BARRY Town United's JD Welsh Premier League chances suffered another setback on Saturday; this time, at the hands of battling Bala Town, as the title outsiders slipped to a second straight defeat on a windy afternoon at Jenner Park.

Saturday's clash was the second attempt at fulfilling this fixture in the space of five weeks, after the initial game on February 9th fell victim to floodlight failure, unceremoniously cutting short S4C's live coverage in unexpected style.

However, there would be no repeat of the off-field controversy that curtailed that evening, nor of the handball hijinks that decided Bala's preceding visit.

Instead, Colin Caton's visitors, on a six-match winless run, would leave Jenner Park with their heads held high, his Lakesiders recording a first Welsh Premier League victory since Boxing Day's 2-1 triumph against Connah's Quay Nomads; a result that notably helped Barry wrap up 2018 on top of the national division.

Now, Gavin Chesterfield's third-placed team are without a win of their own in five and left looking over their shoulder, though fourth-placed Newtown's 2-0 defeat at Connah's Quay on Friday evening ensured the Robins remain six points adrift of Barry and a potential Europa League spot at the international break.

As matters stand, a third-placed finish would secure automatic qualification for the preliminary stages, pending either of the top two winning the JD Welsh Cup.

After early defensive difficulties had blighted the previous weekend's trip to Latham Park, Chesterfield recalled Lewis Cosslett for Saturday's battle with Bala, the tenured centre-back making a first appearance of 2019 after injury.

Unfortunately, Barry's trend of conceding before the break reared its ugly head once more, as former Bolton Wanderers and Bradford City man Andrew Burns fired into the net on 32 minutes, after the hosts were unable to clear from a corner.

A motivated Bala had already posed a threat to Barry's goal via Wales C international Chris Venables and would almost score when Henry Jones' hit from long range came back off the bar, before Mike Hayes forced a save out of namesake Mike Lewis.

The second half spawned attempts from both men, while the announcement of Wales' Grand Slam victory elicited one of the few cheers of the day from the home fans.

After Clayton Green's long-distance effort was held by Bala goalkeeper Ashley Morris, the Lakesiders found themselves with a golden chance to settle things from the spot, as Barry defender Luke Cooper was penalised for fouling Hayes.

While the decision would be the subject of hot debate, the outcome would prove definitive, as the established and prolific Venables drove his effort into the Barry net to double the visitors' advantage, with only 15 minutes remaining.

The introduction of Louis Gerrard and Sam Snaith proved a last roll of the dice, yet despite a penalty shout for Gerrard and two late opportunities for newcomer Snaith, it was Bala that came closest to adding to their tally, as Jones hit the post and the venerable Venables struck the woodwork twice in the closing stages.

Bala's 2-0 win sees them climb to 38 points, behind Caernarfon on 40, Newtown on 43, Barry on 46 and The New Saints on 56, while Connah's Quay now lead the pack again with 48 points, as champions TNS were without a fixture this past weekend.

Barry's defeat was just their third at home in the JD Welsh Premier League since October 2017, with only Bala and TNS winning at Jenner Park in those 17 months.

What may be of more concern is that Saturday saw Barry's lowest home attendance of the entire season, although head-to-head scheduling with the concluding part of the Wales vs Ireland international certainly did this 4pm fixture no favours.

A healthier turnout is anticipated for this coming Saturday (23rd March), when Barry welcome the league's best-supported club, Caernarfon Town, to Jenner Park.

The Canaries have recorded a host of four-figure crowds of late and took over 1,000 supporters to neighbouring Bangor City in the JD Welsh Cup Fourth Round.

Though fewer members of the Cofi Army are expected to make the long journey to Barry, a decent number should be in store for this traditional 2.30pm kick-off.

Meanwhile, anticipation continues to build for the 2018-19 JD Welsh Cup semi-finals and the first-ever semi-final meeting between Barry and The New Saints.

The one-off tie, Barry's first at this stage since 2013, will take place at Newtown's neutral Latham Park on Saturday 30th March, kicking off at 7.30pm.

At least one supporters' coach will be making the return trip from Jenner Park, with those wishing to travel encouraged to contact Leon Ford on 07505 933 972.