Date: Thu 11 Jul 2013

Brave Bala crash out in Estonia

Levadia Tallinn 3-1 Bala Town

(Levadia Tallinn win 3-2 on aggregate)

Ashley Morris is beaten by Rimo Hunt

Ashley Morris is beaten by Rimo Hunt


(FC Levadia win 3-2 on aggregate).

There was late expectancy for Bala Town, when teenager Ryan Jones scored an 89th minute goal for the Lakesider’s to add to their 1-0 victory at Rhyl’s Belle Vue nine day’s ago against Levadia Tallinn in their Europa League 1st round 2nd leg tie at the Kadriorg Staadion. (reports Robert Clement).
Regrettably, with Colin Caton’s side requiring a second goal during three minutes of added on time to secure an historic away goal, to be rewarded with a match against Romanian Liga 1 outfit Pandurii which failed to materialize, after Estonian international Rimo Hunt had twice scored during the first half, and then added a third goal five minutes into the second half.
With Ian Sheridan having provided Bala with a slender advantage in the home tie, they gained a free kick after only three minutes with Artur Pikk having upended Stephen Brown, but Stuart Jones was unfortunate, heading over the bar from Kenny Lunt’s twenty five yard delivery.
Bala gained their first corner two minutes later with Pikk turning behind a Brown cross into the goalmouth; then from Lunt’s flag delivery full back Artjom Artjunin produced a positive headed clearance.
Bala suffered a major setback soon after with Levadia gaining a touch line free kick, and with the visitor’s defence momentarily caught off guard, Andreas Raudsepp made quick progress down the left side, with his cross into the penalty area being headed in by Hunt.
There was an additional setback for Bala during the twenty first minute, with Raudsepp again using his pace and trickery to unsettle the Maes Tegid back-line, and on this occasion his precision cross into the danger zone saw Ben Collins steer the ball into the path of Hunt, allowing him to despatch a low shot past goalkeeper Ashley Morris.
Just before the half hour, the Moldovan official judged Aleksei Jahhimovits to have pushed Lewis Codling, and it was Mark Connolly thirty yard free kick which curled around the three man wall, but Ukranian born goalkeeper Roman Smishko was well placed to make the save.
Two minutes prior to the interval, there was additional pressure from the experienced Estonian side, with a Hunt shot rebounding off the post, and that was followed up with Igor Subbotin hastily blazing over the top.
Five minutes into the second half the Bala defence was once again caught wrong footed, with Hunt shaking off the attention of Stuart Jones to advance and underline his determination by bursting forward to register his third goal.
There was a positive response from Codling during the 58th minute with the former Aberystwyth Town frontrunner displaying real purpose, but the opportunity to bring Bala back into the tie proved fruitless with his effort flying wide of the upright.
Bala were beginning to stamp their authority on the game despite that triple setback, and skipper Mark Jones was inches away from finding the net following an encouraging burst forward by Sheridan.
Levadia continued to be unsettled by the fresh sense of desire by Bala, and midway into the second half Sheridan was a whisker away from heading home a Lunt corner.
There was a lethal goal scoring threat from Connolly after seventy one minutes, with his scoring threat bouncing back off the goalframe following a Lunt free kick, after Ryan Valentine had been fouled by Artur Rattel.
Bala continued to show grit and determination, and there was a pulsating finale with Connolly successfully finding substitute Ryan Jones available on the edge of the six yard area, and the teenager crowned his appearance, grabbing the initiative with his quality low delivery flashing beyond the reach of a stunned Smishko.
Unfortunately, with sixty seconds remaining, along with three minutes of added on time, Bala maintained the attacking momentum to seek out a second goal to claim the tie, but it was stout defending by the Levadia rearguard that denied the gallant attempt by the Gwynedd based Welsh Premier League play-off winners.
Bala Town’s assistant manager Colin Caton later reflected on the performance at the Radisson Blu Hotel Olumpia accommodation in the city centre, with the prolonged match winning run coming to an end, so far away from Maes Tegid.
“It was a phenomenal run that we’ve been on really, fourteen games, and to come here and match them for the whole of the second half, and to lose where we possibly had a few half chances with Mark Connolly having got one across the keeper, and Mark Jones has had a shot on target with a quality second half display, but unfortunately we defended poorly during the first forty five minutes”.
Caton recalled that having made the breakthrough so early on at Rhyl’s Belle Vue nine day’s ago, it was Levadia who responded with the opening goal arriving at a similar period of time in the game.
“Yes, they scored after six minutes, which made it all square, but we should have defended the goal better and the second one also. I think that all three goals were preventable, which is a disappointing style of our game really, because we’ve been so good defensively, but you’ve got to give them credit they’re a full-time team, all professionals, they’re into their season, halfway through, that’s their eighteenth competitive game, where it’s only our second game since May”.
“Maybe at times we did need an extra touch of the ball compared to them, but because of the Welsh system and the time that these games come about it’s difficult for us to prepare, when teams like that are well into their campaign, where as we finished in mid-May, to then have a two or three week break with the lads having to come back in to train with no competitive games”.
He then commented about the brief break possibly hampering his pre-Europa League plans.
“I’m a believer that football should be played during the winter months, but I can now understand the criticism from the teams that have been in Europe; the preparations are very difficult, and now I realise why, because how are we suppose to play competitive games, when there is nobody back in pre-season training”.
“Remo Hunt claimed a hat-trick with also another attempt coming back off the bar, but we gave him the two first half scoring opportunities and I’m sure that our players could have scored a hat-tick in Rhyl as well, but the amount of money that they’re getting here along with the facilities and everything they’ve got”.
“If it was a league fixture we would won the home game which would have been three points and then an away fixture with three more points, with it being goal difference with us having gone out against Levadia, and not many teams would have done that”.
With substitute Ryan Jones having been introduced in place of Conall Murtagh just after the hour period, Caton offered immense praise to the Corwen born teenager who score during the 89th minute,
“Ryan Jones is a massive prospect, he’s only seventeen years of age, he’s read the flick from Mark Connolly, had a great touch and he’s finished it well and all credit to the lad. It’s a learning curve for him as it is for everybody, but he’s got a lot of potential and hopefully he’ll keep progressing and keep learning whether it’s on the side or on the pitch”.
“After Ryan had score his goal Levadia wasted time and I’m a little disappointed with the officials with the timing which they were killing, with there being only one team that wanted to win it with us pushing and pushing and putting balls in their box, but it just didn’t fall for us, but the lads showed great credit during the second half along with magnificent team spirit in their performance, but disappointed defensively with the three goals we gave away”.
A massive plus for Bala Town is that on their debut appearance in Europe they scored at home and away, and Caton added.
“Yes, I’ve always had the belief that we could score goals in this tie; we’ve scored one today and we didn’t give in and a lot of teams would have folded and let several goals in against a full-time team and it could have been quite embarrassing, but to concede five minutes after half-time and to take the game to them throughout the second half repays dividends for the great group of players I’ve got”.

