Total Network Solutions v Rhyl FC
Loosemores Challenge Cup 2nd Round, 1st Leg
Joy for Rhyl as Lee Atherton (left) and
celebrate their last-gasp winner against TNS last month [Robert Parry
Tuesday 9 December 2003: Home - Treflan, 7.30pm
RHYL return to the scene of their recent Welsh Premier triumph tonight for a second round Loosemores Challenge Cup tie (kick-off 7.30pm).
Although their 3-2 league win was a surprise, it was hardly a shock as the Lilywhites went through a purple patch in November which has deservedly given boss John Hulse the manager of the month award.
Home wins against Cwmbran and Welshpool and another away success at Bangor lifted Rhyl to second place in the table and, despite Hulse's protestations that his side are not the finished article, they look serious title challengers.
Saints' manager Ken McKenna is ready for a battle once again.
"Rhyl are the holders and I'm sure they'll want to keep their hands on the trophy," he said.
"It's going to be a difficult game against a good side, but it's important we make the most of home advantage.
"We defended badly when we met in the league - it was just one of those days, so we'll need to turn in a better performance."
Saints-Rhyl games are a bit like TNS v TNS Old Boys these days!
With Tim Edwards, Gary and Mark Powell, Robbie Wood, Gareth Wilson and Marc Limbert in the Belle Vue ranks, there is a familiar look about many positions in the side.
Rhyl's winning sequence did finally come to an end on Saturday, when the Lilywhites were unable to beat Newtown at Belle Vue - Steve Futcher’s injury time equaliser denied Rhyl all three points in a game which, by all accounts, they could and should have won.
Saints will be looking to up the tempo on Saturday's second half performance at Afan Lido, when they allowed a 3-0 half-time lead to be whittled down to a one goal margin.
Says Ken McKenna: "We took our foot off the gas which allowed Lido to get a full head of steam.
"We still seem to think we can turn it on and off when we feel like it, which is something we've got to work on."
Complacency has been a hallmark of several Saints' displays this term, not least when they surrendered a 2-1 lead against tonight's visitors. They must surely guard against a repeat performance.
TNS will again be without John Leah, Scott Ruscoe and John Toner for this first leg - the second game is at Rhyl next Tuesday night (16 December).