Bala edge 7 goal thriller

In a top of the table clash it was 1st vs 2nd at Maes Tegid as Bala Town took on Airbus UK Broughton in the FAW U12 Northern Championship.

Bala were ahead within 1 minute of the kick off, Jack Davies get on the end of a good long-ball from Henry Evans and squared the ball for Ifan Jones who was forced to hold the ball up by the Airbus centre-back, Ifan played in Jack who made no mistake and fired into the bottom corner 1-0. Things got even better for the young Lakesiders in the 5th minute as good work from Henry Evans and Sion Jones in the centre of midfield saw them break up an Airbus attack. Henry Evans played a perfect through ball that cut the Airbus defence apart, Ifan Jones got onto the through ball and calmly slotted the ball round the on-rushing keeper 2-0.

Jack Davies forced a good save from the Airbus keeper and debutant Riley Taylor was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet as an Airbus defender just managed to get his foot to the ball and prevent a tap-in. Airbus started to grow into the game and were always a danger on the counter-attack. A superb defensive display from Math Thorp prevented Airbus from having any joy down the middle, with Benjamin Wilson and Gwydion Roberts doing a good job against the Airbus wingers. In the 15th minute Airbus won a corner and took advantage to get themselves back into the game, 2-1.

The goal gave Airbus renewed confidence and they went through a ten minute spell of domination, Math Thorp denied a certain goal with a well-timed tackle and Rhys Jones was called into action with two good saves. Bala looked to have weathered the storm and surged forwards in the 25th minute with Jack Davies playing in Ifan Jones who forced a superb save from the Airbus keeper, corner. A well worked corner routine almost payed off but Airbus just about managed to clear their lines. With 2 minutes to go, Airbus forced another corner and scored a carbon-copy of their first goal, 2-2 at the break.

Hari Roberts replaced Jack Davies at half-time in a tactical change. The first 5 minutes of the second half were a very cagey affair, with both sides being patient in their build up play. However, Hari Roberts won the ball on the right and played a nice ball into midfield for Sion Jones who played a classy one-two with Henry Evans and released Hari Roberts with a great through ball, Hari maintained composure to beat the Airbus centre-back and smash home in the 37th minute, 3-2.

Jack Davies returned to the field to replace the hard working Riley Taylor. Again the impressive Airbus keeper produced a top quality save to deny Ifan Jones and Jack Davies fired narrowly wide. Airbus again began to assert themselves in midfield and countered well, as a Bala attack broke down Airbus surged forwards with purpose and Rhys Jones produced a good save to turn the goalbound shot onto the crossbar. As the game entered the final 10 minutes it was all Airbus as they again hit the crossbar and forced a superb last-ditch tackle from Math Thorp. A mishit clearance gave Airbus yet another corner and again they found the back of the net with a very unlucky deflection off Math Thorp which took the ball past Rhys Jones, 3-3 with 55 of the 60 minutes played.

Bala were not content with settling for a point and went in search of the winner. Henry Evans again spotted the opportunity for a through ball and split the Airbus defence, Hari Roberts got on the end of the through ball and looked certain to score but for another superb save from the Airbus keeper, corner. A good delivery from Henry Evans saw Sion Jones header into the back of an Airbus defender and they again broke with pace, the Airbus winger found himself in a 1v1 with Rhys Jones and fired narrowly wide of the post – much to the relief of all connected to Bala.

With 2 minutes left on the clock the impressive Henry Evans again released Hari Roberts who spun the centre-back and was through on goal. The Airbus centre-back clipped Hari’s heels, tripping him in the area giving the referee no option whatsoever other than to point to the spot – penalty! Up stepped Henry Evans to take the crucial spot-kick. Henry kept his cool and blasted home to win the 3pts.

It was a crucial result today for the boys, to bring out the cliché, it was very much a six-pointer and the win puts us in a good place. I’m delighted Henry showed great composure to score the penalty which was pretty much in the last minute of normal time – especially seeing as he told me after the game he’d missed his last 2 penalties for Corwen!! The 3pts were no less than what the boys deserved, but we didn’t half make things hard for ourselves. The fact we conceded all 3 goals from corners, 1 of which an own goal, says it all.

We know where we need to improve and will do our best to correct those areas. However, it was a good overall team performance and we could have easily let our heads drop after Airbus snatched a late equaliser. We seem to have developed a knack of scoring very late goals – which is obviously a good thing and shows the great character these boys have. We have 3 massive games to go in the Championship and we’re well placed, it is all in our hands which is what we wanted at the start of the competition.

Today’s Man of the Match award has to go to Math Thorp for such a commanding defensive display. Math attacked everything that went near him and saved us at least 1 goal with some well-timed challenges, Math is growing into the role with every game and has developed well all season – da iawn Math!