ALL good things must come to an end.
Bala Town’s unbeaten run of 10 matches came to an abrupt end on Friday night as a lively Llandudno outfit came back from a 1-0 interval deficit to seal a 3-2 win following a shaky six-minute spell from the Lakesiders.
A game that was dubbed as the most important fixture of the season lived up to the hype, with two teams challenging for European places involved in a high intensity 90 minutes, which was a brilliant advert for the Welsh Premier League.
However, that will be no consolation to the Lakesiders, whose missed chances proved costly.
Hosts Llandudno started brightly with their quick play, but it was Town who took the lead after only five minutes of play.
Great work from Kieran Smith saw him dance through the defence and squeeze a pass towards Mike Hayes, who turned the ball in on the turn at the back post.
The ball took a slight deflection off the base of the post on its way into the net.
With the play at such a high tempo, Bala were forced to work hard to close down the home side, but they were still able to create chances on goal as they looked to extend their lead.
Mark Connolly sliced a shot from distance low and wide, while Kieran Smith’s through ball was turned away by a Tudno defender with Connolly through on goal.
Soon after, two successive crosses were headed away by the Llandudno backline.
Town won a free kick on the left flank after David Thompson was fouled, but the Bala forwards failed to gamble when the set piece was delivered into the box.
This was followed by a counter-attack from the home side down the wing and a teasing cross into the area flashed along the face of the goal before eventually going out for a goal kick.
Smith tested Roberts with a drive from the edge of the 18-yard box prior to Thompson being called upon down the other end with a brilliantly timed last-ditch tackle to deny Danny Hughes from Jamie Reed’s flick on.
With half-time edging closer, the chances continued with a slick one-two between Smith and Connolly seeing the latter head over the crossbar from 10 yards out and a minute later, Connolly saw his shot take a deflection from inside the six-yard box.
The league’s top scorer Marc Williams drove a volley towards Ashley Morris’ net, but luckily for the away side it dipped just shy of the far upright on the half-time whistle.
The second half saw Llandudno crank up the pressure and it was a half where they dominated things in terms of possession.
The forward line of Williams and Reed, who had looked threatening in the first half, came out in the second period with far more intent.
Bala still posed a threat and Nathan Burke floated an early ball into the area, but it was slightly overhit for the incoming Ian Sheridan.
Minutes later, a decent spell of play from the Lakesiders saw Burke flick his header inches over the woodwork.
Sheridan and Mike Hayes combined with the latter managing to pounce on a rebounded shot, but Dave Roberts regathered the ball.
Hayes then saw his shot from 12 yards being blocked as it lacked the height to lob the keeper.
Meanwhile, a Llandudno free kick was solidly blocked by the Bala wall with Town’s counter attack leading to Hayes gambling and forcing Roberts to clear uncertainly.
Soon after, Connolly made way for Lee Hunt and as the action continued, substitute Lewis Buckley put a chance over as Llandudno started to build some pressure.
This spell paid off on 70 minutes when an initial corner was cleared by Town, but Lee Thomas looped the ball back in for Danny Shaw to bundle the ball over the line from close range.
It went from bad to worse for Bala and from the restart, Llandudno won a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard box.
James Joyce stepped up and perfectly dispatched an effort into the top corner of the net with Ashley Morris not moving from his spot.
If that wasn’t bad enough for Bala, Llandudno were celebrating once again after 76 minutes.
Jamie Reed made it 3-1 when Buckley’s ball was misjudged by Anthony Stephens, allowing the former York City frontman to pounce and lob over Morris.
Time was running out for the Lakesiders to try and start a comeback, but they had a glimmer of hope in the 90th minute when Lee Hunt crashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range after a goalmouth scramble.
There were four minutes of added time for Bala in their efforts to get back on level terms.
An acute volley from Sheridan was agonisingly close, but Bala couldn’t find a leveller.
It was a disappointing evening for the Lakesiders, who played some wonderful stuff in patches, but a six-minute rampage from the home side brought Town’s unbeaten run to an end.
Things are very interesting in the race for Europa League qualification, with Bala and Llandudno now level on 45 points.
See full story in the Free Press