The New Saints are finally back where they have spent the bulk of the past few years – on top of the Welsh Premier League table.
They eased into top spot courtesy of a 1-0 win over the previously-unbeaten leaders Llandudno at sodden Park Hall.
But it wasn’t without a few scares on the way.
The matchwinner came in the ninth minute, when the Seasiders made a mess of things at the back and Chris Seargeant drilled his shot low into the net.
For long periods, Saints looked in control as they popped the ball about and showed creditable patience in possession.
But all the time the score was only 1-0, there remained a threat that Llandudno could steal an equaliser.
TNS chances came – and then went. Jon Routledge was denied by keeper Dave Roberts when he probably should have done better, Jamie Mullan fluffed his lines, the busy Tom Holland dragged a shot off target and Wes Fletcher was too casual.
It all meant the interval came with just that one goal between the sides – and the game was never comfortable.
As the match wore on, Llandudno sensed their chance. Had Toby Jones kept his composure, he could have played his strikers clean through but a panicked pass let Saints off the hook.
And still Saints created chances of their own, and still they went begging.
In the end, they had 11 men behind the ball to keep out the Llandudno long balls to hang in to their slender advantage.
There were things to admire – Blaine Hudson looks a good prospect, Ryan Leak is comfortable on the ball and has energy to spare, old favourite Adrian Cieslewicz remains a handful for any defence and Jon Routledge pulls the strings nicely in midfield.
Any victory over Llandudno, who showed the confidence to be expected of a side who made an unbeaten start to the season, has to be welcome. Manager Scott Ruscoe will be delighted with that – but he’ll be a little concerned they made it tougher than they should.
But in football speak, a win’s a win. And the table doesn’t lie – Saints are back on top of the pile and showing some nice touches. Start converting chances, so their fans aren’t left chewing their fingernails at the death, and everyone will be happy.
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