Action from the match (Photo: Evan Dobson)
Bala hosted gap Connah´s Quay knowing only a win in manager Colin Caton’s 400th match in charge would give them any chance of gaining a top 6 place, and a place in the Championship conference after the league split.
The Lakesiders also needed other results to go their way to enable them to achieve a top 6 place.
The visitors nearly had a reduced number of spectators, as the Connah´s Quay supporters bus was late arriving at the ground, and apparently circled Bala 3 times looking for Maes Tegid, however the away fans arrived at the ground just in time for kick to cheer the Nomads on.
The hosts got out of the blocks quickly, and a long ball forward from Ben Collins was met by the head of Lee Hunt, and Nomads keeper John Rushton was grateful that player manager Mark McGregor was on hand to head the ball off the goal line after the keeper got nowhere near the ball as he came charging off his line.
The match took a dramatic twist in the 6th minute, as Bala were reduced to 10 men, after Conall Murtagh received a straight red card from referee Bryn Markham-Jones after a two footed challenge on former Bala Town player Mike Hayes.
The match took another turn in the 17th minute, as gap played a ball from a throw in towards Hayes and Jamie Petrie, however Ben Collins reacted quickest, and slid in low to get to the ball first, however his luck wasn’t in, as he saw the ball go into the back of the net to give the visitors the lead.
The Lakesiders were on level terms in the 24th minute, as the ball was played to Lewis Codling in the penalty area, and he put the ball past Rushton with a close range effort.
Two successive corners came close to giving Bala the lead, the first of which saw Rushton make a point blank save from Lee Hunt, and from the resulting corner McGregor headed Hunt’s header off the goal line.
A minute later it was the visitors that were in front, as Ryan Edwards, who had replaced the injured Michael Robinson, span with the ball 20 yards from goal before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net for a candidate for goal of the month.
Nomads extended their lead in the opening minutes of the second half, as McGregor played a long ball forward, which was collected by Hayes, who showed a great piece of skill to spin past Stuart Jones before a unleashing a left foot shot past Ashley Morris, and into the back of the net.
Lee Hunt did his best to reduce the deficit 3 minutes later, as he ran on to a high ball in the gap penalty area, however his first touch took the ball away from him, and he was unable to get a shot away.
There was nearly another ex Bala Town player on the score sheet in 56th minute, as Ricky Evans got a free header from a Ryan Edwards cross, however he saw his effort go narrowly wide of the target.
The 63rd minute saw a long ball land at the feet of Hayes, who went past Stuart Jones to get one-one one with Morris, but the keeper was able to make a save. The danger was not over though, as the visitors gathered the ball again after Bala cleared it, and it found its way back to Hayes, who smashed the ball into the top corner of the net to make the score 4-1. Hayes completed his hat-trick in the 70th minute, as he got the better of Stuart Jones again before shooting the ball into the roof of the net.
Bala were given the opportunity to cut the gap a minute later, as Lee Hunt was brought down in the penalty area. Hunt stepped up to take the spot kick, and he placed the ball into the corner of the net, as Rushton stayed rooted to the centre of his goal.
With just over ten minutes left on the clock, Hayes showed that he is human, as he collected the ball from Edwards, and he hit the side netting as Morris charged towards him. However Hayes showed that he wasn’t content with just 3 goals, as he chased what appeared to be a lost cause in the Bala penalty area, before poking the ball home for his fourth goal of the match to make the score 6-2.
With three minutes left Bala substitute Mark Connolly had the opportunity to get a consolation goal for the Lakesiders as took a free kick on the edge of the box. The shot had Rushton beaten all ends up, and looked in all the way, but the ball hit the underside of the crossbar, and went away from goal.
Bala did pull a late goal back though, as they sent a 92nd minute corner in the Nomads penalty area, where Stuart Jones was able to get a free header to score, and make the final score 6-3.
Match photo courtesy of Evan L. Dobson