TNS manager Craig Harrison insists his side fear no-one after the Welsh champions beat Forfar Athletic in the IRN BRU cup to book a quarter-final showdown against Livingston.
Greg Draper’s hat-trick clinched an impressive 3-1 victory over the Scottish Division Two side at Station Park as the Saints made their debut in the cup competition’s revised format.
Earlier in the day, Bala had been knocked out by visiting Alloa Athletic, but the Saints had no such issues as they showed their class late in the second half and scored two goals to progress.
Forfar are top of Scottish league Two, while Livingstone have won six of their eight league games this season are second in League One, a point behind Brechin.
After Saints’ success on Saturday, fans’ message boards were insisting the Welsh champions could be the team to beat.
Harrison was delighted with the win and said: “I thought from the first whistle until they scored we controlled the game completely – we were excellent.
“We maybe weren’t clinical enough – I thought if we had got a second goal early on it might have seen them off, but as we all know a one-goal lead can be really tough to keep.”
Harrison conceded the Forfar equaliser late in the first half had ‘knocked the wind out of their sails’, but insisted he was delighted with the resolve of his players.
He added: “Credit to Forfar – they put us under pressure. They’re very physical and our league is nowhere near as physical as that.
“Their style of football is very direct and they play 4-4-2 and move the ball from back to front – so it was a very different style for us to deal with and I think we did it reasonably well.
“They did put us under pressure in the second half but we weren’t hanging on. We got to the last 20 minutes and I think because we moved the ball so well in the first half we wore them out and we got the opportunity in the last 15 minutes to play and get back to passing after we rode out the storm.”
Harrison hailed an ‘outstanding’ individual performance from the Kiwi marksman Draper, who has been in prolific form this season.
“Greg’s had only three chances and he’s scored three goals – he’s been absolutely clinical. It’s a fantastic individual performance on the back of a fantastic run that he’s had.”
While it would be unfair to make a judgment solely on the basis of this game, Forfar boss Gary Bollan was hugely impressed with what he saw from TNS.
He said: “We had watched them a few times and the manager had been down to see them but it was only playing against them in this match that you realise just how good they really are.
“The standard of Welsh football is obviously good if this experience is anything to go by.”
TNS travel to play Livingston on Saturday, November 12.
For a full match report from Saints’ win over Forfar, see this week's Advertizer.
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