A cool finish from Mike Hayes proved to be the difference as Bala Town claimed a hard-fought win against Barry Town United at Jenner Park on Saturday. The victory means that Bala will enter phase two in fourth, whilst Barry will have to settle for the Relegation Conference, as they end phase one in ninth.
Nathan Burke had the first chance of the game for Bala after the ball failed to him from a failed clearance, however the midfielder got underneath the ball and blazed his effort over the crossbar.
Barry had a good chance in the ninth minute when Callum Sainty found space and whipped a low ball in from the left, Kayne McLaggon was unable to get the required contact and Ash Morris was able to gather.
Bala had more possession in the opening 15 minutes, but it was Barry who were looking more threatening when they had the ball, moving it quickly and regularly getting into Bala’s final third.
Burke saw his looped header cleared off the line in the 17th minute, he did well to manufacture the chance and Barry did well to get back and clear the danger.
The Lakesiders’ Les Davies had a shot in the 27th minute, he connected well but saw his effort fly wide of the right post.
The chances continued to come for Bala, and Stuart Jones should have scored in the 29th minute; he possibly wasn’t expecting the ball to fall to him, but he would have expected to do better.
Barry’s Jordan Cotterill picked up the game’s first yellow card, and Bala were awarded an in-direct free-kick from just outside the box. The ball was passed back, and the shot went wide of the left post.
Tyrrell Webbe was the bright spark for the Linnets in the first half, he showed his strength to win numerous duels, and also displayed his pace when he was required to carry the ball forward.
Cotterill had the first shot on goal in the second period, his effort from 20 yards out was comfortably gathered by Morris.
The home side had a great chance to score in the 54th minute – Drew Fahiya found space in the box, got around Lewis Short and fired the ball across the box, just missing Callum Sainty. The ball fell to Cotterill from the rebound, but he didn’t get the right contact and saw the shot go wide of the right post.
Luke Cooper went close for Barry in the 60th minute, when he met Chris Hugh’s free-kick with his head and the ball went just over the bar.
Jordan Evans replaced Burke moments later. This was to prove to be a turning point in the game.
Mike Hayes struck the game-winning goal in the 65th minute; Cooper gave the ball away upfield, which allowed Bala to break quickly down field, a tackle on Evans put Hayes in, he took the ball around Massaro and slotted home.
The goal-scorer Hayes claimed a penalty after he broke into the box and went down, the referee waved away his protests.
The substitute Evans was proving to be a handful for Barry, and he broke down the middle in the 75th minute, delayed his pass to Hayes, put him into space and the Bala number nine saw his curling effort cannon off the cross bar.
The Lakesider’s captain Chris Venables was cautioned in the 77th minute for cynically holding back Webbe to prevent him from getting forward.
The home side thought they’d equalised in the 85th minute, when Cooper won an aerial duel and put a great ball in from the right which McLaggon met with his head and somehow managed to put wide of the right post.
This was to be the final chance of note, and Bala held on to give manager Colin Caton the perfect gift in his 600th game in charge.