Close Encounters With The Robins
It was another tight game with Newtown AFC, as were the two that we played against them last season in the JD Welsh Premier League (JD WPL). In fact, the Boxing Day encounter at Latham Park saw the home side surge into a 2-0 lead, courtesy of ex-TNS striker, Jamie Reed.
As they say though, you can’t keep a good man down, and that’s true on a corporate level as well. With three second-half goals, the visitors took the points, as Scott Ruscoe’s side continued the march to yet another JD WPL title.
Just four days later, it looked like another win was on the cards for the champions, as goals from Greg Draper and Jamie Mullan saw us take a 2-0 lead by the time we hit the 16th minute. However, Park Hall was stunned – or at least the green and white contingent – as Newtown hit back to seal a convincing 4-2 victory.
With time running out, it was our New Zealand international who saved the day. Fouled in the penalty area, the JD WPL’s leading goal scorer took the spot kick himself to make it 1-1.
A well-taken penalty, unfortunately we were unable to add to that in the final quarter of an hour, and the points were shared come the final whistle.
In the disappointment of dropped points, Greg’s goal was a positive, as last season’s JD WPL golden boot looks to retain the coveted accolade.
Unfortunately, with Jon Routledge receiving two yellow cards during the game, The New Saints ended the match with ten players on the pitch. With the second coming in 90+4, it was academic, as ultimately it had no bearing on the final score.
It was, in fact, the third time on the JD WPL bounce that the fixture has seen TNS reduced to ten men. In the previously mentioned games against the Robins, firstly Greg Draper saw Boxing Day red, with Robbie Parry following suit four days later, as his final contribution to 2017 was an early shower.
Still At The Top Of The Pile
With Connah’s Quay Nomads drawing 0-0 at Caernarfon Town the evening before, it was an ideal opportunity for The New Saints to extend the lead at the top to three points. Already leading the way courtesy of a far superior goal difference, a win would have been very welcome indeed.
It wasn’t to be though and sometimes, due to the incredible success of the side, a draw feels like a defeat. However, it wasn’t, and the one point gained means that the lead at the top, as we move into the second phase, is extended to one point.
It’s also worth bearing in mind Newtown’s impressive home form this season. That was the first time that they have dropped points at Latham Park.
With a plus figure of 28, The New Saints is equal to all the other JD WPL sides that have a positive goal difference combined. That includes Connah’s Quay Nomads, who themselves are plus 15.
An interesting statistic, as we hit MD12, is that every team in the tops six is in the black as far as goals are concerned, while the remaining half a dozen are in the red.
Last season we ended the campaign with a plus goal difference of 51 as the other four with a positive figure (Bala Town, Barry Town United, Cardiff Metropolitan University FC and Connah’s Quay Nomads) managed 47 between them.