THE NEW SAINTS maintained their grip at the top of the JD Cymru Premier after a battling 2-0 victory against Caernarfon Town on Tuesday night.
Second-half goals from Greg Draper and Blaine Hudson proved the difference, as Anthony Limbrick’s side made it seven consecutive wins at The Oval.
The result sets up an intriguing 1st vs 2nd clash this Saturday, as Connah’s Quay Nomads visit Park Hall in a game with title ramifications on the line.
The first opening for The Saints came in the 11th minute, after Louis Augustin gave away a free-kick for a foul on Adrian Cieslewicz down the left. Chris Marriott whipped in an inviting ball, but it came to nothing, and the hosts were able to clear.
With 17 minutes played, the returning Leo Smith worked space for a shot on the edge of the area, but some good defending from Gareth Edwards saw the effort blocked, before Sion Bradley tested Paul Harrison at the other end.
Cieslewicz tried his luck from outside the area in the dying embers of the first-half, but the strike cleared the Canaries’ crossbar and posed no danger for home goalkeeper, Tyler French.
Just three minutes after the restart, Caernarfon’s Bradley had another chance to break the deadlock, but his volley from inside the penalty area went well wide of the target.
The hosts had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 55th minute, when a Mike Hayes strike hit Ryan Astles inside the box, before Cieslewicz sent another effort wide five minutes later.
When Hayes sent yet another effort went wide in the 63rd minute, it was beginning to feel like one of those nights.
Three minutes later though, The Saints managed to find that crucial go-ahead goal, and it was substitute, Greg Draper, who sparked the celebrations.
Louis Robles got on the end of a long ball forwards, before looking up and spotting the New Zealand international in space. His weighted cutback fell perfectly into the path of Draper, who hammered home the vital opener from close range.
Following the goal, Limbrick’s side took a grip of the match, and could’ve doubled their lead with 10 minutes to play. It was goalscorer, Draper, who had the shot, but a deflection made it a comfortable save for French.
Moments later, the hosts were reduced to 10 men, when Noah Edwards pulled down Jamie Mullan, as the winger looked to burst into the area.
From the resulting free-kick, The Saints doubled their lead, and Chris Marriott was unlucky not to get the goal himself, hitting the crossbar with his shot.
The rebound fell kindly to Draper, who then teed up Blaine Hudson, and the central defender tapped home from inside the six-yard box to make things comfortable for his side, and secure another crucial three points in the hunt to regain the title.