On Wednesday (13th September 2017), 15 of the the new Professional Phase players faced Myerscough, in the first ESCFA Category 1 League game of the season. The opening whistle signalled an historic moment, as it was the first time ever that TNS has had a representative team in the top flight of UK college football.
It was a very young squad that faced tough opposition, with the average age just 16-17 years old, including several new faces on board. They played some excellent, crisp-passing football as they constantly probed the opponents’ rearguard.
It was a penalty that broke the deadlock, as Callum Jones put The New Saints ahead. It was a disappointed Steve Benyon though: “In all honesty, it could and should have been more. There was a lot of wasteful finishing in front of goal.”
The Saints were punished as the visitors went into the break on level terms, courtesy of the last kick of the first half.
It went from bad to worse as a sloppy start to the second period saw a poor goal conceded. However, the dip proved to be a rallying point as the response was superb. With goals from James Parry, Tomos Williams and Harry Bower, the final score was 4-2 to TNS.
Benyon was quick to praise not only his own side but also the visitors from Lancashire: “Credit to all the players, including the new ones added to the squad. Also to Myerscough, who kept probing till the end.”
Continuing with his assessment of his squad, he added: “The players are starting to adapt to the different demands and training regime, with everyone contributing in a positive and effective manner. Now on to Friday’s training session, as we prepare for Sunday’s game away at Flint.”
“What is pleasing is to see how many talented players have missed out on the squad today who certainly deserve a place. Again it goes to show the real strength in depth I have at my disposal and now we really need to stay grounded and prepare correctly for Sunday’s game.” he concluded, with a familiar message that highlights the quality available to him and the difficulty in not only who to pick but also who to leave out.
The squad for the Myerscough game, with goals in brackets.
1. Lewis Dutton
2. Matt Cole
3. James Parry (1)
4. Liam Ihekwoaba
5. Lewis Kaye
6. Paul Naylor
7. Harry Bower (1)
8. James Gregory-Cork
9. Guyguy Maboy
10. Callum Jones (1)
11. Ismael Ozdemir
12. Byron Bingham
14. Andrew Papirnyk
15. Curtis Weetman
16. Tomos Williams (1)