RED CARDS COST SAINTS DEAR
THREE players were sent off as TNS lost pole position in the League of Wales with this hard-fought defeat at a rain-drenched Treflan.
Starting three points clear at the top, the Saints made a disastrous start with 'keeper Gerard Doherty dismissed after just 12 minutes when he was deemed to have have picked up the ball out-side the box following the linesman's intervention.
Yet, despite the early blow, the Saints looked relatively untroubled in the first half with stand-in 'keeper Robbie Wood hardly called into action.
They should have taken the lead on 26 minutes when debutant Scott Ruscoe crossed from the left but Nicky Ward, unmarked at the far post, could only send his header wide.
Ged Hinnigan headed against the inside of the post at the other end in Rhyl's best first-half opening.
With the pitch standing up remarkably well despite the relentless downpour, both sides proved a greater threat going forward after the break.
And it was the Saints who made the breakthrough on the hour as Ricky Evans released Nicky Ward, who beat Billy Stewart at the second attempt after the advancing 'keeper had blocked his initial effort.
This setback seemed to spur the Seasiders with Wood called into his first action on 62 minutes when pushing Andy Moran's close-range volley on to the bar.
But Rhyl were not to be denied three minutes later when Jon Kenworthy's free-kick was blocked, the ball eventually running to Colin Webster on the right of the box and the ex-TNS defender's angled strike beat Wood into the top left-hand corner.
With tempers fraying, Saints' midfielder Chris Edge and Rhyl defender Michael Jackson were both sent off for an off-the-ball incident on 70 minutes.
And the visitors made the most of the increasing space to take the lead on 77 minutes when Matthew Cross's shot found Moran, who fired home from six yards.
TNS, however, were not ready to surrender and went close to salvaging the game when Ruscoe struck the bar with a 30-yard free-kick.
Justin Perry also lobbed over while fellow substitute Steve Anthrobus headed wide late on, but Rhyl held firm to move into third.
With Barry Town defeating Afan Lido 3-2, the Saints have now been deposed as league leaders on goal difference.