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TNS MARC UNLOCKS THE LIDO
Michael Wilde and John Lawless are challenged by Lido defenders [saints-alive photo]
HISTORY was against Afan Lido in this fixture, after failing to register a home win over TNS in their last six league encounters.
They had two draws but they abandoned that plan and set out their stall looking for something nearer 0-0.
TNS manager Ken McKenna was philosophical after the game.
He said: "They put men behind the ball and set out to make things very difficult for us.
"Add to that the conditions and this was a game where we just had to keep plugging away and keep putting the ball in the danger areas."
The conditions were wet and windy with a pitch that started to cut up badly, which helped the home side's game plan.
Any spectators who wrapped up to brave the elements could hardly expect a classic - and they did not get one.
Play tended to flow from one end of midfield to the other, with little meaningful action in either goalmouth.
Ironically, given the home side's limited ambition, it was Afan Lido who came closer to scoring in the first half. From a corner, Carl Evans was able to get his head to the ball, and the resultant lob left TNS goalkeeper Gerard Doherty grasping at thin air.
However, TNS's man on the line had not wandered, and the ball was cleared.
For the rest of the half, the massed Lido ranks and the soggy outfield combined to keep the league leaders at bay.
It was a patient McKenna who took his side into the dressing room at half-time.
He said: "It is difficult to do a lot tactically in this type of game, we just had to keep pushing and wait for our chance."
Nevertheless, it must have crossed his mind that the chance might not come.
The game reached the 67-minute mark with the scorers still untroubled, and still no sign of a way through the Lido rearguard in open play.
In fact, TNS never did find a way through that way. It took a pair of set-pieces to prise open the determined home defence. After 68 minutes, a free kick from the right found Marc Lloyd-Williams in space.
Since his return to the Welsh Premier, he has not scored at the rate he managed in his last spell.
However, he is still top scorer and knows how to find the net.
He put enough force behind his header to beat Lido goalkeeper Brian Thomas from all of 10 yards out.
TNS still could not put the game to bed and it needed a well-worked move from a corner, three minutes from time, to settle the nerves.
The ball was played back to Martin Naylor, who hit a firm low cross at Lloyd-Williams, who dummied. Mike Wilde finished matters with a brave diving header past the despairing dive of Thomas.
There was still time for Afan Lido to grab a goal, and Karl Reynolds thought he had scored it with a fierce low drive.
However, goalkeepers like clean sheets, and Gerard Doherty threw himself full length to deny him even that small consolation.
With Rhyl being held to a home draw by Haverfordwest, it was a happy team bus that set off back to Llansantffraid.
[Wales on Sunday]
18 December 2020
 
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