Not many gave Cefn Druids much of a chance against The New Saints last Friday evening at The Rock. So, although the final scoreline of 2-2 was obviously a massive plus for those associated with The Ancients, what about TNS? Was it a case of two points dropped or one gained? Well, in some ways it was both but above all, as far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t the end of the world.
I’ve been an avid follower of Welsh football for a few years now and one thing that I firmly believe is that the standard is increasing year on year. Yes, there are games that do turn out to be more comfortable than others but overall we do have to be at the very top of our game in order to consistently pick up three points week after week. I would go as far as to say there are no ‘easy’ fixtures.
In the seventeen league wins to date, nine of them have been by more than two goals, with two-thirds of those having been against what are now bottom-six clubs. Two 3-0 victories against Bala Town – who themselves had a poor start to the season – plus a 4-0 at home to Cefn Druids have been the three wins by a more than two-goal margin against the top half.
Seven victories have been by one goal and just one match saw a margin of two – the 3-1 against Cefn Druids in November of last year.
Now at this point let me emphasise that I’m not putting TNS down, quite the opposite. I’m stressing just how the standard of football in the Welsh top flight is on the up. The competition is improving, but then again it’s healthy and it’s working, because it’s pushing the club and we still continue to lead the way.
Cefn Druids has been the surprise package as far as the top six is concerned, and as they showed last Friday they’re not there just to make up the numbers. The approach that they took to TNS is one that they will replicate in the remaining nine games and it’s just a matter of who they will take points off, not if.
As far as I’m concerned, although anything other than a win is always a disappointment, ultimately a draw at The Rock isn’t the end of the world. There is still a healthy twelve-point lead at the top of the JD Welsh Premier League with just nine games to go. The next two league fixtures – against second and third placed Bangor City and Connah’s Quay Nomads respectively – are massive though.
With the Irn-Bru Cup semi-final sandwiched inbetween, February is a defining month as far as The New Saints is concerned.
Lead photograph: Action from last weekend at The Rock. Credit: Phil Blagg.
Rev’s Ramblings is a weekly blog, following my adventures with the champions of Wales from a personal perspective.