Just the one change this afternoon, following the Nathaniel MG Cup victory at Connah's Quay Nomads, as Chris Marriott comes in for Callum Roberts.
Returning from injury, Blaine Hudson is on the bench.#JDWPL pic.twitter.com/RDkmmTXErM
— The New Saints FC (@tnsfc) November 25, 2017
Five Star Saints Back On Top
Following Bangor City’s win against Bala Town on Friday evening, which took The Citizens to the head of the table, TNS’ victory at home to Carmarthen Town saw the current champions leapfrog their rivals to retain pole position (barring a big win for Cardiff Met FC in their upcoming weekend game against Connah’s Quay Nomads) going into the league break.
With JD Welsh Cup action next weekend, the three points ensure Scott Ruscoe’s side keep their noses in front of the pack in what is turning out to be an exciting title race so far.
It was the visitors though, basement side Carmarthen, who took a shock – but not undeserved – lead in the second minute. Although Spender cleared the ball, the assistant on the far side indicated that Kyle Williams’ effort had crossed the line.
The early minutes belonged to the visitors, although TNS began to haul themselves back into the game. The equaliser came in the 16th minute, when Jamie Mullan crossed into the box from the right hand side. Greg Draper turned and fired in the bottom corner as Lee Idzi was unable to keep the shot out.
A minute later, Routledge chipped the ball with the outside of his foot, only for his shot to be comfortably saved by the keeper.
With the game almost at the one-quarter stage, the ex-Bangor City stopper was unable to prevent Wes Fletcher giving the home side the advantage. In a crowded box he found the net, as The Saints began to stamp their authority on the game.
Five minutes later, a cushion was created as Ryan Leak, on loan from English Championship high-flyers Wolverhampton Wanderers, grabbed his first senior goal. A close-range effort from a Fletcher cross, that for many watching the game meant the three points were all but secured.
However, that confidence lasted just two minutes, as The Old Gold hit back courtesy of Liam Walsh. With five goals in the first half hour, it was an entertaining one for the neutral at least.
As the half drew to a close both sides had chances, as Ryan Brobbel shot over, followed by good work from Kostya Georgievsky down the right ending with Paul Harrison saving from Williams.
The start of the second period saw the return of Blaine Hudson from injury, as he replaced Fletcher. The return to match fitness for the towering central defender is a big positive for the squad, even if it does create managerial selection headaches for Ruscoe.
With just the one goal dividing the teams, Carmarthen knew they were still very much in the game as they created opportunities, including a Griffiths chip that was off-target.
The home side also made opportunities as well, with the likes of Mr. Versatile, Aeron Edwards, and Northern Ireland U21 international Brobbel, both among those who looked to extend the lead.
It wasn’t until the final minute though that the game was finally put to bed, as Brobbel and Routledge interacted to set up Mullan.
In the three minutes of added time, it was truly game, set and match as The New Saints scored to register a 5-2 victory, following a low cross played in the box.
Originally recorded as an own goal, the JD WPL have since credited the strike to Jamie Mullan, who thus ended the game with two goals in as many minutes.
In the dying seconds, as part of a double substitution, Ben Clark came on to make his JD WPL debut for The New Saints.
Goals: Draper (16), Fletcher (22), Leak (27), Mullan (90, 90+2)
Substitutions: Hudson for Fletcher (46), Darlington for Draper (90+1), Clark for Routledge (90+1)
Photo: Brian Jones. View the gallery on our Facebook page HERE.
|November 25, 2017||2:30 pm||Welsh Premier League||2017 - 2018|
|Park Hall Stadium|
|The Venue, Burma Rd, Whittington, Oswestry SY11 4AS, UK|
|The New Saints FC||5|