Aber Town’s Welsh Cup journey ended at Park Avenue as Bala won by the tightest of tight margins, with sub Iwan Roberts’ 79th minute winner proving decisive in a competitive game which looked destined for penalties.
Aberystwyth Town 0 Bala Town 1, JD Welsh Cup
On an overcast November afternoon schoolchildren from Ysgol Llanilar were the visiting mascots for the day, although a lively pre match atmosphere was halted for the last post and a minute’s silence in Remembrance of the victims of both world wars, immaculately observed.
The match started at high tempo and Aber had to match their combative and physical opponents, which they did impressively.
Mark Cadwallader saw a deft flick saved by Kelland Absalom in Bala’s goal, then at the other end Dave Jones made a comfortable save to prevent Nathan Peate’s header reaching the top corner.
Town’s back four of Akeem Hinds, Harry Owen, Louis Bradford and Ben Woollam were particularly impressive, restricting last year’s Welsh Cup finalists to half chances, such as Paulo Mendes’ right footed volley which flew over.
John Owen strode through the middle and aimed a shot just wide, then at the other end Josh Ukek brought out a brilliant left handed save from Jones to keep the scores level.
Liam Walsh, buzzing around in midfield, saw a curling volley saved by Absalom, then Woollam sent in a free kick which Harry Owen kneed past the post.
Nathan Burke was next to be denied by Jones, and an extremely good watch of a first half ended goalless.
Peate headed Burke’s corner wide at the start of the second half, and Ukek also nodded harmlessly wide soon afterwards, then Burke himself fired wide and Dave Jones saved Ukek’s glancing header, with Bala threatening.
In a game of set pieces Peate again headed wide, then Anthony Williams made a triple substitution up front, and Aber earned some set pieces which were repelled by the visiting back four.
Walsh sent in a nice right wing cross which was caught by Absalom, but then came the key moment as livewire visiting sub Roberts found some space down the right wing and slipped a low shot under Jones for a killer strike.
This was the trigger for Aber to surge forward and dominate the last 10 minutes. Woollam sent in a cross which Bradford headed goalbound, but Absalom saved the ball right on the line.
With five minutes to go Luca Hogan surged down the left but his low shot was saved by the busy Bala netminder.
Woollam thwacked a low shot from distance which once again reached the goal line before Absalom could save, then in injury time Alex Darlington sent in a cute cross which Walsh nodded to Absalom, and Bala had held on for victory in a close, close game.
Despite the result fans will have noticed that Aber are vastly improved and playing at a higher level than earlier in the season.
The teams will go head to head again at Park Avenue on Friday evening in a JD Cymru Premier encounter kicking off at 8pm.