Haverfordwest County exited the JD Welsh Cup at the fourth round stage after a 3-1 defeat to Bala Town at the Ogi Bridge Meadow.
After a goalless first-half in west Wales, the tie was turned on its head by Lakesiders forward Chris Venables, who netted a six-minute hat-trick to see his side through to the quarter-finals.
Mason Jones-Thomas’ fantastic solo effort gave the Bluebirds hope with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, but the north Walians were able to see out the remainder of the match to take the spoils.
Wayne Jones’ side could have been behind early on if it wasn’t for the sharp reactions of goalkeeper Wojciech Gajda, who did well to deny Venables’ headed effort from close range, with Kieran Smith fired the rebound over the crossbar.
There were precious few clear-cut opportunities in the remainder of the opening period, with Jack Wilson’s free-kick just evading the head of a teammate, before Bala’s Ollie Shannon played a ball into the area which somehow beat everyone and rolled to safety.
The Bluebirds went close to taking the lead just one minute after the break when Wilson’s cross found Danny Williams, with the striker’s improvised flicked effort went just wide.
The visitors went ahead when an unmarked Venables met Steven Leslie’s free-kick to head past Gajda.
Colin Caton’s side doubled their lead two minutes later when a shot was blocked inside the area, eventually falling to the Venables, who was able to prod home from close range.
The Lakesiders marksman completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark with a carbon copy of his first goal, as he once again got on the end of a Leslie set-piece to score and complete an impressive afternoon’s work.
County didn’t give up the fight in the last half an hour, and were rewarded for their efforts when Jones-Thomas fired a stunning effort into the top right corner, after the winger had cut inside and beat a couple of opposition players.
The Bluebirds return to JD Cymru Premier action next Saturday (October 23) with a home game against Cefn Druids at the Ogi Bridge Meadow (Kick-off: 14:30)