TWO SENT OFF IN AWAY MISERY
FOLLOWING their second-half capitulation at Aberystwyth Town, the Reds fared no better at Maes Tegid on Saturday, shipping a further three goals.
More pertinently, they had two players sent off, putting even more pressure on their thinly-stretched squad prior to the visit of The New Saints on Friday evening.
Scott Tancock and Kurtis March were dismissed by referee Gavin Townsend after two cautions apiece, but even with a full complement it had proved difficult for the visitors against opponents who were quicker in thought and deed.
The Reds began the contest brightly enough, with James Loveridge forcing ex-Llanelli keeper Ashley Morris to push his near-post effort around the upright, and when the corner came across, a looping Joe Clarke header over Morris was headed off the line by Anthony Miley.
Llanelli continued in this vein, with Mark Jones directing his header over the top from a Cai Smith delivery, before the home side began to find their rhythm, with a corner from Nathan Burke being headed on to the roof of the net by Mike Hayes.
Having gradually established their dominance, Bala then struck twice in as many minutes.
The first came in the 21st minute when a move up the left culminated in Steven Tames being found and he fired low across goalkeeper Oliver Davies into the far corner.
Before the visitors had time to draw breath, they found themselves further behind on 23 minutes when Burke unleashed a shot which carried little venom. Davies should have done better than to allow it to squirm out of his grasp and trickle over the line.
Stunned by these setbacks, the Reds nevertheless still posed a threat on the counter, and following a sweeping move, Chris Jones had his shot charged down. The rebound fell into the path of Loveridge but he screwed his finish wide and the danger was cleared.
When the hosts pushed forward, Hayes volleyed fractionally over the top of the goal, before being instrumental in sending a ball across the face of goal which Henry Jones just failed to meet.
Eight minutes into the second period the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Tancock received his second caution, making their task of taking something out of the contest even more difficult.
Davies did well to get down to clutch a well-struck attempt by Jones, before the Reds were thrown an unlikely lifeline with the award of a penalty on the hour following a challenge for a high ball in the box between Morris and Mark Jones.
Referee Townsend ruled that the striker had been fouled and showed a yellow card to the home keeper.
Chris Jones easily found the net to bring his side back into contention, and when Smith made a run up the left, he found Loveridge at the near post but his effort was forced over for a corner.
The home side retaliated, and Hayes again went close with a volley following a surging run by Burns, and with the game now tilting back in their favour, they wrapped up matters after 72 minutes when a great through ball from Sean Smith played in Tames, who shot beyond the oncoming Davies to notch up his brace despite the desperate efforts of Ross Jones to keep it out.
The visitors were by now wilting, although Jones went close again when Ian Sheridan set up the opportunity.
Six minutes from time, events got even worse for the Reds with the dismissal of March after a scything tackle on Burke, and the final act came when Davies did well to grab the ball at the feet of Tames when he collected a chip into the area.
With their next opponents, champions The New Saints, due at Stebonheath on Friday evening (7.45pm), the Reds management have much to ponder. BALA TOWN: Morris, Burns, Smith, Miley, Stuart J. Jones, Burke (capt), H. Jones, Gosset (Valentine 88), Pearson, Tames, Hayes (Sheridan 71). Subs not used: Charles, Edwards, J. Jones, Fisher, Stuart Jones. LLANELLI TOWN: O. Davies, R. Jones, Smith, Tancock, C. Thomas, Clarke, March, J. Davies (J. Jones 81), C. Jones, M. Jones (Khaton 90+2), Loveridge (Follows 76). Subs not used: Nelson, Evans, Jenkins, Rees (GK). SCORERS: Bala Town — Tames 21, 72, Burke 23. Llanelli Town — C. Jones (pen) 60.
YELLOW CARDS: Bala Town — Hayes, H. Jones. Llanelli Town — Tancock (2), Clarke, Loveridge, March (2). RED CARDS: Llanelli Town — Tancock, March.
REFEREE: Gavin Townsend (Swansea).
Johnstown’s Bradley Arnold goes close to scoring for his side during their visit to Pembrey in the Carmarthenshire League. The match ended 1-1.