It was a frustrating morning for Bala Town Academy U12’s as they drew 2-2 with Rhyl. However the point ensures the Lakesiders remain top of the FAW Northern Championship going into the winter break.
The game started positively for the U12’s as they took the game to Rhyl, with the outstanding Rhyl keeper called into early action to keep out efforts from Ifan Jones and Jack Davies. Huw Evens and Sion Jones were keeping control of the midfield battle and breaking up Rhyl’s attempts to break forward as Math Thorp won the early exchanges with the Rhyl striker. A well worked corner routine left the Rhyl defence frozen but yet again the Rhyl keeper stepped up and made a good one-handed save from a Henry Evans shot.
A positive start turned into a frustrating one as too many chances were wasted and with their first meaningful attack of the game Rhyl broke and forced a corner. From the resulting corner Rhyl claimed a 1-0 lead as the Bala defence failed to deal with the second ball which was smashed home from close-range by the impressive Rhyl centre-mid in the 20th minute. The Rhyl goal prompted a tactical change with Deio Williams replacing Jack Davies. The rest of the half was a scrappy affair in the centre of midfield with Rhyl forcing several chances, a great challenge from Math Thorp and a good reaction save from Rhys Jones meant that the young Lakesiders went in at half-time trailing by 1 goal to nil.
The second half saw the introduction of Hari Roberts for Ifan Jones and the half started in the same fashion as the first. A good through ball from Huw Evens released Hari Roberts who fired wide in the 35th minute, further chances from Henry Evans and Deio Williams also went wide of the post. The Rhyl keeper again made a good save as a well hit Hari Roberts strike was turned round the post. With Bala looking likely to equalise another attack broke down on the right and a good clearance allowed Rhyl to brake and saw them double their advantage as a well hit strike from the edge of the area beat Rhys Jones, 0-2 in the 45th minute.
With the young Lakesiders trailing by 2 goals with 15 to play Jack Davies and Ifan Jones returned to the action with Sion Jones and Gwydion Roberts making way. Hari Roberts had made a real difference to the Bala attack and was unlucky not to score as his shot rattled the Rhyl post and went out for a goal kick. The U12’s had thrown everything at Rhyl for 57 minutes of the 60 and it looked as though it was not to be, but a last ditch Rhyl tackle saw the ball bounce for Deio Williams to tee up Jack Davies who let fly from the edge of the area to make it 1-2 and give Bala a glimmer of hope.
Rhyl looked to keep hold of the ball from the kick-off but Hari Roberts pressed the centre-back into a mistake and nicked the ball to advance through on goal in a 1v1. Hari showed great composure to take the ball round the keeper and tap into the empty net, 2-2 in the 58th minute! Bala went in search of the winner but it was not to be as the ref blew for full
time with 60 minutes of the 60 played.
Considering that we were trailing 2-0 with 3 minutes to play it was a superb comeback in which the boys showed great character to fight back. For the vast majority of the game it looked as though it wasn’t going to be our day at all. Rhyl took their chances well and absorbed all the pressure we put them under and looked set to leave with all 3 points. However, it was a good lesson for the boys in what can happen if you don’t take your chances when on top. We go into the winter break with 7 points from a possible 9 and are top on goal difference. We now have 2 months to prepare for the away trip to Caernarfon and home game vs joint-top Airbus in the 2 games that will define the Championship for us.
Math Thorp takes the man of the match award for a superb defensive display which was capped off by a great tackle on the Rhyl striker just before half-time. Math has really grown into the role this season and continues to develop well, da iawn Math. He was pushed close by Hari Roberts who made a big impact as a second half substitute and Huw Evens who continues to excel in his role in the centre of midfield.