Town errors come at a price as Tre Fiori take advantage into second leg.
Thursday evening saw the start of the 2018/19 Europa League campaign with the Lakesiders in Forli, Italy to take on San Marino’s Tre Fiori.
Town came flying out of the blocks and saw plenty of the ball in the first five minutes.
Andy Mangan who was making his first appearance in European competitions had a superb effort with 6 minutes played when he scuffed his inital chance from 7 yards and then saw his follow-up shot saved by Pizzolato.
However, Bala fell behind with only a minute later when the home side broke quickly when a foul wasn’t awarded for Mangan, with defender Anthony Miley sending a backpass towards goalkeeper Ashley Morris to clear but a misjudgment in communication saw the ball trickle into the back of the net.
The Lakesiders didn’t let their heads go down as they looked for an away goal. They had a chance to level on 12 minutes when Tames’ chance flashed across the face of goal after successive corners.
Bala were applying plenty of pressure, Stuart Jones came close on 16 minutes when his header flew narrowly over the crossbar.
Pizzolato in the Tre Fiori net was having a superb match (with a man of the match display) as he came to collect Town’s continuous deliveries into the box as they looked to level.
Tames laid the ball off to Kieran Smith who saw his low strike saved prior to the home side doubling their lead.
A throughball by Fiori opened up the Town defence and when Ashley Morris came off his line to the edge of the box, his clearance fell into the path of Pracucci who had the simple task of slotting home into an empty net from around 25 yards.
It got worse for the Lakesiders as they suffered another blow on 36 minutes when Vasallo’s effort from outside the area took a deflection and looped over Morris in the Town goal and giving Bala plenty to think about during the halftime interval.
As if we hadn’t had enough drama in the first half, there was more to follow as after 9 minutes of play, the stadium fell into darkness as the floodlights failed and we were faced with a 30 minute delay to get them back up and running.
When play finally resumed, Bala continued to see plenty of the ball and try their hardest to get back into the game.
Substitute Ian Sheridan’s chance from distance looped over the far post before Town had a handball shout in the penalty area but saw it waved away.
Kieran Smith saw his opportunity blocked before Tre Fiori had a massive chance to make it 4 when the player turned Jones but fired wide with Morris to beat.
10 minutes from time Pracucci was sent for an early shower when he received a second yellow and was sent off.
In injury time, Hayes was fouled in the box but the penalty claim waved away but Bala had the best opportunity of the game a minute from the end when Chris Venables’ shot rattled the bar and was cleared away.
A disappointing evening for the Lakesiders who have a mountain to climb ahead of next week’s second leg. However there is plenty to play for and enough belief in the camp to get a result in Rhyl.
Make sure you are there on Thursday night to support the Lakesiders and get behind the boys!
Match photos by Naomi Jones – full gallery on facebook
Match highlights – watch here