Friday 17th November
Aberystwyth Town 1 Bala Town 2
In front of a bumper crowd of 643 at Park Avenue on Friday evening, Aberystwyth Town fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bala Town, as a brace from Mike Hayes was enough to send the lakesiders home with all three points in an entertaining game. Hayes netted his first goal on 52 minutes before doubling the visitors’ lead on 80 minutes. Chris Mullock had kept Town in the game with an astonishing penalty save from Chris Venables, and although a Les Davies own goal pulled Aber back into it in the 86th minute the home side were unable to find the equaliser in the dying seconds.
The visitors started the game strongest, as Chris Venables saw an early goal bound header blocked by Aber’s Matthew Jones before Mike Hayes fired a shot just over the bar. On 14 minutes, Aber created a good opportunity themselves as John Owen back-heeled a lovely ball into the path of Declan Walker, who lobbed the ball just over goalkeeper Ashley Morris’ crossbar. Soon after, Bala went even closer as Chris Mullock made an incredible fingertip save from Chris Venables’ header before smothering the follow up inside the penalty area. The visitors continued to press, but Aber also began to find some joy in attack as Ryan Wade sent an inviting cross into the penalty area, which was cleared for a corner kick by Stuart Jones. From the resulting corner Wade saw his goal bound effort cleared off the line as Bala counted themselves fortunate not to be behind. As half-time approached, the visitors threatened once more as Les Davies rattled the crossbar with a header, before Hayes again sent a left footed drive just over, but it was to remain goalless at the break.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Bala looking the more likely side to open the scoring. On 49 minutes, Aber goalie Mullock was again called into action as first he saved Jordan Evans’ low strike before producing a fantastic full-stretch save to deny Evans just seconds later. However, on 52 minutes the visitors finally broke the deadlock as Evans played in Hayes, who produced a clinical left footed finish to make it 1-0. Just sixty seconds later Aber were almost instantly level as full back Declan Walker fired an outrageous 30-yard effort against the crossbar. Soon after, Town hit the woodwork yet again as the ball fell to captain Jonny Spittle, who turned and volleyed his shot against the outside of the post. The game began to open up as Aber committed more men forwards, with Craig Hobson replacing the industrious Luke Borrelli on 65 minutes to add physical presence up front. As the hosts continued to push for the equaliser, they were caught out on the counter attack as Mike Hayes surged into the penalty area and was brought down, leaving referee Dean John no option but to award a penalty kick. Bala talisman Chris Venables stepped up to take the spot kick, and as he fired the ball towards the top right corner, goalkeeper Chris Mullock dived at full stretch to tip the ball over the crossbar with a simply astounding save. This gave Aber some added hope, but on 80 minutes those hopes were soon dashed as Hayes latched on to a loose ball in the penalty area and fired past the unlucky Mullock to make it 2-0. Town continued to battle and were soon back in the game as Les Davies back headed an Ashley Young throw-in on 84 minutes into his own net to make it 2-1 and hand the hosts a lifeline. Suddenly the visitors were camped in their own half as Aber applied huge pressure on their back line. Ryan Wade fired a shot wide on 86 minutes before sending a header straight at Bala ‘keeper Ashley Morris in the dying seconds, but it wasn’t to be as the referee blew the full-time whistle.
A frustrating night for Nev Powell’s men, who will count themselves unlucky not to have taken a point from the game after twice hitting the woodwork. It must also be said that goalkeeper Chris Mullock kept Aber in the game on more than one occasion with some magnificent saves, in what was a thoroughly entertaining affair at Park Avenue. Town must now look to bounce back with another Friday night game at home to Newtown in the JD Welsh Premier League next week.