Preview: Bala Town v Larne – UEFA Europa Conference League (Thursday 7 pm)

Graphic: Bala Town FC

Bala Town v Larne
UEFA Europa Conference League first qualifying round, first leg (7 pm at Park Hall, Oswestry)

Often in the past, Cymru Premier clubs have been the novices in Europe, but that certainly will not be the case when Bala welcomes Northern Ireland opposition tonight at Park Hall, TNS.

While the Lakesiders will embark on their 13th European game and seventh tie, visitors Larne are set to play their first-ever match in Europe.

Larne FC are a professional club who reside in County Antrim and compete in the NIFL Premiership.

The Northern Irish side booked their place in the UECL by overcoming Cliftonville in a Play-Off final with a 3-1 scoreline.

Larne play at Inver Park which has a capacity of 2,500 and was constructed in 1918.

Since 2018, the ground has been renovated with an artificial pitch, floodlights and a new 600 seat stand. Another 600-seater stand has been under construction.

In 2018 the club was taken over by the co-founder of Purple Bricks Kenny Bruce, and then went on to win the 2018/19 NIFL Championship, which secured a return to the top division. They were relegated to the second level in the 2007/08 season, after failing to meet the criteria needed for the newly formed IFA Premiership.

One of Larne’s most famous sons is former world champion boxer Dave ‘Boy’ McAuley.

He held the IBF flyweight title from 1989 to 1992, and challenged twice for the WBA flyweight crown in 1987 and 1988.

At regional level, he held the British flyweight title in 1986.

Well-known Northern Ireland international footballers Gareth McAuley, Dave Clements, Keith Gillespie and Jeff Hughes also hail from Larne.

Bala will field some impressive new signings, including ex-Wales, Wolves, Reading, Luton and Shrewsbury Town midfielder David Edwards, former Wrexham star Paul Rutherford, who made more than 180 appearances for the Dragons and one-time Tranmere Rovers first-teamer Danny Walker-Rice.

Bala Town squad:

RAMSAY Alex
WOODS Callum
SMITH Sean
PEATE Nathan
STEPHENS Anthony
SPITTLE Jonny
MENDES Lassana
EVANS Will
WALKER-RICE Danny
SMITH Kieran
LESLIE Steve
KAY Antony
RUTHERFORD Paul
EDWARDS Dave
BAURESS Bradley
VENABLES Chris
SHANNON Oliver
LLOYD Harri

Bala Town in Europe

2013-14
UEFA Europa League 1Q: – Bala Town 1 (Ian Sheridan) Levadia Tallinn (Estonia) 0; Levadia Tallinn 3 Bala Town 1 (Ryan Jones) – aggregate 2-3
2015-16
UEFA Europa League 1Q – Differdange (Luxembourg) 3 Bala Town 1 (Ian Sheridan); Bala Town 2 (Conall Murtagh, Ian Sheridan) Differdange 1 – aggregate 3-4
2016-17
UEFA Europa League 1Q – AJK (Sweden) 2 Bala Town 0; Bala Town 0 AJK 2 – aggregate 0-4
2017-18
UEFA Europa League 1Q – Bala Town 1 (Chris Venables) Vaduz (Liechtenstein) 2; Vaduz 3 Bala Town 0 – aggregate 1-5
2018-19
UEFA Europa League PR – Bala Town 1 (Nathan Burke) Tre Fiori (San Marino) 0; Tre Fiori 3 Bala Town 0 – aggregate 1–3
2020-21
UEFA Europa League 1Q – Valletta (Malta) 0 Bala Town 1 (Chris Venables)
UEFA Europa League 2Q – Standard Liège (Belgium) 2 Bala Town 0

Played 12 Won 4 Drawn 0 Lost 8 Goals For 8 Goals Against 21

Goalscorers

3 – Ian Sheridan
2 – Chris Venables
1 – Ryan Jones, Conall Murtagh, Nathan Burke

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