Saints slump again to Old Gold
THE New Saints lost their leadership of the Welsh Premier and their unbeaten home league record at Park Hall after a shock 3-0 home reverse to Carmarthen Town.
The reigning champions were on a revenge mission after disappointingly bowing out of the FAW Premier Cup at Carmarthen’s Richmond Park 11 days ago, but it was the visitors who defied bookmakers’ odds of 7/1 to repeat the same scoreline and inflict one of the worst home results for the hosts in recent seasons.
Tim Hicks, who scored a hat-trick on that occasion, again proved the scourge of Ken McKenna’s side with a goal in each half, with the burly Paul Fowler contributing the other goal.
It might all have been different had TNS not had an early goal somewhat controversially ruled-out for offside.
Kevin Townson was denied by the flag after finding the back of the net from John Toner’s pass in the 10th-minute but, after Scott Ruscoe had fired just wide from 20 yards, it was the visitors who took the lead in their first real attack.
Jamal Easter put in some good work down the right and his cross found Hicks unmarked in front of goal for the simplest of close range headers.
It took two home defenders to stop Fowler from adding another from a break upfield, but the Welsh Under-23 international was not to be denied in the 34th-minute, although his swerving 20-yard shot was helped on its way by a fumble from TNS keeper Paul Harrison.
McKenna range the changes at half-time and threw-on Jamie Wood upfront and an increase in tempo saw the Saints’ Toner force a save from keeper Neil Thomas.
Toner went close again, while the arrival of a third striker ended with sub Carl Lamb firing over from Scott Ruscoe’s free-kick.
Carmarthen weathered the storm and, from another breakaway, Gregg Coombes and sub Danny Thomas combined to create the opening for Hicks to grab his second goal and end the match as a contest.
McKenna will reflect on his side’s inability to create chances and will need an improved performance for the visit to Rhyl next Sunday and the double header with Llanelli which will undoubtedly decide the destination of the title.