A FORMER Ballon d’Or nominee put paid to Barry Town United’s hopes on Saturday, as Gavin Chesterfield’s side were beaten by two first-half goals at a windswept and sodden Bala Town.

In 2012, attacker Les Davies made a sensational surprise inclusion on the longlist for the European player of the year prize, with his standout season at Bangor City enough to earn him an audacious nomination from Welsh representative journalist Dave Jones and place the Welsh Premier League goalscorer alongside the likes of Sergio Agüero, Cristiano Ronaldo and eventual winner Lionel Messi.

Five years later, 32-year old Davies announced his arrival at Bala with a pair of early efforts, forcing visitors Barry into uphill struggle, as the hosts climbed above them in the JD Welsh Premier League.

With the effects of Storm Brian being felt across the country, the match was played in appalling weather, though the 3G surface at Maes Tegid ensured there was little risk of an abandonment, despite broadcasters S4C being forced to desert their regular position opposite the main stand.

Having already made a long and arduous journey to Gwynedd, the forty or so travelling supporters saw their spirits dashed as early as the tenth minute. After experienced WPL campaigner Chris Venables pumped the ball into the penalty area, teammate Michael Hayes would bundle the ball across; allowing Davies, free as a bird, to fire the opener into the bottom right corner.

As the wind played havoc, Bala’s long-ball tactics were causing problems, yet their second came instead from a smart move on the deck. Grounding the ball, Nathan Burke quickly spotted Davies gearing up for a forward run and played him in for a fine, one-touch strike into the opposite corner.

With 23 minutes gone, Barry were in real trouble; but to their credit, the trailing team managed to stop the rot and create an assortment of attacking plays, in attempt to regain a credible foothold.

In arguably the best of them, controlling midfielder Troy Greening, who impressed for much of the match, found wide man Paul Morgan; the full-back beating two opponents to find skipper James Saddler, who was occupying a more advanced role than usual. Saddler then played the ball through to teammate Drew Fahiya, who delivered it to Kayne McLaggon, on the edge of the six-yard box. However, target man McLaggon was given precious little space by the Bala defence and his leaping, right-footed shot flew wide of the goalmouth, as the hosts clung onto their two-goal advantage.

In the second period, both Venables and Hayes forced saves out of Barry goalkeeper Mike Lewis, while Davies’s flying header at the back post never looked setto be serving up his hat-trick.

At the opposite end, Barry, who had gone close through Fahiya, continued to build up attacks, with the industrious Macauley Southam impressive on the flank. However, Barry‘s clear-cut chances were at a premium, despite the efforts of substitutes Tyrrell Webbe and Louis Gerrard to shake things up.

A wet weekend in Bala then, both on and off the field, for a Barry team who now sit ninth in the JD Welsh Premier League, ahead of this Sunday afternoon’s visit of Connah’s Quay Nomads (2.30pm).

Much like Welsh Cup holders Bala, European adventurers the Nomads have invested heavily in recent seasons and manager Andy Morrison will bring a crack squad to Jenner Park, including the likes of former TNS goalscorer Michael Wilde and a number of full-time professionals.

The challenge now for Barry is to keep spirits high as the tests come thick and fast, with a visit to champions, leaders and long-time rivals TNS on tap for the following Saturday (4th November).

While Barry have struggled to score on the road, the team have been on target in all but one of their home games, putting two past Newtown and three by Carmarthen, to the joy of the Jenner faithful.

With recovering forward Jordan Cotterill getting more minutes under his belt, supporters will also be lifted by the news of both Ryan Newman and James Dixon being on the comeback trail; with the progress of the latter being monitored by the club, following his recent return to training.

Nevertheless, with neither expected set to feature before Christmas and big wins for Prestatyn and Aberystwyth of late, Barry must ensure their positive performances translate into all-important goals, as the competition across the league hots up.

Admission to Barry vs Connah's Quay this Sunday afternoon is £7 (adults), £5 (senior citizens) and £3 (children), payable at the gate.