Having already lifted the Nathaniel MG Trophy (Welsh League Cup) this season, The New Saints of Oswestry Town look to make it a second appearance in a final, as Dumbarton visit Park Hall in the Irn-Bru Cup.
The semi-final tie this Saturday (February 17, 2018), is an opportunity for the Welsh champions to go one better, having stumbled at the corresponding hurdle last season against St. Mirren.
While all games in 2016/2017 were on the road, this time round it’s been the reverse, as TNS have been first out of the hat on all four occasions.
The road to the semi-final began in September when Livingston – who were also opponents last time round – equalised a 20th minute Aeron Edwards header as the game then went to extra-time and penalties. Having already saved two spot-kicks, Paul Harrison converted to put his side ahead, with Livingston then missing their chance to level things, with TNS going through 6-5.
The third round tie, a month later, saw a much more comfortable victory, as Elgin City were beaten 4-0. There were five changes from the previous game, another cup tie, as the side that beat Flint Town United in the Nathaniel MG Cup was also boosted by the return of Connell Rawlinson from injury. A brace from Draper, plus goals from Edwards and Mullan, saw TNS progress further in the competition.
The November encounter with Queen of The South once more saw goalkeeper and captain, Paul Harrison, in the spotlight. Following two hours of open-play deadlock, like the Livingston game before, the tie went to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
After saving the visitors’ opening penalty, Harrison went on to convert once more to put TNS 4-3 ahead. With QotS needing to find the net to keep themselves in the game, H then turned double-hero, as he not only scored what proved to be the winner but saved the spot-kick that confirmed the victory.
Our visitors, who currently find themselves in ninth place in a ten-team Scottish Premiership, began their road to the semi-final with a 2-1 home victory against a Rangers U-20 side. This was followed by the same scoreline – albeit after extra-time – as they defeated JD Welsh Premier side, Connah’s Quay Nomads.
For the third game on the bounce, another 2-1 saw The Sons progress in the competition, again at home, this time with Stranraer the visitors.
Although home advantage continued, with Raith Rovers the quarter-final opponents, the result sequence was broken – only just though – as a 2-0 victory saw Stephen Aitken’s side make it to the last four in the competition.
The kick-off this Saturday is 7.35 p.m. and you can find more information on tickets here. The officials are led by League of Ireland referee, Neil Doyle, who will be assisted by Ian Bird and Phil Thomas, with Rob Jenkins the fourth official. Completing the quartet of Welshmen is match delegate, Dave Fawkes.
We wish everyone a safe journey to and from Park Hall. Especially if it is your first visit, we hope that you will enjoy the experience.
The game is live on S4C, and as always, TNS Radio will be bringing commentary and chat with the link on the home page of our website.
Lead photograph: Harrison the penalty shoot-out hero as TNS progress against Queen of the South. Credit: Mike Sheridan.