SAINTS MADE TO WORK BY CHIRPY CANARIES
CAERNARFON helped to derail Saints' title challenge last season and threw another spanner in the works as they held the leaders to a 2-2 draw.
The Oval has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for TNS and so it proved again, with the Canaries establishing a two-goal interval lead.
It took a tremendous fightback by the Saints to salvage a point, which could even have been three but for Justin Perry's late turn and shot hitting the Cofis' crossbar.
The rot set in after 14 minutes when on-loan Altrincham keeper Richard Acton got the rudest of welcomes from his temporary team-mates.
Martyn Chalk's right wing cross missed Steve Watkin and was headed gloriously past an astonished Acton by Saints' Martyn Naylor.
The defender almost made amends, but his shot from inside the box went straight to Ian Willcock in a serious of first-half raids that foundered on the massed ranks of the home defence.
Things went from bad to worse eight minutes before the break. Caretaker manager Wayne Phillips played a one-two from a free kick and drove the ball towards goal, where it rebounded nicely off Chris Taylor's legs for Calvin Davies to stab home from close range.
Caernarfon almost went further ahead after the break, when Tommy Holmes lost control of the ball and Richard Acton saved bravely at the feet of Davies.
Although Saints upped the tempo considerably, they were again denied by dogged defending and it took a moment of inspiration from Tommy Holmes to break the deadlock.
A Naylor free kick was only cleared as far as the defender, who found himself in rarified territory 25 yards out and smashed a superb shot into the top corner past a helpless Willcock.
Spurred by the goal and the introduction of Michael Wilde, Saints went in search of an equaliser and were rewarded 11 minutes from time, when the substitute striker sidefooted past Willcock at close range from Jamie Wood's pass.
The Cofis were now hanging on grimly but the closest Saints came to a winner was Perry's effort that hit the woodwork.