Sharp at the double to sink Carmarthen
CHRIS Sharp broke his duck with a brace as The New Saints won a tricky encounter at Richmond Park in an entertaining contest.
The margin of victory would have been higher if the Saints had been able to convert several good chances and they almost shot themselves in the foot by gifting Carmarthen an equaliser.
Craig Jones should have given TNS an early lead when outpacing Nathan Cotterrall, but was denied by keeper Neil Thomas in a third minute one-on-one and Cotterrall was forced to make a crucial clearance from Phil Baker's shot on the quarter hour following a series of corners.
Steve Abbott fired wide from a good position, while an overhead kick from Aeron Edwards flew just wide of the far post.
Just before the half-hour, the Old Gold came more into the game and a clever side step from Tim Hicks played in Craig Hughes, who made a hash of his shot.
Scott Ruscoe's shot was blocked and Sharp's follow-up went wide and, as Town counter-attacked, Hicks scooped the ball onto the roof of the net.
The deadlock was broken three minutes after the break when Craig Jones fed Sharp whose 18-yarder curled into the net off the inside of the far post.
But, within minutes, Carmarthen when level when keeper Paul Harrison fumbled a clearance from opposite number Thomas at the feet of Hicks, who had the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.
Sharp rounded Thomas on the break but found himself with a narrow angle and his shot went across the face of goal to safety, but the hosts thought they had scored only for Danny Holmes to clear a Craig Hughes effort off the line following a Cotterrall corner.
Then, with eight minutes remaining, a free-kick fell to Sharp who fed the ball to sub Alex Darlington and netted the return pass from eight yards for the winner.
In a frantic finale minute, Holmes was booked for a tackle on Smothers, who was then red-carded for retaliating to the challenge, and manager Deryn Brace was sent to the stands by referee Mark Whitby for his over-enthusiastic protests.