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MATCH REPORT BY DAVID FIGG
The New Saints opened up a 9 point gap at the top of the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League after a dramatic last gasp 3-2 win away to Newtown at Mid Wales Leisure Latham Park on Saturday.
Craig Harrison’s side had gone into the weekend’s games with a 7 point lead over second placed Aberystwyth Town but Aber’s 0-4 defeat away to Bala Town on Friday night saw The Lakesiders leapfrog Aber into second place and cut the gap to 6 points.
However, Saints’ win on their first visit to Newtown since The Robins’ new artificial pitch was installed in the summer saw them extend their lead to 9 points ahead of Airbus UK Broughton’s trip to Cefn Druids on Sunday. An Airbus win would see them move up to second and close the gap to 7 points ahead The Wingmakers’ visit to Park Hall this Sunday.
Meanwhile, Newtown had gone into the game in 6th place on the back of having had a 6 match unbeaten run ended with a 1-2 home defeat by Gap Connah’s Quay in their previous game the previous Saturday.
The first chance came Newtown’s way just after the start of the 4th minute when Steffan Edwards fed Tom Goodwin on the left whose through ball found Matthew Hearsey, who played it infield to the on-running Goodwin whose right foot shot went wide of Saints keeper Paul Harrison’s right hand post.
Just 32 seconds later (still in the 4th minute), Saints took the lead when Adrian Cieslewicz beat 2 men before finding Aeron Edwards who waltzed through the home defence before firing a low right foot shot into Robins keeper David Jones’ bottom right hand corner.
Saints went close to doubling their lead in the 10th minute when Simon Spender fed Scott Quigley wide on the right, who cut in past 2 men before firing a low left foot drive not far wide of Jones’ left hand post.
Then at the same end in the 16th minute, Spender linked with Alex Darlington before having his shot from inside the box well blocked with his legs by Jones. Seconds later at the same end, Cieslewicz’ cross from the left was tipped over the bar by Jones.
The visitors were dominating the first half and it was 2-0 in the 24th minute when Cieslewicz latched onto a through ball and ran powerfully through the middle and then wide on the left before squaring infield for Mike Wilde, who was left with an easy tap in for his 7th goal of the season in all competitions.
Newtown went close to pulling a goal back in the 25th minute when Hearsey’s cross from the left found Jason Oswell, whose header rebounded back off Harrison’s left hand post before the ball was worked back to Hearsey on the left who crossed for Craig Williams to fire agonisingly wide of Harrison’s left hand post.
Just a minute later, Newtown did pull a goal back when Goodwin’s through ball down the middle found the possibly offside Oswell, who was left with a one on one with Harrison before tucking the ball past the keeper.
Then at the other end in the 32nd minute, Quigley ran forward before having his right foot shot from the edge of the box comfortably gathered by Jones.
Then at the other end 2 minutes later when Hearsey’s cross from the left was only half cleared to Goodwin, whose header from the edge of the box went wide of Harrison’s right hand post.
The next chance came Saints’ way in the 39th minute when Kai Edwards sent a free kick from 35 yards past Jones’ left hand post.
Then at the other end 34 seconds into a scheduled 1 minute of added time at the end of the half when Craig Williams’ free kick found Shane Sutton who sent a free header over the bar from 8 yards.
The first chance of the second half came Newtown’s way in the 49th minute when Williams curled from near the left corner of the box wide of Harrison’s right hand post.
Then in the 52nd minute with Newtown having the better of the second half possession, the hosts equalised when Goodwin fed Hearsey on the left who ran into the box and cut along the byeline before beating his man and firing home from a tight angle for a great individual goal.
Then at the same end in the 61st minute, Williams fed Neil Mitchell on the right who turned Connell Rawlinson near the byeline before sending his cross into the side netting at the near post.
After Saints had made a double change in the 65th minute with Jamie Mullan replacing Quigley and Chris Seargeant replacing Darlington, a further chance came The Robins’ way in the 72nd minute when Hearsey’s cross saw Oswell miss the opportunity at the far post.
Then in the 89th minute a great chance came Newtown’s way when, less than a minute after coming for Oswell, sub Alex Hughes ran on to a through ball and his first touch saw him turn the Saints defence to leave him with a one on one with Harrison before having his powerful shot superbly saved to his left by the keeper for a corner.
Then with the 4th official having indicated there would be a minimum of 5 minutes added time at the end, Newtown had a shout for a penalty when Hughes’ shot from outside the box on the right appeared to hit a Saints defender on the arm inside the box but Aberdare referee Richard Harrington waved away their claims.
Then 2 seconds after the 5 scheduled minutes of added time had elapsed and with Newtown on the verge of earning a more than well deserved point, Saints dramatically won it against the run of play and with a huge slice of luck when a speculative right foot shot from 25 yards by Seargeant took a wicked deflection off a Robins player to leave keeper Jones stranded as the ball went into the keeper’s top left hand corner off the underside of the bar.
It was cruel luck on Newtown’s part as they had done so well to come back from 0-2 down but after a further 65 seconds of added time had been played, the final blast of referee Harrington’s whistle signalled a heartbreaking defeat for the hosts whilst the Saints players and supporters celebrated moving 9 points clear at the top.
Newtown: David Jones, Steffan Edwards, Matty Owen, Kieran Mills-Evans, Shane Sutton, Matthew Hearsey, Luke Boundford, Jason Oswell, Neil Mitchell, Craig Williams, Tom Goodwin. Subs: Jack Perry (GK) (not used), Jamie Price (not used), Alex Hughes (for Oswell 88), David Easthope (not used), Sean Evans (for Hearsey 81).
Saints: Paul Harrison, Simon Spender, Phil Baker, Kai Edwards, Connell Rawlinson, Mike Wilde, Alex Darlington, Adrian Cieslewicz, Scott Quigley, Aeron Edwards, Ryan Pryce. Subs: Scott Ruscoe (not used), Greg Draper (for Pryce 88), Chris Seargeant (for Darlington 65), Jamie Mullan (for Quigley 65), Ryan Kershaw (not used), Chris Mullock (GK) (not used), Fisnik Hadjari (not used).
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