Our historic European adventure came to a close on Thursday evening (17/09/20) in the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.
A historic European adventure for the Lakesiders came to its climax in Belgium when the Town faced off against Belgian giants in Standard Liege.
The match started with a flash of chances for both sides, Standard coming close in the first minute with a close range effort which was saved by Ramsay. Only 30 seconds later, Raul called the Standard keeper into action, with a shot on the turn inside the box, however the keeper saves well with his foot.
The Lakesiders were put on the back foot for a short period, as Ramsay again was called into action as a deflected shot nearly wrong footed our number one, yet he recovered well to pounce on the ball.
Colin Caton’s game plan was well executed throughout the opening 10 minutes, with a lot of defending, but also creating chances down the other end, this time through Will who made a driving run down the wing, came back inside and made the keeper work with a fierce left footed strike which won Bala a corner.
Standard had a penalty shout just after 10 minutes, however the attempt at fooling the ref didn’t go to plan as the ref waved play on.
Sean Smith wasn’t taking no prisoners on 15 minute mark, as he left a hefty challenge on a Standard player with the ref deeming it a clean tackle.
More defending from Sean and Will who made a succession of blocks to stop the cross into the box and then clearing any danger.
Just before the 20 minute mark, Standard were given a penalty, this time the linesman took the decision into his own hands and assisted the ref to give a penalty. Avenatti stepped up to take the pen, and he converted the penalty down to Ramsay’s right hand side. 1-0 to Standard, with encouraging signs from Bala that they could grab a goal.
Ramsay was called into action again, as a curling shot from the edge of the box looked to be going in, however Ramsay leaped into the air and pushed the ball away from his goal.
Minutes before the half hour mark… The Lakesiders were awarded a penalty! Venables had beaten the defender leaving him in the dust, however the defender tracked back and tangled legs with our Captain, with the referee pointing to the spot. Venables stepped up to take the penalty… the keeper got down far to his right and saved the penalty, pushing it past the post for a corner.
Following the missed penalty, an abudance of attacks came from Standard, with one pushing them into a 2-0 lead. A left footed long range strike which seemed to be going past the post was deflected into the path of the goal, with Ramsay scrambling across to try and make the save, yet the ball squirmed past Ramsay with 10 minutes to go until half time with Standard 2-0 up.
The Lakesiders were still giving it their all, with brilliant dribbling from Lassana Mendes right by the corner flag, and won a corner following his cross into the box.
The ref called for half time with Standard two goals to the good, although a spirited first half performance from the Lakesiders showed promising signs for the second half.
The second half got underway with Standard pushing early on for another goal.
Sean Smith picked up a yellow card following a harsh challenge on the Standard full-back.
Ramsay was alert to another curling shot on goal, with our keeper pushing the ball away from danger.
On the hour mark, Raul Correia was substituted for Kieran Smith.
Bala attempted at pulling a goal back with a few decent attacks, however there was no breakthrough for a shot on goal.
Antony Kay was then booked for a late foul on a Standard player.
Ramsay went down clutching his thigh in the 70th minute, as he had treatment, Colin could get messages across to the players for the last 20 minutes of the game.
Standard could have had a third after some pinball in the box between the Bala defenders and Standard attackers, yet Bala were able to clear the ball out of danger.
Lassana Mendes was at it again, this time managing to dribble past three Standard players then winning a throw in on the half way line.
Ramsay again was alert to a long range effort from Standard, which he catched easily.
With 10 minutes left, Henry Jones and Anthony Stephens replaced Steve Leslie and Antony Kay.
Henry came on and straight away got into the action, with some brilliant dribbling on the edge of the Standard box, and won a free kick in a good area. Henry took the resulting free kick, with his effort going over the wall but the keeper was equal to it.
90 minutes was played, as the 4th official held up three minutes of added time at the end of the game. Bala had one more opportunity to find a goal back, with Henry Jones standing over another free kick, however this time we whipped it into the front post, and was cleared away by Standard.
The final whistle went, with the Lakesiders exiting the UEFA Europa League by the hands of Standard Liege. A hard fought and spirited battle by the Lakesiders against top opposition wasn’t enough to progress into the next round, however the performance earned the respect of the opposition, knowing they had been in a battle against the Lakesiders.
To put the performance into context, Standard Liege competed in last years edition of the Europa League and made it into the group stages facing Arsenal, Vitoria SC and Eintracht Frankfurt, with them drawing 2-2 against Arsenal at home. The Lakesiders gave a good account of themselves and are proud of their performance, with focus now on the JD Cymru League campaign with Cefn Druids coming to Maes Tegid on Sunday 20th of September.