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NORTHERN Ireland sides generally held the upper hand against their Welsh Premier opponents in three pre-Europe friendlies on Saturday, with Bala Town and Bangor City both beaten.

But, after an indifferent first half performance at Dixon Park, Connah's Quay Nomads were the better side after the break and created several chances without managing to break the deadlock in a goal-less draw against Ballymena United.

Northern Ireland champions Linfield took a 24th-minute lead against Bala at Maes Tegid, Andy Waterworth tapping home a Niall Quinn cross from two yards out. They doubled their lead with an Aaron Burns penalty after Paul Smyth was felled in the box, before the Lakesiders pulled a goal back after the break when Mark Connolly fired home following a corner. But the Ulstermen sealed victory three minutes from time when Cameron Stewart headed a Kirk Millar cross into the net.

Coleraine opened the scoring against Bangor just before the half hour mark when Eoin Bradley rifled a shot home, but the visitors were soon level when Dan Nardiello converted a penalty after new signing Luke Wall had been brought down.

But the Bannsiders regained the lead eight minutes after the break through a 20-yard James McLaughlin free kick and went on to seal victory with a Jamie McGonigle penalty after a trialist was upended by Bangor keeper Connor Roberts.