THE New Saints extended their JD Cymru Premier lead to 15 points after a comfortable 3-1 win against Connah’s Quay Nomads on Friday night (Jan 21).
Goals from Declan McManus and Ben Clark had Anthony Limbrick’s side leading at the break, before the visitors equalised from the penalty spot just a minute into the second-half.
McManus stepped up to score with a penalty of his own however – a goal which helped his side pick up another important three points.
There were a couple of chances for the visitors in the early stages, with both Craig Curran and Kris Owens forcing saves from Paul Harrison.
The first goal went the way of The New Saints though with just 12 minutes on the clock. After Declan McManus’ powerful header was well saved by Oliver Byrne, the rebound fell kindly for the Scottish striker, and the visiting goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent the second attempt from finding a way into the net.
Limbrick’s team settled into the game following the opener and could’ve extended their lead further in the 20th minute. Ryan Brobbel slipped as he shaped to shoot though, and the Nomads scrambled the ball clear.
However, The Saints didn’t have to wait too much longer for that second goal though, as it arrived in the 26th minute.
It was great skill from Ben Clark, as he sold Aeron Edwards inside the box with a deft touch, before curling a powerful effort past Byrne, and into the top corner of the net.
Jordan Williams thought he’d added a third for his side in the 32nd minute, but his header was ruled out for an adjudged foul on a Connah’s Quay man.
Down the other end, Paulo Mendes had a chance to pull a goal back for his side, but after spinning with the ball inside the penalty area, he could only find the side netting with a powerful strike.
Again Williams had the ball in the back of the net just a minute before the break, but once again the goal was disallowed – the assistant referee flagging for offside was the reason on that occasion.
Going into the half-time break with a two-goal advantage, things looked to be going smoothly for The Saints.
Just a minute after the restart though, Craig Curran went down inside the area under challenge, and referee, Lee Evans, pointed to the spot.
John Disney coolly sent Paul Harrison the wrong way, reducing the deficit for his side in the process.
Sensationally though, just two minutes later, The Saints went straight down the other end and won a penalty of their own, as Danny Holmes brought down McManus.
The Scottish forward stepped up to convert the spot-kick, bagging his 18th league goal of the season to immediately restore his side’s two-goal cushion.
On his debut, Nomads’ substitute, Connor Simpson, sent an effort over the crossbar in the 55th minute, as the visitors pushed for another way back into the match.
As the half wore on, Brobbel stung the palms of Byrne with a powerful edge-of-the-box effort in the 76th minute, but nobody in a green and white shirt was able to follow up on the rebound.
Despite pressure from the Nomads in the final 15 minutes, The Saints’ defence held firm to comfortably secure another important three points in the bid to regain the title.
Limbrick’s side are next in action on Friday 28th January, as they make the trip along the A55 to face Caernarfon Town.
Match report by Sam Wood