CLUB captain Chris Venables says there is a real ‘togetherness’ in the Bala Town squad early on in the 2020/21 JD Cymru Premier Season.

Following the Lakesiders’ 1-1 draw in the re-scheduled fixture against The New Saints at Maes Tegid on Saturday, the club currently sit in second place in the table, five points behind The Saints.

Venables scored his eleventh goal of the campaign in that encounter and is so far the only player to have hit double figures this season.

Speaking to the Denbighshire Free Press, the 35-year-old attacker said the team is ‘in a good place’ at the moment.

Denbighshire Free Press:

PIC: Bala Town FC.

Venables (above) said: “The season so far has gone relatively well, we have performed well in certain matches and could have performed better in others but we are competing well and improving, so the club is in a good place at the moment in my opinion.

“It’s still early days as the season goes, but the highlight for me is how we are developing as a squad and the sense of togetherness we are developing as well.

"Our new signings have settled in fantastically well, both on the field and in the changing room, we now have a great squad of players and there is real competition for places in every position which is great.

"Playing alongside the likes of Will Evans has been a pleasure so far. We’ve struck up a great relationship on the pitch and his energy, positivity and attitude are spot on, he’s been a great addition to the team and this can also be said for others we have brought in and retained this season also."

Since joining Bala Town in 2016, Venables has scored 60 league goals in 118 starts and has also taken on the captain’s armband.

By now, he’s in his 17th season in Wales’ top flight, having previously played for Welshpool, Caersws, Aberystwyth Town and Llanelli, racking up more than 400 appearances and nearly 200 goals for all clubs in total.

Speaking on what it means to be captain of the Lakesiders, Venables said: "It’s a role I really enjoy and one that I am extremely proud to be doing and it's an important job. I’d play in the same way with the same application and approach to games whether I was captain or not, but being able to lead out the set of lads we have for such a great club will always be an honour for me."

22 goals in 26 league matches for Bala Town last season saw Venables scoop his fourth JD Cymru Premier Golden Boot, having previously won three in a row for Aber between 2013 and 2016.

Only Penybont manager Rhys Griffiths has more. He is the top-flight’s Golden Boot record-holder, having won seven consecutively for Llanelli between 2005 and 2012.

Speaking on winning his fourth in 2019/20, Venables said: “It felt great. Having made the move further forward to play as a number nine, it was great to be able to provide a good number of goals for the team and justify the decision.

“To catch Rhys Griffiths tally of 7 golden boots is not on my radar to be honest, I’m a million miles away from it and it’s a tally I don’t think anybody will reach ever again.

Venables' first two of elevens goals during the current season came in the 5-1 at Penybont. Recalling that moment, he said: "As a forward, you are always looking for a fast and strong start to a season, but I wasn’t at the point where I had a weight on my shoulders. it was still relatively early on in the season so it was great to get off the mark when I did."

Bala Town were the talk of Wales at the start of the 2020/21 season, when they beat Valletta 1-0 in Malta in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.

Denbighshire Free Press:

Venables in action against Valletta. PIC: Gareth Hughes.

The Lakesiders picked up their first ever European away win that night and advanced to the second round for the first time in the club's 140-year history.

Venables was the hero on that night at the Centenary Stadium too as he scored the only goal of the game. That was a moment he now regards as a career highlight.

He said: "The win in Valletta in the Europa league this year was certainly one of the highlights of my career. We were so desperate as a group and as a club to progress this year so to finally achieve our goal was so satisfying. Obviously one of my main jobs for the team is to put the ball in the net so to manage do to this on such an occasion and the goal be so pivotal was great for me personally."

The next round brought about a spirited 2-0 defeat at the home of Belgian giants Standard Liege. In that tie, Venables missed a penalty when his side were 1-0 down.

Asked about how he bounces back from a moment like that and discussing the match in general, he replied: "The standard game was a huge game and occasion for us and we were really determined to go and give a good account of ourselves.

"It was disappointing on a personal note that I had my penalty saved, but it’s not the first one I’ve missed and it won’t be last and I’m mindful of this when taking penalties. Sometimes in games you miss chances you should score and often you score chances you may not expect to, it all balances out in the end."

So far this season, only one team has managed to beat Bala Town in their opening ten JD Cymru Premier matches - and that's Haverfordwest County. They beat Colin Caton's side 2-1 at Maes Tegid in early October before holding them to a 1-1 draw at the end of that month.

Speaking on the impact the Bluebirds have made since being promoted back to the top-flight ahead of this season, Venables said: "Haverfordwest proved to be very difficult opponents for us, they seem to have a great togetherness as a squad and are led by a very good manager in Wayne Jones. They defend resolutely and are dangerous in attack, I’m sure they will cause a lot of teams problems this season."

Venables closed the interview with the Free Press by stating his targets for his club come the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

He said: "My hopes for Bala this season are for us to fulfil our potential as a team, if we do this we will have a great season."