made an instant impression when his shot from the edge of the box found its way through a crowded goalmouth in the 77th minute.
Then Bala grabbed a famous win four minutes from time when Chris Venables worked space on the right to whip in a terrific cross for an elated Kieran Smith to head firmly past Paul Harrison.
The greatest day in Bala Town’s history.

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