Shropshire Star

The New Saints aiming to wrap up the title against their closest rivals

The New Saints, the runaway leaders in the JD Cymru Premier, know a point from tonight’s trip to Connah’s Quay Nomads (7.45pm) will be enough to be crowned champions once again.


Saints took another significant step towards confirming a 15th league title triumph when Ryan Astles grabbed a late winner in Monday night’s 2-1 victory at home to Bala Town.

With just six league fixtures remaining, the latest win for the Saints - a 21st from 26 league games this season - extended their lead over second-placed Connah’s Quay to 17 points.

Now the Park Hall side head to the Deeside Stadium to face Neil Gibson’s Nomads aware they will be able to start celebrating if they manage to avoid defeat this evening.

The two previous league meetings between the clubs this season saw Saints win the home clash between the sides 2-1 in Oswestry last August.

The points were then shared in the return fixture just before Christmas when Gwion Dafydd scored a late equaliser for Saints in a 1-1 draw.

TNS head coach Craig Harrison, who was manager of Nomads, after previously being assistant to Andy Morrison at the Deeside Stadium, before returning to Park Hall at the start of the season, expects a close encounter tonight.

“Yes, it will, without a shadow of a doubt,” said Harrison, ahead of Saints facing Connah’s Quay. “I know the players, I know the club very well.

“It’s been built on Andy Morrison being there for five or six years and a real solid base and some really, really good players, professional players.

“Players that are fantastic on the pitch and off the pitch, a really good group with spirit and do the basics really, really well.

“Obviously, Neil’s went in there and added his little bits and pieces to it as well. We know it’s going to be a tough game, we know that.

“The league doesn’t really lie. They are our closest competitors as we stand being second place and it’s been that give or take for the last five years.

“Obviously, Connah’s Quay Nomads won the league two years in a row and TNS were second in both of them, so for the last five years the rivalry has been really strong and healthy.

“But you’d like to think we’ve got an added incentive that we can go there and actually win the league championship on a close rivals ground is always probably a little bit more sweeter than it would be just beating somebody else, so we’ve got that added bonus of trying to do that.”

“But that will work both ways. Connah’s Quay will be, knowing the players and knowing the staff, they’ll be like there’s no way in the world we’re letting TNS win the trophy on our home ground, on our patch, so it will be a really tough game for both sets of players.”