By Ashley Cox

BARRY Town's dreams of automatic European qualification were all but ended this week, as the Jenner Park outfit suffered successive defeats on their travels in the JD Cymru Premier.

On Saturday in Gwynedd, Lassana Mendes' 56th-minute strike proved the difference-maker, the Spaniard shimmying into space and rifling the ball beyond Barry goalkeeper Mike Lewis to give hosts Bala Town a narrow 1-0 win and a seemingly-unassailable 11-point advantage.

Then, on Tuesday, goals from Nathan Wood and Kane Owen in the 7th and 70th minutes respectively helped fourth-placed Penybont beat Barry 2-0, leaving Town adrift in fifth.

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Both of the home side's goals were high-quality; the first, a well-worked training ground trick, with Mael Davies pulling away from an unsuspecting Barry defence to meet Owens' low corner, before laying the ball off for teammate Wood to drill into the bottom corner.

The second meanwhile was a textbook counter-attack, with Curtis Hutson's pass intercepted by Ashley Evans, before the subsequent break saw Wood carry the ball to the edge of the box, Evans deliver the killer pass and Owen connect with finesse to ripple the Barry net.

It was Penybont's third win over Barry in 2021, as well as their third clean sheet, with Rhys Griffiths' men taking no fewer than 10 points against Town this season, from a possible 12.

At press time, Gavin Chesterfield's side were needing to win their final four Championship Conference fixtures and hope for multiple slip-ups from Bala and Penybont to steal third.

Victory for Bala in Wednesday's game in hand against Connah's Quay Nomads would be enough to see the Lakesiders over the line, otherwise Colin Caton's squad can guarantee European football for the seventh time on Saturday with a win over Barry at Jenner Park.

Unfortunately, the challenges of the Championship Conference do not get any easier, with champions Connah's Quay in town on Tuesday night (4 May), before Town travel to Park Hall to face the other championship contenders, The New Saints, the following Saturday.

With a six-point swing needed to pip Penybont, Barry seem poised for a fifth-placed finish, which would set up a European play-off semi-final tie at home to sixth-placed Caernarfon.

Ironically, the Canaries will play Barry at Jenner Park on the final day of the Championship Conference (15 May), meaning the north Walians could be set for two trips in succession.

Should things stay the same, Penybont will host Newtown in the other semi-final, the Robins having put together a four-game winning streak to top the Playoff Conference.