Saints slump to Maesydre defeat
FROM the comfort zone of needing one point from their last four games to clinch the title, The New Saints now need one from their remaining two after going down to a second successive league defeat at Maesydre.
For the second time in four days, the party was ready to start, but Aden Shannon's 60th-minute penalty ensured the celebrations are on hold at least until Saturday.
This was a better performance from TNS than the 1-3 defeat to Caernarfon and they hardly deserved to lose a game in which Welshpool barely raised a shot on target.
Route one was the order of the day on a hard and bumpy surface and it played into Welshpool's hands as the front pair of Michael Wilde and Carl Lamb foundered with referee Lee Evans constantly penalising for fouls.
Chances were few and far between in the first-half, with Scott Ruscoe sending an early shot wide and Lamb's effort deflected for a corner. But Ruscoe came close to breaking the deadlock in the 34th-minute when keeper Gerard McGuigan saw a close range shot hit his knee and rebound to safety.
Welshpool's only effort came from ex-TNS midfielder Richard Harris, who was miles over the bar with a 20-yarder just before the break.
The second-half continued in the same vein, but Pool mounted a period of pressure which led to the goal, as the Saints found it difficult to break out of their own half. John Leah was robbed on the byline and adjudged to have fouled Harris as he tried to recover and Shannon made no mistake, sending Gerard Doherty the wrong way from the spot kick.
Ken McKenna sent on John Toner and then Oscar Gonzalez alongside Lamb and Wilde in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser and Saints finally upped the tempo to pressure the Pool defence.
But Wilde was wide with a header from Toner's cross and then hit the post at close quarters from a Lamb cross. McGuigan just held on to Lamb's 20-yarder before Toner missed a difficult chance from a yard out, skying Wilde's goalbound header over the bar.
Welshpool - and keeper McGuigan in particular - ran down the clock to hold onto the lead and leave the Saints frustratingly still with only one hand on the championship trophy.