Europa League: Valletta 0 Bala Town 1
Valletta missed a penalty as they suffered a narrow defeat to Bala Town in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday.
It was a disappointing result for the Citizens against a team which was considered as being more or less on their same level. However despite a good start, they conceded a goal towards the end of the first half and although they had the opportunity to equalise when they were awarded a penalty but Mario Fontanella’s effort was neutralised by the Welsh goalkeeper.
For Bala Town, this was a historic result as they qualify for a second round of a UEFA competition for the first time in the history of the club. This was also their first ever win away from home in a European competition.
New Valletta coach Jesmond Zerafa named Mihailo Jovanovic in the starting line-up but Taylon and Taisei Marukawa were both included as substitutes.
Despite an encouraging start for Valletta, Bala Town scored the all-important goal seven minutes from the end of the first half when off a cross by Steven Leslie from the left, captain Chris Venables slotted the ball past Bonello from close range.
The Citizens could have equalised on the hour when substitute Taylon was brought down by Antony Kay following a cross by Fontanella from the right. However, Mario Fontanella’s effort from the penalty spot was turned into a corner in style by goalkeeper Alex Ramsay.
VALLETTA: Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Santiago Malano, Matteo Picciolo (59’ Taylon), Shaun Dimech (68’ Taisei Marukawa), Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre, Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba (46’ Kyrian Nwoko), Mihailo Jovanovic, Mario Fontanella.
BALA TOWN: Alex Ramsay, Sean Smith, Tony Stephens, Jonathan Spittle, William Evans, Raul Correia (79’ Henry Jones), Steven Leslie (69’ Kieran Smith), Antony Kay, Lassana Mendes, Chris Venables, Oliver Shannon.
Referee: Luca Barbeno (SMR)