Wood leads Saints to Irish treble
SAINTS completed their three-game Irish warm-up with a comprehensive 4-0 defeat of last season's Irish Premier League runners-up Portadown.
In what looked like a tactical rehearsal for the Uefa Cup away leg against Osters on Thursday, Ken McKenna and Andy Cale played striker Jamie Wood in a lone up-front role and he rewarded their faith with a first-half hat-trick.
Wood showed deadly form, getting free from his marker after just five minutes to latch on to Chris Taylor’s precision long ball and cleverly lob Ports' reserve keeper Colm Gribben from 20 yards.
TNS looked solid and with 20 minutes gone went further ahead. Simon Davies and Steven Beck combined well in midfield to again set up Wood, who converted Beck’s square ball from 12 yards out.
Just after the half hour, former Nationwide League utility man Colin Alcide played a long ball over the top for Nicky Ward, who beat Neil Alderdice on the left and set up Wood's hat-trick with a first time cross.
Six minutes before the break, TNS completed a miserable first half for Portadown when Simon Davies attempted a one-two with Steven Beck and the ball deflected from a defender to leave Davies clear to add number four.
The bench took the opportunity to experiment after the break and gave all the substitutes a run out, but Saints remained in control and the only good chance of the half fell to Barry Hogan, who was denied by the home stopper.
Portadown substitute Scott McCordick had their best chance but he shot over the bar after rounding keeper Gerard Doherty.
Head coach Cale was pleased with the Saints' displays this week: "We’ve got better in every game and this was a disciplined performance," he said.
"Our formation has worked well and we will look at tapes of Osters next week before making a decision on our final tactics."