SAINTS MAY PAY THE PENALTY
SAINTS take a slender lead to Belle Vue on Tuesday in the second round of the Challenge Cup, but may well come to rue a failure to increase their goal tally against Rhyl's 10 men.
A tale of two penalties at the end of both halves may well hold the key to the outcome of the tie.
After 42 minutes of mainly fruitless action, a shot from Steve Evans was handled on the line by the luckless Marc Limbert and David Bridgwater stepped up to slot home the penalty.
Limbert was dismissed by referee Andy Woodthorpe, but TNS found the going just as tough in the second half and again had to rely on a penalty award to provide their best opening.
With the game in its last minute of normal time, a Rhyl defender again handled in the box and this time substitute Jamie Wood placed the ball on the spot, only to see his shot brilliantly turned away by keeper Paul Smith.
Playing a starting line-up with a makeshift look, in which Australian James Hesketh made his debut, TNS were on the back foot for most of the first period and were flattered by their interval lead.
For the second time in three days, they found playing against lesser numbers no easy task and introduced leading scorers Jamie Wood and Mike Wilde after 65 minutes in an attempt to boost their strike power.
But the change made little difference against a resolute Rhyl defence, although Wood did spurn a great chance when his header from Bridgwater's cross missed the target.
TNS did hit the post after 28 minutes through Martyn Naylor and the excellent Steve Evans was just denied a minute later after a Naylor free kick.
Rhyl keeper Smith made a rare error when he spilled the ball but atoned by saving from Nicky Ward.
The visitors had their moments in the second half, with Chris McGinn firing straight at TNS keeper Gerard Doherty when through on goal, and substitute Stuart Graves beating two defenders before shooting wide.
But the Lilywhites will be happier than Saints with the final scoreline from a game which promised much but delivered little in the way of excitement for the small crowd.