BATTLING TNS SECURE VITAL THREE POINTS
BATTLING Total Network Solutions shook off Rhyl's plucky resistance to keep their noses in front as the race for the League of Wales crown enters its decisive week.
Scrambled second half strikes from Tim Alexander and Steve Evans secured a hard-earned 2-1 success over the seasiders at rain-drenched Treflan to leave the destiny of the title finely poised.
But the Llansantffraid men were made to sweat before sinking Rhyl for a win that kept them two points clear at the top, while also guaranteeing at least a place in the UEFA Cup for next season.
With the saturated conditions underfoot making free flowing play difficult, determination and commitment was the order of the day.
And neither side shirked, although TNS had the better of a goalless first period with John Toner squandering three good chances.
The striker had one effort blocked, sliced another wide, while moments later he saw a weakly struck shot squirm past keeper Danny Embleton only to be cleared off the line.
Anthony Wright also sent a looping header just wide of the post while Steve Evans had a headed effort ruled out for pushing.
Rhyl, however, started to become more of a threat with Karl Evans and Darren Wynne both narrowly off target with long range efforts before the interval.
Yet, it was the Saints who made the crucial breakthrough four minutes into the second half when Garry Evans found Alexander in space in the box. The midfielder's initial effort was partly saved by Danny Embleton, but he quickly followed up to force the ball into the net.
Sparked by this setback, Rhyl enjoyed their best spell of the game and hit back on 56 minutes when former TNS striker Danny Barton headed home firmly at the far post from Stuart Pickthall's right wing cross.
But the hosts, despite surviving a couple of anxious moments, were not to be denied and struck what proved to be the winner on 70 minutes when Ricky Evans's right wing free kick was flicked on by Tim Edwards and Steve Evans slid the ball in at the far post.
Rhyl continued to battle right to the very end but failed to mount any sustained pressure as the Saints, despite keeper Lee Williams struggling with a knee injury, held firm for a vital three points.
Photo: Peter Evans sees his shot blocked by the TNS defence.