The New Saints advanced into the fourth round of the FAW Welsh Cup, after beating Conwy Borough two one in extra time, at Y Morfa, thanks to goals from Matty Williams and Alex Darlington.
Craig Harrison’s men took the lead early on through Williams but a late goal from Phil Doran ensured extra time. Substitute Darlington gave his side the lead at the start of extra time and The Saints withstood heavy pressure to claim their place in the next round.
The game started at a frenetic pace and within minutes of the kick off, Sam Finley was yellow carded.
The Saints opened the scoring after seven minutes. Chris Marriott’s wonderful run down the left ended up with Williams expertly finding the top corner. The TNS number three dribbled into the box and set up Williams, who kept his cool to put his side in front.
With the pitch making it very difficult to play free flowing football, the game became very scrappy, with both teams making a number of forceful tackles and misplaced passes.
However, despite the pitch not allowing Harrison’s men to play their usual style, Williams’ clever footwork released Aeron Edwards down the left and when the energetic midfielder found Ryan Fraughan in space, the former Stockport County winger could only fire over from just inside the box.
A minute later, Fraughan tried again. This time Louie Makin in the Conwy goal denied the tricky winger. Marriott once again produced the cross but Fraughan’s powerful volley was palmed out as TNS looked to add to their one goal advantage.
Minutes before half time, Edwards played Williams in but despite the former Manchester United man hitting a powerful shot on target, Makin once again denied the visitors with a good save.
Greg Draper nearly doubled the lead after wonderfully rounding Makin but somehow Matty Holt made an excellent last ditch tackle to prevent the striker. The Conwy defender prevented Draper tapping in from close range, as the New Zealand international composed himself, by dramatically diving in and clearing the ball.
The second half started with the visitors continuing to try and keep the ball but with rain starting to fall harder, the pitch was gradually getting worse.
Chris Jones and Mike Wilde both came on with 64 minutes gone and within seconds, the latter nearly got on the score sheet but was thwarted by Makin.
With the home side battling on, TNS had to stay focused and despite Conwy throwing men forward, Paul Harrison had little to do.
However, Alan Bull who had replaced Aden Shannon, forced the TNS captain into a wonderful save. The striker stooped low and his goal bound header was magnificently kept out by Harrison.
Conwy finally found a way through and it was Doran who scored in the 88th minute, to take the cup tie to extra time .
With The Saints controlling the majority of the play in the first half of extra time, the breakthrough inevitably came. Nine minutes into extra time, Williams set up Darlington and the dynamic striker made no mistake, as he slotted the ball in from 12 yards out. The substitute calmly controlled the ball before firing into the bottom corner.
At the start of the second half of extra time, Jones had a chance to finish the game off but hit his shot straight at Makin as Conwy started to tire.
The home side kept on plugging away and despite a couple of dangerous long throws, TNS held on to ensure a place in the next round, after a hard fought cup tie victory.
The New Saints line up for the game was Paul Harrison (C), Simon Spender, Chris Marriott, Connell Rawlinson, Kai Edwards, Aeron Edwards, Chris Seargeant, Sam Finley (Mike Wilde 61), Ryan Fraughan (Chris Jones 61), Greg Draper (Alex Darlington ) and Matty Williams.
The unused substitutes for The Saints were Phil Baker and Aaron Simms.
The Conwy Borough line up was Louie Makin, Matty Holt, Phil Doran, Chris King (C), Gareth Sudlow, Levi Makin, Ryan Wignall, Peter Doran (Sean Myler 85), Mike Jukes (Steve Connor 91), Aden Shannon (Alan Ball 64) and Ellis Holding.
The unused substitutes for Conwy were Barry Hogan and Steve Cunningham.