A comfortable 2-0 Derby day win over Caernarfon sealed the Lakesiders 2nd place and European qualification at The Oval.
The victory secured a Championship Conference double over the Cofis thanks to goals by Dean Ebbe and Will Evans. The three points obtained mean Bala clinch 2nd place ahead of Saturday's final game of the season, confirming our place in Europe for a third campaign in a row.
Caernarfon forced into an early change
A few minutes into the game the Cofis were struck with an early setback as Josef Faux was forced off the field with an injury. The midfielder had previously caused the Lakesiders some trouble representing both Cefn Druids and Caernarfon this season. Bobby Beaumont was his replacement just seven minutes into proceedings at The Oval.
The Lakesiders looked the better side during the early stages but were unable to create any chances of note to show for it. The closest Bala came to testing Jakub Orzynski was through Dave Edwards as he looked to catch Caernarfon's defence napping with a long ball towards Paul Rutherford before the Polish goalkeeper was able to snuff out the danger. The Bala backline did have to defend at stages yet Alex Ramsay was also kept at bay with Nathan Peate able to make a couple of crucial challenges.
Ebbe denied from close range
We went closest to breaking the deadlock through Ebbe when he flicked on a cross that Orzynski was quick to react to before a rebound struck by Sean Smith failed to hit the target.
Down the other end, on the stroke of half-time, came Caenarfon's best chance of the half. A corner whipped into the proximity of Ramsay's six-yard box, asking for a Cofi player to attack it, was unmet with half-time seeing both sides level.
Evans heads us in front!
There was only one man that could put us ahead at The Oval, and his moment came in the 55th minute. Evans latching onto a cross into the far post by Rutherford to head home the opener easing some pressure on the Lakesiders who knew a Derby day win would all but secure our place in Europe.
Caernarfon had an opportunity to make an instant response through their target man Mike Hayes. The ball fell kindly to the former Lakesider yet he was unable to make the most of the opportunity as his hesitation saw his shot blocked.
Super Dean Ebbe makes it two!
Edwards looked to cut open the Caernarfon defence once more with 15 minutes left on the clock. His ball was found by Ebbe who grabbed his fourth goal against the Cofis this campaign when he slotted home underneath the keeper a second for Bala.
From bad to worse for Caernarfon...
Frustration grew within the Caernarfon camp as they felt everything was going against them on Derby day. This led to Aaron Simpson making a reckless challenge on Brad Bauress leaving our requiring treatment. The Cofi was sent off for his unnecessary tackle with Caernarfon facing an uphill challenge if they were to pull off a miraculous comeback with ten minutes remaining.
Evans looked to add further misery for Caernarfon with his drilled effort late on. Yet the post was there to deny the winger a second brace at The Oval following his heroics representing Wales' C squad.
With Newtown falling to a 2-0 defeat to TNS, the Lakesiders had done enough to seal second when the final whistle blew. A brilliant victory over our rivals to secure a place in next season's Europa Conference League first qualifying round in a competitive Cymru Premier season.
A celebratory day is expected at Maes Tegid in our final game of the season as we face Penybont this Saturday, April 23rd with kick-off set for 12:30pm.
Bala Town - Alex Ramsay, Sean Smith, Antony Kay, Nathan Peate, Oliver Southern, Ollie Shannon, Lassana Mendes, Paul Rutherford, Dave Edwards, Will Evans, Dean Ebbe
Caernarfon Town - Jakub Ojrzynski, Iwan Cartwright, Gruffydd Williams, Dion Donohue, Aaron Simpson, Sion Bradey, Daniel Gosset, Darren Thomas, Ryan Williams, Josef Faux, Mike Hayes
Bala Town - Brad Bauress > Paul Rutherford (78), Anthony Stephens > Sean Smith (91), Johny Spittle > Oliver Southern (91)
Caernarfon Town - Bobby Beaumont > Josef Faux (8), Laurie Bell > Daniel Gosset (46), Cai Jones > Ryan Williams (46), Aled Williams > Darren Thomas (87), Fabrizio Murtas > Sion Bradley (87)