Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saints shrug-off red card for Llanelli win

THE New Saints maintained their title challenge with a 2-0 win at Llanelli despite playing the last 40 minutes with 10 men.

Second-half goals from Greg Draper and Aeron Edwards sealed a thoroughly-deserved victory as the Saints shrugged-off the dismissal of central defender Connell Rawlinson for a studs-up challenge on midfielder Kris Thomas.
In a fairly evenly-contested first half, Edwards sent a diving header just over the bar on the quarter hour and Draper's shot hit defender Lee Surman's forehead on the line before being cleared to safety.
Draper also just failed to connect with a teasing Nicky Ward cross after a one-two with Tom Roberts, while the Reds' only effort was a shot from Chris Venables which went well wide.
TNS took the lead on 49 minutes when Ryan Fraughan found Draper, who kept his cool to sidestep Kris Thomas and beat keeper Ashley Morris from 12 yards for his 16th goal of the season.
Saints were hardly weakened at the back as former Welsh international Steve Evans replaced Rawlinson two minutes later and they went on to dominate the proceedings, with S4/C pundit and Port Talbot manager commenting "they've looked just as good a side with 10 men as 11".
The second goal arrived just past the hour when Draper picked-out a well-timed run by Edwards who ran beyond the Reds' defence to score.
Sub Craig Jones almost made it three, but home keeper Ashley Morris produced a reaction save before Paul Harrison, who was rarely called into action, did equally well to keep out a shot from Craig Moses four minutes from time.
Rhys Griffiths, who was hardly given a sniff throughout the game, sent a header just over the bar, but Saints maintained a clean sheet, with Fraughan voted man-of-the-match by S4/C, just ahead of the energetic Edwards.
Photo: Aeron Edwards celebrates the second goal.

Shoot-out woe

Wrexham v TNS
The Saints suffered the agony of a 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat to Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground in the 2006 semi-final.
TNS twice led the League Two outfit in normal time and again the shoot-out, before goalkeeper Gerard Doherty (above consoled by Chris King) missed the vital spot kick.

Ninian joy

Cardiff City v TNS
TNS beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Ninian Park on their way to the 2007 final success. John Leah is pictured celebrating with Jamie Wood.