BALA TOWN’S target for this season will have been to, once again, qualify for the early rounds of the UEFA Europa League and keep the pressure on the JD Cymru Premier’s ‘big two’.

And, as 2020 draws to an end, Colin Caton’s side are certainly on the right path.

The Lakesiders head into their next fixture v Caernarfon Town at home on Boxing Day, having lost just once in the league - which came in a shock 2-1 loss at home to Haverfordwest County in early October.

Their record of ten wins out of 16 matches in the league places them in third in the table - nine points behind league-leaders TNS and six behind Connah’s Quay with a game in hand over the former.

Bala also have the third best defensive record in the division behind those two clubs, having conceded just 16 goals in as many matches. Their number of goals scored in the JD Cymru Premier this season (39) is also second only to TNS’ tally of 49.

The club’s 2020/21 season started off with a historic night in Malta on August 28. Captain Chris Venables scored the only goal of the match as Bala beat Valletta 1-0 and advanced to the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the club’s 140-year history.

Denbighshire Free Press:

The Bala Town side which beat Valletta 1-0 in Malta. PIC: Gareth Hughes.

This was followed up by an impressive performance on the opening day of the 20/21 JD Cymru Premier campaign as they were unlucky not to win when they drew 1-1 at champions Connah’s Quay’s Deeside Stadium on September 12.

Debutante Nathan Peate, who arrived from Cefn Druids in the summer, put Bala ahead in that one but Sameron Singh-Dool’s last-gasp goal rescued a point for the Nomads.

After that came another significant night in Bala’s history as they put in a great shift only to narrowly lose 2-0 to Belgian giants Standard Liege and crash out of the UEFA Europa League - albeit with their heads held high.

Bala’s first league win came on September 20, when goals from Will Evans and Peate once more secured a 2-1 win over Cefn Druids at home.

Midfielder Evans, who arrived from Cardiff Met in the summer, would go on to be one of Bala's, and in fact the whole league's star players of the season.

He followed up his goal v Druids with a brace in a 5-1 win at Penybont (in which captain Venables also scored two and Kieran Smith bagged a goal).

Then came Bala's only league loss so far this season on October 3. Venables had put his side ahead against Haverfordwest County via a penalty in the 23rd minute but Jack Williams equalised on the half-hour mark for the visitors before Jack Wilson secured a shock win in the dying moments of the game.

It was the way that Colin Caton's side bounced back from that defeat that would be important and they did so in style.

Venables and Evans were again important a week later as Bala beat Aberystwyth Town 5-2 at home before Venables scored his first hat-trick of the season in a 4-0 win over Barry Town United on October 14.

A 2-0 win away at Newtown on October 17 was followed up by a 2-1 win at Flint Town United three days later. But, it was Haverfordwest who put an end to the winning streak once more as they held Bala 1-1 on October 31.

A 1-1 draw against league-leaders TNS followed on November 7 in a tie which had to be replayed after a 2-2 draw at an earlier date was postponed due to floodlight failure in the final minutes.

Bala returned to winning aways on November 14 with a resounding 4-1 win over Penybont, courtesy of two own goals, a penalty form Venables and a Will Evans goal.

The Lakesiders then completed the double over Newtown with a 3-1 win on November 27, before consecutive 1-1 draws with Caernarfon Town and Cardiff Met.

They returned to winning ways once more with a tense 2-1 win at Aberystwyth, courtesy of Lassana Mendes and Gary Roberts opening their accounts for the season, before comfortably beating Cardiff Met 4-1 at Maes Tegid in their most recent match which saw Evans score against his former side and Antony Kay score his first goal for the club.

Some frustrating draws and that one disappointing loss aside, it has been a more than satisfactory season for Bala Town so far.

Venables and Evans have been the stars of the show, bagging 15 and 10 goals each respectively.

But others in the side have proved to be highly-influential also.

Antony Kay has brought with him plenty of experience to the side and the likes of Lassana Mendes, Ollie Shannon and Sean Smith never stop working hard for their side. Henry Jones has hit great form of late too adding even more creativity to the side and Steven Leslie is always a threat going forward.

With European football once again well and truly in their hands barring any major hiccups, the question now is; can Bala somehow close the gap between them and the top two to truly challenge for the title any time soon?