The New Saints will be fired up for a title charge
Scott Ruscoe says The New Saints are determined to strike back next season after their Cymru Premier crown was taken by Connah’s Quay.
The New Saints finished second after the Welsh top flight was brought to an early conclusion due to the coronavirus pandemic, behind Connah’s Quay on a points-per-game average.
The Park Hall side, who had previously won eight titles on the spin, appealed the FA Wales’ method of sorting teams in court but it was ruled in favour of the governing body.
Ruscoe’s side, including two new senior signings, have returned to training and are looking to next season – which begins for the Saints with a Europa League first qualifying round tie on August 27, with the draw still to be made.
“The lads are upbeat, I’ve had individual talks with them about last season and this season going forward,” Ruscoe said.
“They want to put things right. When you’re hurt or up against it and you finish second – when we all felt we could and would have finished as leaders if we finished the season – then they’ve got a point to prove.
“We won it eight times in a row and they wanted to make it nine, which would’ve joined only a certain amount of teams to do that.
“To fall short, we’re all disappointed. They’re human, they’re hurting as well, likewise with us staff.”
The Saints dropped points in all four of their final league games before the March lockdown, including their last match as Barry Town United grabbed a late point at Park Hall on March 6.
TNS led the way from Connah’s Quay when the league was split a month earlier, after teams have played each other home and away.
That was the time that owner Mike Harris argued would have been fairest to decide the outcome of the league campaign.
Ruscoe, who maintains his men would have made up the four-point gap to Nomads with a home clash against the eventual champions to come, admits the way the season panned out was a ‘reality check’ for TNS.
“It gives us a little kick up the backside and a reality check, so to speak. You can’t just coast along and be average,” Ruscoe added.
“There are players and teams that want to be taking your crown, which I always say to the players, we’ve got to go and prove it again and be that team that everyone else is looking up to.”