FC Levadia Tallinn

Roman Smishko (capt), Artjom Artjunin, Ilja Antonov, Artur Rattel, Igor Subbotin, Aleksandr Dmitrijev, Aleksandr Kulinits, Aleksei Jahhimovits, Artur Pikk, Andreas Raudsepp, Rimo Hunt,

Unused substitutes: Kevin Ingermann, Nikita Kolyaev, Ingemar Teever, Maksim Podholjuzin, Andero Pebre, Marek Kaljumae.

Bala Town

Ashley Morris, Ben Collins, Stuart Jones, Ryan Valentine, Conall Murtagh (Ryan Jones 64th min), Mark Connolly, Mark Jones (capt), Ian Sheridan, Stephen Brown (Kristian Pierce 89th min), Lewis Codling (Steffan Edwards 75th min), Kenny Lunt.

Unused substitutes: Edwin Renaud, Paul Lewis, Stephen Fisher, Matthew Boswell.


FC Levadia Tallinn: Rimo Hunt 6th min, 21st min, 50th min.
Bala Town: Ryan Jones 89th min.

Yellow cards:

FC Levedia: Aleksandr Dmitrijev 90th min+1, Roman Smishko 90th min+1.
Bala Town: Ben Collins 40th min, Mark Connolly 56th min.

Referee: Dumitri Muntean (Moldova).

Attendance: 2,567.

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