WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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KIERAN Smith says it was close friend and former Bala Town team mate Rob Pearson who convinced him to try his luck down under next season.

The 25-year-old scored the winning goal as the Lakesiders produced a Welsh Cup final upset against The New Saints in May and then played in the Europa League ties against FC Vaduz before declaring his intention to join Pearson at Tasman United in New Zealand's Honda Premisership.

The initial plan was for Smith to link up with his pal at Napier City Rovers last year but he pulled out at the last minute. But, as close friends, the pair have kept in regular contact and Pearson was able to convince him to join Tasman for next season.

"Rob is a very good friend of mine and I speak to him quite regularly so he's been a massive help really," Smith said. "I already had my heart set on coming over but he showed me some of the pictures and told me a few details about the club itself, obviously it's a new franchise, so I felt like it was a great opportunity."

Tasman coach Davor Tavich says Smith is an important piece in the jigsaw: "Kieran is a very good attacking footballer and he's obviously played at a high level.

"He's young, he's quick and he's very excited about coming here and I can't wait to get him here. He's just what we need; experienced and hard-working with desire.

"He really sounds like he can't wait to come to New Zealand and play for us, and that's really nice to hear. From the first day he was positive and he never mentioned any contract terms, he just wanted to play and that was really refreshing for me."

Smith was player of the year with Chester Nomads and West Cheshire League player of the season in 2012/13 before signing for Bala in August 2013 and has gone on to score 21 goals from his 94 Welsh Premier appearances over four seasons.

But he regards the Welsh Cup success as his finest moment: "I think all the Bala fans will remember me for that as it was the first time they had ever won the cup," added Smith, who has committed to return to Maes Tegid when he is back in the UK. "I think that was the greatest achievement in Bala's history probably. From a selfish point of view it was a good way to bow out."