Louis Robles targets more European goals after returning to Bala Town

Let’s rewind back to May 5th, 2023, and to Maes Tegid.

That afternoon, Newtown went to Bala Town and defeated them in the semi-finals of the European play-offs 4-2.

It would be the first time in three seasons that the Lakesiders didn’t make Europe. Part of the Newtown team that day was former Bala star Louis Robles, but that Robins side would lose on penalties to Haverfordwest County.

One year later, and Robles is back at Bala, and is back in Europe with Colin Caton’s men. Robles’ last game for Bala came in 2020, before going on to have stints with TNS and Newtown. Now he’s back in the north of Gwynedd and says it’s somewhere he always knew he’d come back to in his career.

“Bala is a place where I built a good relationship with players and staff. I left on really good terms, and I kept in contact with them ever since. In the back of my mind, Bala was always somewhere I thought I knew I could come back to at some point in my career. With them getting into Europe as well, it makes that decision a little easier.”

No Europe for Bala and for Robles last year was difficult, especially seeing other JD Cymru Premier sides doing well on the continent. The forward does believe, however, that last year’s absence will drive his team on this year.

“When you’re not in Europe and you see other clubs in the league playing there, it does make you a little bit jealous. For example, seeing Haverfordwest winning last year, you are jealous, and you want to be part of that, because they are magical nights. It definitely gives you more hunger to be more successful this year.”

Now they’re back on the European stage, and their first opponents in this year’s UEFA Conference League are Paide Linnameeskond of Estonia. Paide are currently in season and have played sides like Anderlecht in Europe before. However, Robles is confident his team can pull off a big win.

“We don’t know a great deal about them in all fairness. The Estonian League is streamed live on YouTube, so we have had a little look at them. We know they’re going to be competitive.

“They’re in season in a top European league, so we have to show them full respect. We are at home first, which is a slight disadvantage, but we will go in full of confidence. With them being in season and match sharp, they will fancy their chances as much as we fancy ours.”

Luckily for Bala, in Robles, they have someone who knows how to find the back of the net in European competition. The former TNS man has scored in vital moments for the Saints in the past, and he’s looking to once again finding the target for Bala.

“It’s probably one of my best achievements in my career so far scoring away to Viktoria Plzeň. I scored against Žalgiris from Lithuania as well, and the season before that scored against Žilina of Slovakia. I’ve been fortunate enough to score in Europe a couple of times, and there’s no better feeling than scoring on a European stage, and it’s something I’ll be striving to do this year.”

It was back in 2020 that Bala advanced from the first qualifying round of a European competition. If they are to do so again this year, Robles says it would be an achievement that would go a long way, especially for the season ahead.

“It would mean everything to us to get into the next round. It’s no secret what impact it would make financially on the club.

“But more than anything, if we as a team can win a round in Europe, that can do wonders for confidence and morale heading into the league campaign. To say we’ve won a round in Europe would be amazing, and it’s something the lads are relishing to do.”

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