The New Saints put on a brilliant performance at Park Hall tonight, beating Rhyl by six goals to one.
The Saints opened the scoring through Greg Draper but minutes later David Forbes equalised. However, Sam Finley added a second and Alex Darlington made it three minutes later. Draper completed his brace towards the end of the half and Adrian Cieslewicz scored his first goal for TNS in first half stoppage time. Aeron Edwards scored the sixth in the 46th minute to seal the points in what was a brilliant performance by the Welsh Premier League Champions.
Draper broke the deadlock in the third minute with a brilliant header. Adrian Cieslewicz whipped in a brilliant cross and the TNS number nine was left unmarked in the box and easily headed home past the former TNS goalkeeper, Alex Ramsay.
Barely a second after the restart, The Saints won a penalty. Aeron Edwards was brought down in the box and referee, Ryan Stewart pointed to the spot. Draper stepped up and despite looking confident, Ramsay was able to dive to his right and divert the ball out for a corner.
Ten minutes later and Ramsay was forced into action again. Ryan Fraughan’s brilliant drive was expertly kept out by the former TNS shot stopper.
However, in the 18th minute, Rhyl managed to equalise. David Forbes pounced on a defensive mistake from The Saints and slotted in from six yards out to level the match.
Although Rhyl had worked hard to get back in the game, The Saints restored their one goal advantage a minute later thanks to the once again impressive Finley. The midfielder scored his third goal of the season from close range to put Craig Harrison’s team back in control.
With only ten minutes left to play in the first half, Darlington made it three one to The Saints. Cieslewicz once again provided a brilliant assist by first skipping past a couple of Rhyl defenders before picking our the former Wrexham man, who calmly controlled the ball and poked it in from eight yards out to put his side in complete control.
The Saints nearly added a fourth goal through Draper but his header went wide after, another brilliant cross from Cieslewicz had picked him out at the back post.
TNS did add a fourth soon after thanks to Draper. Simon Spender’s shot was deflected and Draper managed to poke the ball in after a goalmouth scramble.
Things got worse for Greg Strong’s side in first half stoppage time. The wonderful Cieslewicz capped off a brilliant performance with a goal although Ramsay should have kept it out as the ball slipped under him to ensure that The Saints went into the break leading by five goals to one.
The second half started with The Saints scoring a sixth goal. Fraughan picked out the energetic Edwards who powerfully headed in from inside the six yard box.
The Saints controlled the second half and nearly added a seventh goal but Darlington’s shot was blocked by Matty Woodward.
Substitutes Scott Quigley, Chris Seargeant and Ryan Edwards were brought on at the hour mark as the home side cruised to three points.
With only a few minutes left to play Quigley nearly got in on the act but his powerful shot was wonderfully kept out by Ramsay.
Full time: TNS 6-1 Rhyl.
The New Saints: Paul Harrison (C), Simon Spender, Phil Baker, Connell Rawlinson, Chris Marriott , Alex Darlington, Sam Finley (Ryan Edwards 59), Aeron Edwards (Chris Seargeant 59), Ryan Fraughan (Scott Quigley 59), Adrian Cieslewicz and Greg Draper.
The unused substitutes were Luke Douglas, Mike Wilde, Ryan Pryce and Fisnik Hadjari.
Rhyl: Alex Ramsay, Matty Woodward (Paul O’Neill 76),Stefan Halewood, Ryan Astles, David Thompson, Michael Walsh, Paul McManus (C), Liam Dawson, Jack Kenny, Rob Hughes and David Forbes (Ashley Scott 59).
The unused substitutes for Rhyl were Lloyd Ellams, Mark Cadwallaer, Michael Askew, Julian Williams and Jamie Whitehouse.