A win on the night for Town but not enough to progress in the Europa League.
It was heartbreak for the Lakesiders on Thursday evening as after a dominant performance and a win under their belts, it wasn’t enough for them to continue into the First Qualifying Round of the Europa League.
The Lakesiders burst out of the blocks with an all new attacking formation for the second leg and the aim was clear from the outset – get back into the tie!
Town’s tempo was high throughout – Burke came close with 5 minutes played before a Tre Fiori freekick was blasted over by Vassallo.
Bala were building pressure as they carved open the Tre Fiori midfield with Burns’ ball in arriving to Kieran Smith who flicked in on to Sheridan who struck it inches wide.
Venables and Sean Smith combined minutes later but couldn’t capitalise on the effort before down the other end Ashley Morris made a stunning save to deny Vassallo.
Pizzolato was called into action after half an hour when a Bala freekick was gathered but he dropped the ball which allowed Stuart Jones to go for the loose ball but he was penalised.
Bala were having waves and waves of pressure and should’ve taken the lead on 33 minutes when Smith’s cross in came to Venables but his final ball fizzed across the face of goal.
Sheridan’s delivery into the box wasn’t capitalised upon before a box to box run from Sean Smith arrived to Sheridan unmarked but he couldn’t get a clean connection on the ball just before the interval.
Bala’s second half performance was even better as they dominated the play at Belle Vue.
However Bala’s attempts of keeping the tempo took a blow only minutes into the half as Tre Fiori had a flurry of three long injury stoppages within a five minute spell which eventually reflected in the 7 minute injury time at the end of the game.
Tames replaced Mangan and was straight into the action as he went up against Pizzolato but committed a foul on the shotstopper in a 50-50 challenge.
Bala’s pressure was mounting with an almighty scramble in the area on 65 minutes which was hacked away before another minutes later with Burke seeing his strike blocked.
Fiori countered with Vassallo heading wide with 20 minutes of the second half played.
Venables curled over from a freekick on the edge of the D before another massive opportunity saw Venables’ ball come off the far post.
On 77 minutes, Bala got their rewards (finally!). A fantastic classy backheel from Tames was laid off to Burke who scuffed the ball from around 14 yards into the back of the net, sending the Town faithful into mass celebrations!
Bala’s confidence was rocketing with Sean Smith seeing his low strike blocked before a powerful strike from Andy Burns flew into the face of a centre half.
Town almost made it 2-0 when Steven Tames had the ball in the back of the net but was adjudged to be offside by the linesman.
With the game coming to a close, the lads kept digging deep but it was too little too late with the damage from last Thursday proving to be extremely costly.
The lads couldn’t have given anymore – their effort, workrate and determination was faultless from start to finish tonight. We now look ahead to hopefully a successful 2018/19 WPL campaign with the season starting all over again in the middle of August.
Photos by Naomi Jones – full gallery on Facebook