Six-hit Saints overpower County
JOHN Toner led the way with a hat-trick as The New Saints cruised to an impressive 6-2 home win over Haverfordwest County.
Despite being without several key players, rested for Tuesday night's trip to Rhyl, the Saints were always in control and showed plenty of appetite for the contest, breaking down the Bluebirds' defence within four minutes.
After John Leah had fired an early volley over the bar, Toner grabbed his first to fire past keeper Lee Idzi from Paul Henry's inside pass.
A superb moved started by Steven Beck ended with Barry Hogan crossing to Michael Wilde, who laid-off the ball for Jamie Wood to score from six yards after 16 minutes.
When Idzi failed to hold John Leah's sharp 25-yard shot, Toner was on hand to follow-up and net the rebound to put TNS in the driving seat.
A sloppily-conceded goal from Luke Bowen gave County some hope of a second-half revival but Michael Wilde converted Wood's cross to restore the three-goal cushion within eight minutes.
Another Idzi error saw Wood take the ball round the hapless keeper's dive but he was beaten to the punch by Wilde, who tapped-in the fifth at the far post.
Jack Christopher took advantage of more poor defending to grab another for the visitors, but Toner had the last word five minutes from time, completing his threesome with the best goal of the game, a well-taken header from Henry's cross.
There were some good performances all round the park for the Saints, with Wood again showing how much he relishes the artificial surface and Wilde showing how much he was missed during a four-month absence with a man-of-the-match display.
The title is now out of sight following Llanelli's narrow home win over Airbus, but puts TNS six points clear of third-placed Rhyl ahead of Tuesday night's trip to Belle Vue.