Toner gets Saints back on semi track
THE New Saints marched into the semi-finals of FAW Premier Cup with a 3-1 win at Porthmadog. But they needed the intervention of sub John Toner to clinch the victory after Port had fought their way back into the game.
The Traeth pitch was in excellent condition considering the heavy rain during the previous 24 hours, although constructive football was difficult. But this failed to faze the Saints,. who totally dominated the first half.
Richard Harris had an excellent early opportunity but finished weakly before TNS took a 27th-minute lead. John Leah finally turned pressure into a goal from Scott Ruscoe's corner, defeating keeper Richard Harvey with a superb 30-yard strike that found the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Soon afterwards, Leah came close to another with a scorching drive from a free-kick 25-yards out, while at the other end in a rare Porthmadog attack, Rhys Roberts went close with a header.
Saints came out with guns blazing after the break but failed to convert their chances and paid the price when Porthmadog scored to drew level with 25 minutes remaining. A Jason Sadler corner caused mayhem in the box and Rhys Roberts stabbed the ball home to give Port hopes of an unlikely victory.
Carl Owen was unlucky not to give the hosts the lead but his powerful header was cleared off the line, then Toner's influence changed the course of events to end their dreams.
After finding the back of the net from a Stones cross only to be denied by a linesman's flag, he made no mistake after Port failed to clear their lines from a corner and King headed the ball back into the box for Toner to strike from eight yards.
He then turned provider, beating his man to the byline before crossing for Stones to head a killer goal in the 88th-minute.
It wasn't all bad news for Port, who bank £15,000 from their foray in the competition, while TNS are guaranteed £25,000 for reaching the last four.