Holden shines in Lairds win
KEN McKenna rested the majority of players who had featured in Wednesday night's Champions League defeat in Latvia, but The New Saints still proved too strong for Cammell Laird.
They beat the Unibond Leaguers 2-0 at the Kirklands Stadium with goals in each half from Alfie Carter and trialist Luke Holden, who had an outstanding game.
There was more than a hint of the Welsh Premier about the hosts, managed by former Rhyl assistant Neil Young, who featured ex-Rhyl and TNS duo Alex Hay and Chris Taylor, Lee Atherton (ex-Rhyl), Chris Moores (Airbus) and Graham Jones (Caersws) in his line-up.
But TNS showed no ill effects from their midweek trek, taking the lead after just six minutes. Alfie Carter pounced on a clearance and cut-in from the left to fire an 18-yarder into the far corner of Steve Croudson's net.
Hay brought a fine save from Saints' keeper Paul Harrison with a piledriver, but Saints were unlucky not to double their tally on the half-hour.
Ronnie Morgan almost marked his return to Kirklands with a goal only to be denied by a double save from Croudson, with Carter's follow-up hitting the post.
Lairds came close to an equaliser just after the break when Gary Jenson turned on a sixpence to thunder a Jones' cross against the underside of the bar.
But minutes later TNS doubled their lead when Carter's shot was saved and Holden followed-up to score. The left-sided former Liverpool and Tranmere trainee had an impressive debut and for all the world looked like John Lawless in disguise!
The final period belonged to Lairds as they surged forward but the Saints were equal to anything thrown at them.
Chances came and went for Hay, Eddie Jebb and Alan Bull and Sheehan was unlucky to see a 25-yard rocket fly agonisingly high.