Date: Sat 23 Feb 2013

Bala continue excellent run with Lido Win

Marc Connolly scored the second goal

Marc Connolly scored the second goal

An early and late goal in each half from Lee Hunt and Mark Connolly, maintained the Lakesider’s excellent run of form, as they underlined their intentions to seek play-off qualification for next season’s Europa League for a second successive time. (reports Robert Clement).

Having registered a recent 3-1 victory against Aberystwyth Town, Bala were unchanged following that outcome at Park Avenue. Meanwhile with Afan Lido having gained three valuable points at Llanelli, with goals from Chris Hartland and Luke Borrelli, there were two changes to the starting line-up, with Anthony Rawlings and Josh Doyle replacing the unavailable Mark Crutch, and Australia bound Daniel Thomas.

With Bala high on confidence, they made a stunning start when from a Kenny Lunt corner during the opening minute, Hunt clearly displayed an appetite for finding the back of the net, to chalk up his thirteenth league goal, applying a precision header home from four yards.

Bala’s strong beginning continued, and four minutes later it was former Aberystwyth Town striker Lewis Codling who brought Kristian Rogers into swift action, with the goalkeeper alert to gather the fiercely struck thirty five yard shot.

The Maes Tegid visitors continued to maintain the upper hand, and when Gareth Phillips conceded a free kick following a late challenge on Mark Jones during the sixth minute, Lunt’s twenty five yard effort flew narrowly over the top of the crossbar.

A surging run down the left side from Ian Sheridan continued to torment the Lido back line, with Rogers being kept on his toes, making a vital near post save.

The Seasider’s eventually showed willingness to go forward, with Rawlings sidestepped a challenge from Stuart Jones to pick out Simon Prangley, but he was unfortunate with his goalbound effort being intercepted by Tony Davies.

Just after the half hour, Bala swiftly advanced forward with Ian Sheridan and Codling probing the Lido defence, and the brisk attacking option saw Mark Jones despatch a fierce drive, which the alert Rogers turned around the upright.

The Lido shot stopper was then immediately in the thick of the action, rising high to claim possession from the resulting corner by Davies.

With three minutes of the first half remaining, Bala were engineering another inspiring threat, when Lunt conjured up another attacking opening for the supporting Sheridan, but the former prolific Airbus (UK) goalscorer despatched his shot straight into the palms of Rogers.

Despite having to absorb Bala’s clearly superior attacking technique, there was a rare option six minutes into the second half for Lido, but it was Hartland whose skilful fluidity saw Ashley Morris make a rare save.

Bala continued to have the appetite and confidence along with momentum and pace to stretch the defence of lowly place Lido, and midway into the second half, it was Mark Jones who sent thumping shot inches wide of the upright from twelve yards.

With three minutes remaining, there was additional reward for the Lakesider’s, when substitute Stephen Brown outwitted and outpaced the Lido defence to set up Connolly, who fired home a forceful shot beyond the reach of the of the overworked Rogers.

With the Gwynydd visitors having maintained their excellent play-off championship campaign with maximum points from their three matches, manager Colin Caton spoke with Welsh Premier League reporter Robert Clement about the outcome, along with the prospect of maintaining the quality run of form.

“It was a fantastic disciplined performance and thoroughly deserved”, responded Caton. “I’m proud of the lads today, at a difficult place to come to and win like they did”.

Caton was then asked if he thought that there was a considerable gap in quality between the two teams, with it being first against sixth in the play-off conference.

“I thought that Kristian Rogers kept Afan Lido in the game, he made a numerous amount of saves in the first half, and two or three great saves in the second half, and whether it was poor finishing or good goalkeeping, we should have gone on and won it a lot more really, but I don’t think that Ashley Morris has had a save to make throughout the game”.

“With us securing three wins in a row, hopefully we’ll try to go undefeated until the end of the season, and try to get to the play-off position; with the way we’ve turned it around, the last few results have been great for everybody”.

Afan Lido team coach Paul Evans responded to his club’s performance, with it being considerably different, especially following the win against Llanelli two weeks ago.

“When you play against experienced players like Lee Hunt, you have to start strongly. They had a game plan today and stuck to it, and obviously we didn’t want to concede early, and what happened is that he had great movement in the box to score with a quality header. It was bad marking by us; we have to take it on the chin, and we then knew that we were up against it from the word go”.

Evans was asked if he was disappointed with the lack of chances created throughout the ninety minutes.

“We got to the final third, and I don’t think that we’ve created any chances bar one possibly in the first half, when their defenders made a block on the edge of the six yard area, and it was certainly very frustrating; we created chances against Llanelli, but today there was a clear lack of opportunities”.

He then commented, having been asked if he was confident of Afan Lido remaining in the Welsh Premiership next season.

“That’s probably the hardest question as well as the most obvious one. Yes, we believe in ourselves along with the ability in the changing room, we’ve got eight games to go with twenty four points available, and that’s our target and nothing less”.

“We’ve got to win every game, there’s quality in the changing room with the players needing to believe in themselves, and start by going to Aberystwyth to gain three points”, he concluded.

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