BALA TOWN manager Colin Caton was 'proud' of his side despite being denied what looked like a blatant penalty in their 0-0 draw with JD Cymru Premier leaders The New Saints (TNS).

Football at all levels across Wales had been halted due to Coronavirus restrictions in December - that included the 2020/21 JD Cymru Premier campaign which was nearly at its midway point.

However, with the top-flight having been granted ‘elite status’ once more some weeks ago, the league’s twelve clubs returned to action last week.

That included the Lakesiders who faced a daunting trip to TNS’ Park Hall on Saturday.

And, despite performing very well and being the first team to take a point off the Saints at their home ground this season, Bala will feel they could have and possibly should have had all three points had that game-changing decision gone their way.

The visitors started off on the front foot with early chances falling to top scorer and skipper Chris Venables and Antony Kay but neither could convert.

Around ten minutes in, Bala goalkeeper Alex Ramsay made his first of many great saves on the day to deny Leo Smith a goal. Moments later he pulled off another fine stop to keep Danny Redmond out.

TNS then had a Simon Spender goal ruled out for offside on 23 minutes before having a penalty shout of their own waved a way on the half-hour mark.

Raul Correia then saw a wicked shot saved by Paul Harrison before half time arrived.

In the second half, both sides pushed for that all-elusive goal with the likes of Bala’s Will Evans and Venables and TNS’ former Bala forward Louis Robles going closest to breaking the deadlock.

The main talking point of the match came with around half an hour to go though when Bala felt they should have had a penalty when Venables’ pass seemed to strike TNS defender Ryan Astles on the forearm.

Ramsay made another superb save late on to ensure that the points were shared and TNS remained top for the time being, with Bala in third.

Speaking to the Free Press after the match, Bala manager Colin Caton said: “I thought we played really well and defended resiliently, we were tremendous in that aspect.

"I thought we handled TNS very well, they very rarely penetrated in behind the back line and I thought towards the end of the match we had the better chances.

"Our fitness was superb as well, especially when you consider we only played two friendlies and they played four or five due to them being a full time team.

"We've gone close to beating them a few times now and we're the first team to take a point off them at their place this season so I'm very proud of the lads."

Talking about the penalty, Caton added: "I 100% thought it was a penalty at the time, judging from the reaction of the player himself. But, the referee (Iwan Griffith) has since apologised which not many referees would do these days and I respect him for that.

"He's a genuinely nice guy and we all make mistakes at the end of the day."

TNS' management team of Scott Ruscoe and Steve Evans departed the club just a day after the 0-0 draw with Bala Town ensued.

The club is now looking for their replacements.

Commenting on that, Caton said: "It's a real they've left. I've enjoyed coming up against them over the years and I wish them all the best in future."