|Cwmbran Town 0-1 Total Network Solutions
WELSH PREMIER LEAGUE
Saturday 23 August 2003, Away - Cwmbran, 2.30 pmRight: Scott Ruscoe and Adam Moore challenge for the ball.
INSTALLED as favourites for the Welsh Premier title, Saints won their first League appearance of the season - a tough assignment at Cwmbran Town.
Playing in front of less than 200 fans at the Cwmbran Stadium was a down to earth experience for TNS after being watched by more than 34,000 in Manchester last week.
In a generally lacklustre affair, goalkeeper Ged Doherty was brought into action early in the first half when Jamie Edwards fired in a 20-yarder which he could only parry for skipper Gary Brabin to clear the danger.
Doherty then tipped over a Rhodri Jones 20-yard free kick.
After 72 minutes, tempers flared when a midfield clash led to a fracas with Cwmbran's Adam Moore and Saints' Jamie Wood both booked.
As the second half wore on, Saints were getting on top but the game seemed destined for a draw.
With only a couple of minutes left on the clock, Michael Wilde went down in the area under a Neil Smothers challange and, to the astonishment of the home fans, referee Neil Morgan awarded a penalty.
Simon Davies saw his kick saved brilliantly by Cwmbran 'keeper Ellacott, but John Leah chipped in from the rebound and Wilde headed home from close range.
It was too much for Crows' manager Brian Coyne and his physio Tommy Cosh to bear and their vehement protests earned them both their marching orders.
McKenna pleased with perfect start
Ken McKenna was pleased with the result. "Cwmbran are a difficult side to beat and started with 11 men behind the ball," he said.
"They made life very difficult and not many sides will come here and win.
"I didn't see the penalty incident," admitted the boss. "But I thought we deserved to win.
"I changed things around for the last 20 minutes and gambled on three points and it paid off."
But McKenna has major problems ahead of the Manchester City challenge with Chris King and Steve Evans doubtful and Tommy Holmes definitely out.
"What I have to decide is how we play the match.
"Do we show some adventure and possibly receive a hammering or do we play with men behind the ball and try to make it difficult for them.
"That's my problem but, as far as the league is concerned, we've made the perfect start."