Word Cup semi-final: The New Saints 4 Carmarthen Town 1


Colin Channon

The New Saints 4 Carmarthen Town 1

The Word Cup semi-final

If ever a scene had been set for a cup upset, this was it.

The weather was awful - driving rain at the start, and the ball resembled a lightweight ping pong ball as the gales took effect.

Surely that would be a leveller?

The floodlights flickered and briefly went out before the start as they struggled to cope with the abnormal conditions. An omen?

The New Saints hadn't lost a domestic match at their Park Hall ground since November 2012. This couldn't be the night that proud run came to an end - could it?

When Carmarthen cancelled out Ryan Edwards' early opener - a smart headed finish by Liam Thomas - the impossible looked possible.

But then the real TNS came out to play.

They played some neat football, keeping the ball low to the ground and pinging it quickly around the park. Slowly, they wore down Carmarthen's stubborn resistance and chances were created.

Nine minutes before the break Simon Spender rattled in a rare goal - his celebrations were those of a man unaccustomed to being the centre of attention - and now they had the lead, they settled into an impressive rhythm. 

Shortly after the break Scott Quigley - back from a three-week ban - increased the advantage, and two minutes later, when he squeezed the ball home from a tight angle, just about ended the game as a content.

He had chances to complete his hat-trick, but they were squandered - but it was still a performance that would have impressed, even if there was no sign in the crowd of the Portsmouth scout who had taken in a recent game to run the rule over the striker.

Carmarthen, as expected of a side managed by no-nonsense defender Mark Aizlewood, the former Welsh international who starred for Manchester City, Leeds and Bradford among other clubs in a successful playing career, offered plenty of hard work, with little reward. Plenty of perspiration even if inspiration was lacking against superior opponents.

The New Saints are the only full-time professional outfit in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League, and that was evident as they finished by playing exhibition keep-ball and ran out the clock.

So the Word Cup holders booked their place in another final, against the winners of tonight's clash between Denbigh Town and Gap Connah's Quay.

That will be played at a neutral venue in January.

It'll take more than Storm Barney to knock them out of their stride.

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