Are Bala the best bet to rival TNS?
After their spirited performance against the Champions on Saturday, it is looking like Bala could be the team that could rival The New Saints next season for the title.
Of course a gap of 23 points may show the level of dominance TNS have, but to only lose by the one-goal could be a platform for the Lakesiders to build on for next season.
The set up at Bala is fairly impressive, not long ago the club were in the Huws Gray Alliance, but the rise through the leagues has seen Bala end up as a competitive Welsh Premier League outfit. The club made some noise this summer, with the impressive capture of WPL stalwart Chris Venables evidence of their progress, an attacking midfielder who has added a new dimension to the Bala attack.
Individually, Bala are up there with the best as Mike Hayes stands as one of the most prolific strikers in the league this season, with 13 goals this term already.
Respectable results against Swedish professional side AIK could also be used as a yard stick, to show that they can compete with sides of a similar ilk to The New Saints.
In the three games that Bala and The New Saints have played out, it has been a 5-1 away defeat, a 2-0 home defeat and a 3-2 away defeat, with the final fixture of the four part special coming on the final day of Phase Two. Those results of course are all defeats but bar the 5-1 defeat, it shows Bala aren’t too far off TNS.
The Lakesiders look to have shaken off their early season struggles, with impressive results against Bangor and co in recent weeks. With a Welsh Cup semi-final also on the horizon in the next few weeks for Bala, it is important that they continue what they’ve been doing.
The task at hand for the remainder of the season will be for the club to wrap up that automatic Europa League qualifying spot, with the Nomads and Bangor City hot on their tails, but if they were to complete the job in hand, it could instill belief into Colin Caton’s men.
A second placed finish in the league would almost certainly secure a second season in the Scottish League Cup for the Gwynedd based side as well, a chance for them to showcase the quality of football played at Maes Tegid, as well as righting the wrongs of the defeat against Alloa in this campaign.
The target for next season for Bala, as well as many other sides, will be to challenge the league leaders and to upset the apple cart. The New Saints have set the standard for the league and Bala will be hoping to bridge that gap with the quality they possess.
PHOTO BELONGS TO NOMI FFLUR AND BALA TOWN