BARRY Town United’s hopes of securing a top six berth were all but put to rest at Deeside Stadium on Saturday, as a ruthless Connah's Quay Nomads team ran out 3-0 winners on the first JD Welsh Premier League matchday of 2018.

With the league set to split into two groups after this coming weekend’s fixtures, Barry headed to north Wales assuming a least a draw would be needed to keep their top six aspirations alive.

However, second-placed Nomads were in no mood to give their visitors an inch, demonstrating the type of powerful football that saw them lose just twice on home soil in the previous calendar year.

With each of this season’s captains (James Saddler, Ryan Evans and Jordan Cotterill) ruled out of the match, defender Luke Cooper would skipper the Barry side, with teammate Lewis Cosslett earning his first JD Welsh Premier League start and recovering Ryan Newman making the substitute’s bench.

Nevertheless, while the Town toiled doggedly on a difficult, deteriorating surface, their opponents proved themselves a real handful; with former Wrexham and Macclesfield Town striker Michael Bakare and ex-Fleetwood Town forward Michael Wilde both threatening Joe Massaro’s goal.

Denied a first-half penalty when Nomads defender Mike Pearson was deemed to have controlled the ball with his chest and not his hand, Barry’s best chance came around ten minutes before the break, when Town talisman Kayne McLaggon nodded the ball on into the path of Louis Gerrard.

Breaking into the box with a clear, one-on-one opportunity, Gerrard did well to get beyond Connah’s Quay captain George Horan, but his left-footed effort was routinely saved by Nomads goalkeeper John Danby and Barry’s number 15 was instead left to rue what might have been.

Having survived this scare, Connah’s Quay set about their business again and the Deesiders soon found themselves ahead, as former Manchester United fledgling and Nomads professional Joe Heath lifted the ball deep into the Barry box and Callum Morris headed back across the goal to score.

It was a sizeable setback for Barry only five minutes before half-time and one from which the Town would not recover, as Connah’s Quay continued to display the defensive form that saw them concede only 16 goals in their previous 20 JD Welsh Premier League outings.

Posing an attacking threat from set-pieces, the Nomads looked to double their advantage in the second half, with midfielder Troy Greening forced to make a last-gasp clearance, before Horan and the returning Declan Poole attempted to force the ball right through a wall of Barry defenders.

However, the Town’s committed defence stood strong on the goal line, with goalkeeper Massaro deemed to have done just enough to prevent the ball from crossing.

With Gerrard’s powerful free-kick forcing Danby into action, Barry remained in the game on the hour mark, but their resistance would be broken minutes later, as Wilde nipped in to meet Bakare’s corner.

With rivals Cefn Druids and Llandudno both ahead, Barry’s chase for sixth looked to be on its last legs, before Poole showed good acceleration to rush forward and score the Nomads’ third.

However, despite enduring their second straight three-goal defeat, few could question the Town’s endeavour on Deeside; a team simply undone by one of the JD Welsh Premier League’s very best.

Connah’s Quay had turned over UEFA Europa League opponents HJK Helsinki in the summer and will look to build on their second spot with another European qualification berth this season.

For Barry meanwhile, the door to the coveted top six is not closed completely but Gavin Chesterfield’s men will need to beat Bala Town at Jenner Park on Saturday evening and hope that Llandudno win at Druids, while bettering Llandudno’s result by at least a seven-goal margin.

For the Welsh Cup holders to be demolished in such a fashion is surely unthinkable, as Colin Caton’s side eye the win that could lift them above Bangor City and into third spot, ahead of the big split.

Should Barry remain in the Bottom Six as expected, the club will face further home and away meetings with Aberystwyth Town, Carmarthen Town, Prestatyn Town, Newtown and whichever team loses the televised showdown between Druids and Llandudno at The Rock.

Kick-off for all JD Welsh Premier League matches this Saturday is set for 5.15pm, including the Barry vs Bala encounter at Jenner Park; the first ever meeting of the two sides at the stadium.

Admission for Barry vs Bala is £7 (adults), £5 (senior citizens/students) and £3 (children).