Ward hat-trick leaves Crows in trouble
CWMBRAN never recovered from a first-half mauling as a Nicky Ward hat-trick helped Saints to stretch their lead at the top to 15 points.
The struggling Crows are now firmly entrenched in the two-strong drop zone and there appears little or no hope that the inaugural 1992-93 champions will survive.
After TNS goalkeeper Gerard Doherty had done well to save from home midfielder Martyn Phillips, a four-goals-in-20-minutes salvo soon left the Crows dazed and confused.
Ward set the ball rolling when he beat keeper Richard Lancaster to touch in a Steve Evans’ downward header before he made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Lancaster had fouled him.
Scott Ruscoe was next denied by Lancaster when through one-on-one, but made amends moments later by firing in a long-range effort through a crowded goalmouth.
Ward completed his treble by heading in from a Jamie Wood right-wing cross to put TNS four ahead at the break and it could have been even better.
In a one-sided first-half, Graham Evans went close in the early exchanges while Michael Wilde was unable to find the target from three good positions.
With TNS easing off, the Crows gained more possession but simply weren’t strong enough to break through, although Simon Heal's long range lob almost caught Doherty stranded off his line.
So it was left to TNS defender Steve Evans to do it for them by heading past a bewildered Doherty in injury time. Before the blunder, Lancaster was forced off with a head injury with Josh Collins taking over between the sticks, but he was never tested by the Saints' attack.