Sunday, 5 May 2013

Bala see off their rivals to go through in play-offs

A Lee Hunt penalty was enough to grab a Europa League play-off first round victory for Bala Town in a plucky encounter with Gap Connah’s Quay.

It was a game of few clear cut chances, but that will matter little to the Lakesiders’ supporters who witnessed their team pick up their third win of the season over their rivals and notch up a phenomenal 11th-straight win since the mid-season split.

The Nomads were again difficult to get the better of, while home ‘keeper Ashley Morris was troubled little in a repeat of the same match and scoreline as the final Phase Two encounter last weekend between the two sides.

The sole score came with quarter of an hour to go. John Hardiker was adjudged to have handled by the officials, and his protests got himself and player-manager Mark McGregor booked. The controversy didn’t put Hunt off his stride though, as he stepped up to send Nomads stopper John Rushton the wrong way.

Both sides perked up a bit after that, and although there was a step up in tempo the score remained the same and Bala were in to the next round.

Who they face next depends on tomorrow's Welsh Cup final.

Bangor City square up with Prestatyn Town in the Welsh Cup final that promises to be real David vs Goliath encounter.

This is because Bangor have a long and successful relationship with Wales’ premier Cup competition, winning it on eight occasions. Along with Cefn Druids, this is the highest tally other than those of Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham.

It will be their 18th appearance in the final, moving them on to the same tally as Swansea, and they will be hoping that their pedigree will count in their favour come tomorrow.

It will be Prestatyn’s first appearance in a Welsh Cup final, and they know they have a real shot at making history at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground.

Both sides are aware that a win will guarantee European competition next season. They both finished the regular season in Europa League play-off slots, and with the Cup winners taking their place in European competition next year, the chance to avoid the end-of-season lottery will have both teams’ eyes on the prize in more ways than one.

Prestatyn boss Lee Jones is looking forward to the chance to build on his side’s recent achievements, although he knows that the second half of this past season has not been a fruitful one for them.

He said: ‘It’s going to be a massive day at the Racecourse - a ground I know well from my four spells with Wrexham.

“Prestatyn have done really well to finish in the top six, although our Phase Two results haven’t been great. We all know that it’s going to be tough against Bangor, who have got an impressive Cup record in recent years, but let’s hope that it’s the underdog’s turn on Monday.”

Bangor manager Neville Powell is not taking anything for granted. He said: “Prestatyn have risen fast and they certainly cannot be underestimated. It is a massive game for our players and victory will mean we do not have to go through the Europa League qualification play-offs.”

The loser will have to compete in the Europa League's play-offs, with the semi-final line-up to be decided once this game has finished.


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