Saints battle past Bala

The New Saints beat Bala Town by three goals to one at Maes Tegid thanks to goals from Phil Baker an own goal by the former TNS player Connall Murtagh and Mike Wilde.

The Saints opened the scoring through Phil Baker, who calmly converted in from close range. Murtagh added a second for his former club after a great bit of wing play by Chris Jones. The home side pulled a goal back through the impressive Connolly but soon after Wilde headed in from close range to ensure that The Saints got back to winning ways.

The game had started with The Saints looking comfortable on the ball and after ten minutes Chris Marriott, who was starting his first game since his terrible injury, picked up a yellow card after bringing down Kieran Smith. Moments later Wilde joined the consistent left back by adding his name into the referee’s book after handling in the Bala box.

With 18 minutes gone, Phil Baker opened the scoring with a great finish at the back post. The strong centre back was wonderfully picked out by an out swinging Chris Seargeant free-kick and the TNS number four calmly volleyed in past the stranded Ashley Morris.

Soon after, Baker attempted an audacious effort from the edge of the box. Having opened the scoring, the former Bangor City defender attempted to double his tally but his thunderous shot flew just over the bar.

With the weather deteriorating by the minute, the game had turned into a scrappy affair but shortly before the break, Kai Edwards found himself on the edge of the box and curled his left footed effort inches over the bar. A minute later Mark Connolly tested Paul Harrison with a long range drive which the TNS captain confidently dealt with.

During time added on in the first half, The Saints incredibly hit the cross bar twice in a matter of seconds. Firstly Chris Jones rattled a powerful shot against the bar, before the ball fell kindly to Ryan Fraughan and the former Tranmere Rovers winger, curled a superb shot against the woodwork to ensure that the Oswestry based side went into half time with a only a one goal advantage.

Craig Harrison’s men started the second half well but early into the second half the home side thought they had equalised. Connolly headed in from close range but the referee disallowed the goal after the former Rhyl man was adjudged to have pushed Kai Edwards during the build up.

With half an hour left to play, Jones did magnificently well to play Wilde in and last season’s Golden Boot winner was unlucky not to add his name on to the score sheet due to some great defending by the Bala defenders.

Former Swansea City winger Jones, was once again amongst the action again and this time his brilliant cross was deflected in by Connall Murtagh, to give TNS a two nil lead. The flying winger dribbled his way into the box before rolling the ball into a dangerous area and the former Saint, Murtagh accidently diverted it in.

The home side pulled a goal back through Connolly with 15 minutes left. Smith did really well to get past Marriott and delivered a dangerous cross that Connolly raced onto and slotted past Harrison.

During the last ten minutes The Lakesiders really pushed forward and despite applying heavy pressure, Wilde excellently headed in another Seargeant out swinging free kick into the top corner. The Birkenhead born forward lost his marker and powered an unstoppable header past Morris to ensure that The New Saints picked up the three points.

The New Saints line up for the game was Paul Harrison(C), Simon Spender, Chris Marriott, Phil Baker, Kai Edwards, Aeron Edwards, Chris Seargeant, Sam Finley, Ryan Fraughan (Jamie Mullan 72), Chris Jones and Mike Wilde.

On the bench for The Saints were Alex Darlington, Greg Draper, Chris Mullock, Connell Rawlinson, Aaron Simms, Jamie Mullan and Ryan Kershaw.

The Bala Town line up was Ashley Morris, Ben Collins, Ryan Valentine, Connall Murtagh, Mark Connolly, Mark Jones (C), Edwin Renaud, Kenny Lunt, Ian Sheridan and Kieran Smith.

On the bench for the home side were Matthew Boswell, Stephen Fisher, Steffan Edwards, Ryan Wyn Jones, Lewis Codling and Chris Mason.