Yesterday the 13 March at The Rock, Druids played out an intense encounter with Bala Town, ultimately going down 3-1 after taking the lead early on in the first half thanks to a fine Stef Edwards strike.
Druids came into this game underdogs against third placed Bala Town who had already secured their place in the championship conference. We had come off a tough loss at home to Newtown a few days earlier and were looking for a reaction and some belief amongst the squad that we could turn things around. Bala’s last game was a week before, away at TNS in which they drew 0-0. They came into this game well rested and looking to put the game to bed early on.
However, it was Druids who started on the front foot. Applying pressure up front and not allowing Bala to get comfortable on the ball. It only took 6 minutes, and we were ahead. Great play, building from the right-hand side over to the left saw fullback Stef Edwards pick the ball up just inside the box. He shifted it onto his favoured left foot smashed a low drive into the bottom corner to put us 1-0 up!
Following the goal, Druids stayed organised defensively, aiming to see out the half as Bala began to get more balls into our box and apply more pressure. Then on the half hour mark, a Bala cross into the box led to a scramble with the ball popping up to Bala midfielder Ollie Shannon. Controversy struck, as it appeared Shannon handled the ball to control it down before prodding it passed Druid’s keeper Michael Jones to equalise. However, the goal was given, much to the dismay of the Druids players and coaching staff and we went into half time all square.
The second half began, and Druids aimed to stay in the game for as long as possible in hope of snatching a winner when the opportunity presented itself. However, Bala were dominating possession and applying all out pressure on our goal straight away, hoping to take the lead. In the 50th minute, Bala captain Chris Venables made room for a shot on the edge of out box, which was blocked well down low by goalkeeper Michael Jones. However Bala midfielder Ollie Shannon followed up on the loose ball and poked it in for his second of the game, giving Bala a 2-1 lead.
Following the goal, Bala continued the pressure with Druids sitting in and looking to play on the counterattack. Bala had a few more good opportunities through crosses into our box, but our defence stayed solid, and they were unable to convert. However, just before the 70th minute mark, Bala forward Raul Correia tangled with Druids centre half Phil Mooney in our box, with both players going down. The referee decided to award a penalty to our opponents which was converted by Venables making it 3-1 Bala.
More drama after the goal as Druids felt they should have been awarded a penalty after Aaron Simpson was cut down in the box by ex Druid Nathan Peate. However, the referee waved play on. Shortly afterwards a disagreement between Ryan Kershaw and Bala midfielder Steve Leslie led to Leslie being shown a red card. Druids piled on the pressure in the closing stages with a man advantage but were unable to find a goal. The referee finally blew for full time in another disappointing afternoon for Druids.
Overall, it seems it is just not going our way at the moment. However, all of the teams around us dropped points so we haven’t lost any ground on them. It is important we stay with the pack leading into the split to give ourselves the best chance of survival when Phase 2 begins. What is obvious though is that giving up isn’t part of the picture.
It doesn’t get any easier as we travel to TNS on Tuesday night to continue our busy schedule. Rest and recovery are paramount at the moment in preparation for the last few games as the all important Phase 2 looms.
We keep going!
More than just a football club