10-MAN LIDO GIVE SAINTS A FRIGHT
TNS remain top of the Welsh Premier after a 3-2 victory at Afan Lido.
But after leading 3-0 at half-time, Saints made heavy weather of it at the Runtech Stadium.
Saints displayed their attacking ability after only three minutes when a 35-yard free kick from Martin Naylor flew narrowly wide.
Lido went close to snatching a 20th-minute lead when a poor clearance by Chris Taylor was seized upon by Kevin Bartley, but the defender quickly recovered and produced a timely interception to prevent a shot on goal.
Two minutes later, TNS led through a goal from Steven Beck. His inswinging cross from Michael Wilde's pass eluded Jamie Wood at the near post, but he did enough to unsight Lido keeper Brendan Cropley and the ball found its way untouched into the net.
Wood was again the key figure in Saints' second goal when he converted a penalty after being fouled by defender Phil Holmes. Although Cropley got both hands to the ball, he could not keep the spot kick out.
Three minutes later the two players clashed again, with Wood being grounded and then Holmes throwing the ball at him.
Players' patience erupted and there was a mass confrontation on halfway which also involved managerial and coaching staff, and the unsavoury incident was finally resolved when Holmes was issued with a second yellow. Saints' assistant manager John Carroll was sent from the dugout for his protests.
Deep into first half stoppage time, Mike Wilde produced a screamer from the edge of the area to give TNS a comfortable half-time cushion against the 10 men.
After the break Lido came more into the picture and on 55 minutes Bartley was allowed time to set John Felton up for his eighth goal of the season with a crisply struck shot.
Saints tried to restore their advantage only to be denied by Cropley and conceded another goal four minutes from time.
Substitute Chris Piper used his pace to full effect and from the edge of the area powered in a shot which rebounded off the post and Dean Williams' back into the net.
It set up a nail biting finish in a game Saints should have closed out earlier.
Afan Lido manager Mark Robinson said "It certainly was a very passionate match, but I couldn't agree with a number of decisions made by the man in the middle.
"Both myself and Ken McKenna were unhappy with a number of incidents which arose and went unpunished, and unfortunately the game burst into a free-for-all towards the end of the first half."