Bala Town: Meet Sligo Rovers’ Europa Conference League opponents

Bala Town

Bala Town.

Sligo Rovers return to Europa Conference League action this week, as they take on Welsh outfit Bala Town in a two-legged tie in the first qualifying round of the tournament.

While the Bit O’ Red may not reach the Conference League group stages, they will be hoping for a deep run into European competition this season after an indifferent league campaign.

With a win over two-legs against Bala Town, Sligo will face Motherwell in the next qualifying round of the competition.

But first up is a game against Welsh opponents, and we have you covered ahead of the tie.

Who are Bala Town?

A Welsh side, Bala Town are a club on the up in Welsh football, and came second to eventual league winners The New Saints last season in the Cymru Premier League.

Losing out on the league title by a hefty margin of 21 points, Bala secured Europa Conference League qualification by virtue of their second-placed league finish.

However, Bala have never won a Welsh league title, with their only ever major trophy coming in the 2016/17 season, when they won the Welsh Cup.

And it has only been recently when they have been competing in European competition.

Making their European debut in 2013, the Lakesiders as they are affectionately known, have yet to win a two-legged affair in Europe.

They have only won just one European tie before, and that was during the Covid-19 hit 2020/21 season that saw qualifiers be played over one game.

In 2018, they were famously dumped out of the Europa League by San Marino’s Tre Fiori over two-legs.

Key Man?

One of Wales’ many Euro 2016 heroes, former Welsh international Dave Edwards now finds himself playing for Bala Town in the Cymru Premier Division.

In the latter stage of his career, Edwards has established himself as a key man in the Bala Town side, as he combines some media work along with the end of his footballing career.

While he is now 36, Edwards still managed to score 10 goals in 26 games for Bala Town last season, as he guided his new club to the Europa Conference League.

He was also named as the league’s player of the month in September, and also helped his side reach the semi-final stage of the Welsh Cup. Edwards has been capped at senior international level by Wales on 43 occasions, scoring three goals.

One to watch?

With Edwards only recently joining the club, Chris Venables is one of the many stalwarts of this current Bala Town side, and will be hoping to inspire his side to an unlikely win against Sligo Rovers.

Also 36, Venables has scored some big goals for Bala Town down through the years, none more so than the winner in their only ever win in a European tie against Maltese side Valetta in 2020.

Granted, the 36-year-old did not play as much as he would have liked last season, but is their club captain and retains his prolific eye for goal.

He will be one that the Bit O’ Red need to keep a close eye on.

Who are the favourites?

Sligo Rovers are undoubtedly the favourites for this Europa Conference League tie against Bala Town.

Bala Town have never won a two-legged affair before in European competition, and there is little to suggest that they will be able to do so now.

The first-leg is also to be played at Park Hall, which is the home venue of TNS, with Bala forced to give up home advantage for the home leg.

Also, Sligo come into this tie off the back of an impressive recent run of results, which was capped off by a 3-1 win at home to Shelbourne in the Premier Division.

The Bit O’ Red are the favourites, and rightly so.

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