Second half comeback from Lakesiders sees Town jump up to 2nd
For the second game in succession, Bala needed to come back from 1-0 at halftime to secure the three points.
With the game played at Airbus as Maes Tegid was waterlogged, Haverfordwest had the wind behind them for the first half and much to their credit, didn’t play like a side who are bottom of the WPL.
The visitors began with intent causing early problems for the Lakesiders to deal with. A good ball in from the wing was half cleared by Stephens before the rebound was saved by Morris.
Bala started to settle after some early pressure with a move starting from Smith linking with Sheridan and Thompson led to the opportunity being saved by the Haverfordwest shotstopper.
It was the visitors who took the lead after quarter of an hour when a half chance wasn’t cleared by Smith fell to Howard on the edge of the D and was sweetly struck first time into the bottom corner.
Bala tried to hit back with Lee Hunt who was celebrating his 100th Bala Town game seeing two headers saves before Morris was forced to palm away Jones’ freekick.
Down the other end Bala’s Morris was then called into action when he was forced into saving but Walters followed up but rattled the post.
Borrelli was next to test but his cross flashed across the face of goal before Kieran Smith’s looping header went inches over the woodwork.
Before the interval Mike Hayes’ cross was headed wide with Bala now having a bit of work to do in the second half.
The work they had to do doubled a few minutes into the second half as Haverfordwest made it 2-0 as Walters drove in a shot into the bottom corner after Bala failed to clear.
Town had a mountain to climb but they dug deep and showed plenty of character to get back into the game after looking dead and buried.
Hayes won the ball on the wing and drove powerfully forward to win a corner, from the resulting kick Stuart Jones connected well onto Jones’ delivery but rattled the crossbar.
Minutes later Bala got a goal back when Valentine slotted through Hayes who sprung towards the by-line to blast a ball in from an acute angle which wormed in over the line.
Bala’s confidence was growing with Smith missing a golden opportunity to bring the game level after flicking over Hunt’s cross from 5 yards. Valentine was next up, sending a freekick just over from 18 yards out.
As the weather deteriorated, Bala were falling more into their usual stride with another chance having to be headed clear.
Hayes latched on brilliantly to a defence splitting ball from midfield firing a lob over Morris but the keeper backtracked quickly to save. Hayes again was fed through by Jones but his shot lacked power with Bala with their tails up.
Smith rattled the bar with a spectacular effort before the next movement of play was only half cleared as Bala looked as if they were going to equalise at any time.
And so they did on 75 minutes as a scramble in the box took a deflection off Sam Rodon’s head and looped over the keeper to bring Bala back on to level terms.
The Bala faithful would’ve been content with a point after the disappointing first half but the Town players weren’t as they continued to drive forward looking for a winning goal.
A Valentine deep cross arrived at Sheridan’s feet around 4 yards out to side foot the shot but saw it hit the post, but with so much momentum behind the strike it ricocheted towards Morris and bounced over the line making it 3-2 to the Lakesiders.
With the comeback complete Bala had five minutes remaining to keep hold of their lead but continued to press forward looking to add to their tally.
A last minute pinpoint cross from Smith after nutmegging the defender but no Town players could get to the teasing cross in time.
Determination, character and a great advert from the WPL in atrocious wet conditions sending the Lakesiders up to 2nd in the table with one game left to play prior to the league split.
A massive thank you to Airbus for stepping in and being our temporary home for the afternoon and for all their help. Safe journey home to Haverfordwest.
Match photos by Arwel Jones