MORAN'S LATE WINNER A SICKENER FOR SAINTS
Richard Acton saves under pressure from Rhyl's Gary Powell [Keith Williams/Sportpixs]
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THE old cliche that goals wins games was never more true than in this top of the table clash, watched by a crowd five short of the all-time Welsh Premier record.
Saints paid the ultimate price for failing to convert their pressure into goals, when Andy Moran punished a late goalkeeping error to send Rhyl three points clear at the top.
Marc Limbert's free kick from the right was propelled goalwards by former TNS skipper Timmy Edwards, but Richard Acton appeared to have the ball safely in his grasp.
But it squirmed out of his hands to the feet of Andy Moran, and the league's leading scorer made no mistake from a yard out, although he appeared to be in an off-side position.
A minute earlier, Acton had produced a superb save to keep out a Limbert pile-driver, after good work on the left by Gary Powell. Moran headed just over the bar from the rebound with the goal at his mercy.
Moran had also gone close early in the first half, when his header struck and upright, but he was generally kept quiet by the Saints' defence, superbly marshalled by Steve Evans.
The middle third of the game belonged to TNS. Nicky Ward's stinging 20-yarder was well saved by Rhyl keeper Paul Smith, who again did well to keep out Chris Taylor after Martyn Naylor's corner was met with a powerful header from the edge of the box.
In the second period, Naylor and Taylor repeated the worked move, this time the defender seeing his effort shave the outside of an upright.
With three front men ably supported by Nicky Ward, Saints came close on several occasions, although Rhyl had chances.
Acton did well to beat away Moran's shot after a poor clearance by Taylor and was again alert to the threat when the Rhyl striker took advantage of a miskick by Steve Evans.
With three minutes left a draw seemed on the cards, but Rhyl had other ideas and their late rally forced the mistake from Acton before the keeper saved from Steve Walters and saw Moran narrowly fail to get on the end of Gary Powell's cross in injury time.