BALA Town reached the JD Welsh Cup final for the first time in their history with a hard fought 3-1 win over Caernarfon Town.
The Lakesiders were made to work hard for their victory against Iwan Williams’ Huws Gray Alliance outfit, and they will face all-conquering champions The New Saints in the final after the disposed of Gap Connah’s Quay.
Colin Caton’s men turn their attentions back to Dafabet Welsh Premier League action this weekend, and they can take another giant step to securing second spot when they host Carmarthen Town in their penultimate home fixture (2.30pm).
In-front of a crowd of more than 800 fans at Rhyl’s Corbett Sports Stadium, the WPL outfit started the game strongly and went close early on when an Anthony Stephens free-kick was deflected over from 25 yards, while Kieran Smith’s long-range effort sailed inches wide.
Smith twice went close again soon after when he fired over after good work from Jordan Evans, and he forced Cofis stopper Alex Ramsay into a smart stop.
Gradually the Canaries began to impose themselves on proceedings, with lively forward Jamie Breese causing problems with his relentless running.
They were rewarded for their improved play on 26 minutes when talisman Darren Thomas produced a silky run down the right-hand side before fizzing a delivery across the goalmouth which was diverted into his own net by Stuart Jones.
Things almost went from bad-to-worse for Town when Nathan Craig and Breese both went close to doubling their advantage in a rampant spell from the recently dethroned champions of the second tier.
Striker Chris Venables was fortunate to escape a red card for a poor challenge on Kevin Roberts following a robust challenge, and the same player fired wired shortly before the break.
The introduction of veteran forward Lee Hunt at the interval proved to be an inspired change from Caton, and the former Rhyl man levelled proceedings on 77 minutes when he beast the offside trap and delivered a neat chip over Ramsay.
With the Cofis now tiring, Town took the lead for the first time in the contest when the impressive Smith drilled home from eight yards on 88 minutes, and they sealed their final berth and European football next season when substitute Hunt notched his second of the evening with a close-range finish.