Welsh Cup Round 4: Haverfordwest County 0-4 Bala Town

AFTER a very skilful and well-fought 90-minute contest which would have picked up every credit as a high-quality Welsh Premier match, the Bluebirds were suddenly blasted by a superbly-executed four-goal salvo which sent Bala into the Welsh Cup quarter finals, writes Robert Nisbet.

All commentators agreed that over the 90 minutes the game was well poised between the Bluebirds’ measured approach play and the Lakesiders’ sharp and skilful counter-attacking. The 90 could have ended 1-nil to either side without any sense of injustice.

Many of Bala’s attacks were prompted by their midfielder Henry Jones, probably one of the most accomplished players at present in Welsh domestic football, but he and his attack had to cope with a Bluebirds defence in which Sean Pemberton was once again an immense presence, in which Ricky Watts, Tim Hicks and Leon Luby also competed furiously with a high-power attack, and in which keeper Kyle Stuart pulled off several really stunning saves.

There was great deal happening in the Blues midfield, for the first 90 minutes at least, with Elliot Scotcher, Elliot Thomas and Tom Dyson roaming, probing, and looking to put their forwards in.

Up front Kaid Mohamed produced several really classy breaks while Ben Fawcett and Danny Williams ran and weaved cleverly and dangerously. It really was a very fine all-round team performance.

In the first half, a Scotcher free-kick nearly sent Fawcett in, and a run by Mohamed from midfield was threatening.

Another good break in the second 45 saw Scotcher shoot over before two big Blues chances around the hour mark, which a Mohamed ball in was inches away from a connection from Williams, and Fawcett, with the defence maybe anticipating the pass, fired in a quick shot which was very narrowly wide.

And at the other end, as the attacks came in Stuart pulled off one double save which had to be one of the highlights of the afternoon.

But at 90 minutes the game was goalless.

The first period of extra time started with a fine run and cross-shot by Watts, which really wasn’t too far away. Then in the 96th minute Pemberton was adjudged to have handled in the box and Steve Tames crashed the penalty in emphatically.

Then two minutes later Jones cut in from the right to drive into the roof on the net.

And within another seven minutes two more fine finishes by Chris Venables and Kieran Smith had sent the Bluebirds out of the Cup.

All credit to Bala for a skilful performance and for the professionalism and the style with which they capitalised when the chance was there.

But the Blues could find positive news even in this disappointing half-hour, not least in the sparkling display of running and harrying from sub Jack Wilson.

And it was good too to see fine cameos from subs Jake Merry, Gareth Finnegan and the ever-loyal Nicky Palmer.

Haverfordwest County: Kyle Stuart, Ricky Watts, Leon Luby, Sean Pemberton, Tim Hicks Tom Dyson (Gareth Finnegan, 108’), Kaid Mohamed (Jack Wilson 63’), Elliot Scotcher, Ben Fawcett (Nicky Palmer 105’), Danny Williams (Jake Merry 105’), Elliot Thomas
Sub not used: Seamus Drake.

Bala Town: Ashley Morris, Andy Burns, Sean Smith, Anthony Miley, Stuart Jones, Nathan Burke, Henry Jones, Kieran Smith, Mike Hayes, Steven Tames. Subs: Danny Gosset, Stuart Jones, Ryan Valentine, Stephen Fisher..

Referee: Dean John.

Assistant Referees: Sion Peter Davies and Connor Thomas.

Fourth official: Ben Williams.