SAINTS PREVAIL IN THE RAIN
WITH the game in doubt due to the torrential rain and heavy conditions, the referee ruled the pitch playable and the visitors made light of the conditions, passing the ball around with some flair and in the process keeping TNS goalkeeper Paul Smith fully occupied, producing from him a string of fine saves to deny the Reds attack.
The visitors took the lead through Harries who made no mistake after seven minutes, slotting the chance past Smith inside the near post following excellent approach work by both Jamie Bowen and Nicky Palmer.
When Toner found Nick Welton in space, Hidle pushed out his close range attempt, before a swift counter attack by the Reds led to Dickeson picking out Bowen who made ground before squaring a pass back into the path of Dickeson to strike, and Smith did well to firstly parry and then gather the effort.
The goalkeeper pulled off another great save to deny Palmer, while a far post cross by Dickeson led to his shot being blocked on the line and eventually scramble clear.
Mark Roberts got in a saving tackle to nick the ball away from Dickeson as he burst into the area and Andy Hill was denied by Smith who got down well to save at his near post.
Just before the interval, another sweeping move by the Reds started by Dickeson and carried on by Anthony Wright set up Bowen for another opportunity, but again Smith was equal to it, pushing the ball around for a corner.
With the strong wind and driving rain in their faces in the second half, the visitors were less effective but still kept trying to pass the ball on every occasion, in contrast to the home side who mainly relied on route one tactics.
A neat move involving Harries, Rob King and Bowen put Palmer in with a chance, but he was just beaten to the ball by a despairing defensive boot as he was about to unleash a shot.
Hill came to the Reds aid, heading an inswinging corner by Maurice Doyle off the line, before Smith with some difficulty, pushed over a high, hanging cross from King.
From the resulting corner by Bowen, the ball went across the face of the goal and Palmer narrowly failed to make contact.
Another forceful run by Palmer at the heart of TNS defence eventually led to him setting up Dickeson, but again Smith dived full length to divert his shot inches around the upright.
The visitors looked to be in trouble when a quick home counter attack left Richard Jenkins as the sole defender with Toner and two other players up in support, but he stood his ground and robbed Toner of the ball to relieve the danger, and then repeated the effort minutes later to again dispossess the TNS striker when he threatened to break clear.
With time running out, it seemed as if the Reds had done enough to earn at least a point, but a disastrous closing quarter saw them conceded two more goals, the first coming from a far post cross by Alexander which Toner met to head home after 75 minutes, and he wrapped up matters by completing his hat trick on the stroke of full time, connecting with a low centre by Welton to force the ball home, and give the final scoreline a somewhat flattering slant.