New Mills AFC 2, Bala Town 3
For the second time in a week, New Mills lost a pre-season friendly by a single goal, this time slipping to a narrow defeat against Welsh Premier League side Bala Town.
In a similar vein to the game against Hyde, it was the visitors who started the stronger and were unlucky not to take the lead when Stef Edwards’ corner wasn’t collected properly by keeper Ben Procter and Stuart Jones rattled the underside of the crossbar.
Lively strikers Lee Hunt and Chris Mason fashioned out Bala’s best chance of the half. Hunt found time and space down the left flank and delivered a pinpoint cross to Mason whose side-foot finish past the upright didn’t match the build-up play.
The home side took the lead a minute before half time with their one and only effort on target. Substitute Niall Whittaker won the ball down the right and crossed a lovely ball straight into the path of the unmarked Daniel Douglas-Pringle who emphatically volleyed past Terry McCormick from eight yards.
The Millers opened the second half by asking more questions of the Bala defence, but it was outstanding defensive work at the other end which prevented an equaliser. Hunt rounded Procter, but centre half Clive Brown conjured up a superb block.
Sixty seconds later the home side doubled their advantage with another well-constructed goal. Good build-up play down the right saw Douglas-Pringle deliver a cross onto the head of Matthew Berkeley who glanced the ball past McCormick and into the corner of the net.
Chris Mason reduced the arrears just after the hour with a simple finish past Procter.
The Millers went within inches of making it 3-1 in the 65th minute when Carlos Meakin twisted and turned on the edge of the penalty area to create room for a shot and, after achieving this, was only denied by an excellent finger-tip save by McCormick.
Bala drew level with just over a quarter of an hour remaining when Mark Jones collected a rebound, after a previous effort had hit a post, and buried the ball past Procter from ten yards. The New Mills keeper then kept his side in the game with an outstanding double save.
It was not to be Procter’s afternoon though as the Welsh side scored with three minutes to go when Hunt crashed the ball home into the roof of the net.
There was still time for the Millers to create a golden opportunity to draw level when Berkeley’s cross found Justin Pickering at the near post. His clever dinked shot came back of the upright into the path of Whittaker whose effort lacked power.
New Mills starting line-up: Ben Procter, Michael Bowler, Otis Gorman, Richard Rowe, Tony Barras, Clive Brown, Carlos Meakin, Chris Young, Matthew Berkeley, Daniel Douglas-Pringle, Luke Horrocks.