WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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WELSH clubs will face Scottish opposition for the first time in seven years when Bala Town and The New Saints make their debut in the Irn-Bru Cup on Saturday.

The revamped Scottish Challenge Cup, which has traditionally been contested by clubs in the Scottish pyramid, has been widened this season to include two clubs from Wales plus two - Crusaders and Linfield - from Northern Ireland.

Bala Town host the semi-pros of League One Alloa Athletic at Maes Tegid with three squad members, Ashley Morris, Chris Venables and Stuart Jones, who played for Llanelli against Motherwell in both legs of a Europa League tie back in 2009.

Jones scored the goal that gained the Reds a shock 1-0 away win against the 'Well, although Andy Legg's side were eliminated after a 3-0 home defeat.

Bookmakers Corbett Sports make Alloa 4/5 favourites to progress to the fifth round at Bala's expense, but TNS are hot 8/13 favourites to win at Forfar Athletic's Station Park.

The Loons will be looking for a big response following last weekend's derby defeat to Angus rivals Montrose, which ended their 100 percent league record.

"Myself and Scott Ruscoe went up to Scotland on the Saturday before the Carmarthen game to watch Forfar, so we've taken our notes and worked on a game plan," says TNS director of football Craig Harrison.

"It'll be a tough game, no matter what anyone says because they've made a fantastic start to the league.

"They lost their first game on Saturday in eight games, so we're going there with the same attitude as usual, to win the match but we'll have to fight for it and hopefully we can do enough to get through to the next round."

The Saints have a few players with Scottish connections including Wes Fletcher who played for Motherwell, Jon Routledge who was formerly at Hamilton and Dumbarton and Steven Saunders, who was capped for Scotland and also played for Motherwell, Ross County and Dumbarton.

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25 April 2017

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