Saints put down a title marker
THE New Saints signalled their title ambitions with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat of reigning champions Rhyl at Park Hall.
The game was virtually over as a contest by half-time, as the Saints opened-up a three-goal cushion with goals from Steve Abbott, Scott Ruscoe and ex-Rhyl winger Craig Jones.
After weathering a bright start by the Lilywhites, TNS took the lead after 10 minutes when keeper James Coates could only parry Ruscoe's 20-yard shot and Jones crossed the loose ball for Abbott to rise highest and head home.
Rhyl almost levelled when Marc Connolly's shot hit the far post after a neat one-two with Lee Hunt, while Greg Strong tried a long-range effort easily held by Paul Harrison.
But the home lead was doubled on the half-hour when ex-TNS wing-back Martyn Naylor brought down Matthew Berkeley and Ruscoe stepped-up to convert his second penalty of the week.
Berkeley was denied when he had to stretch to shoot in a one-on-one with Coates and Aeron Edwards was close to adding another when denied by the keeper.
But the third goal arrived on 43 minutes when a Steve Evans through ball found Jones, who chipped Coates from the edge of the box.
Four minutes into the second-half, any hopes of a Rhyl revival were dashed when Coates again failed to hold a shot, this time from Ruscoe, and Berkeley gratefully accepted the chance from 12 yards.
The Saints were now in the comfort zone and display some neat passing football as the Lillies started to chase shadows.
And the visitors suffered a further blow when Marc Connolly was stretchered-off with a knee injury.
Jones was only denied the Saints' fifth goal by the crossbar, as TNS ended a superb week which saw a victory at Llanelli and a League Cup semi success against Port Talbot.