Dafabet Welsh Premier League
Bala Town 4
The New Saints 6
by David Figg
The New Saints rounded off their Dafabet Welsh Premier League campaign on a winning note.
They bounced back from their surprise Good Friday loss at Bangor City with a dramatic win at third-placed Bala Town in a 10-goal thriller on Saturday.
This latest win by Saints – and Connah’s Quay’s scoreless draw away to Cardiff Met University – means Saints’ final winning points margin between top and second is 25, which is not only a new record under the super 12 format but just one short of the all-time league record of 26 set by Barry Town back in 1997-98.
Also, their final tally of 101 league goals is the first time they have achieved that feat in the Welsh Premier League.
It matches the achievement of Conwy United (101) in 1995-96, Barry Town (129) in 1996-97 and Barry (134) and runners-up Newtown (101) in 1997-98 of having scored 100 league goals in a season.
Furthermore, Saints’ final goal difference of plus-75 is the second- highest final goal difference in Welsh Premier League history, with the current record of plus-103 being achieved by Barry in both 1996-97 and 19997-98.
Bala took the lead in just the sixth minute when Jordan Evans’ long ball over the top found Ian Sheridan, who ran through before firing a low right-foot shot from the edge of the box into Saints’ keeper Andy Wycherley’s right-hand corner.
Saints equalised in the 11th minute when a low through ball found Adrian Cieslewicz, who beat the offside trap before firing his low shot past Lakesiders keeper Ryan Goldston’s and into the corner.
It was 2-1 Saints in the 14th minute when Steve Saunders’ low through ball found Ryan Brobbel on the left, who fired past Goldston.
Bala were awarded a penalty on 16 minutes when Anthony Stephens was judged to have been brought down in the box, but he was brilliantly denied to his left by Wycherley, with the rebound falling to Ryan Wade who fired over from six yards.
Bala levelled on 37 minutes; Sheridan escaped his marker to run on to a through ball and picked out a small pocket of space before curling his low shot home.
Just two minutes later, Bala were awarded another penalty and it was a case of second time lucky for Stephens.
It was 3-3 in the 42nd minute when a long ball forward found Scott Quigley, who wriggled free before seeing his lob from 25 yards misjudged by Goldston with the ball hitting the underside of the bar before crossing the line.
Quigley scored 54 seconds into the second half, sending his glancing header into Goldston’s bottom right hand corner to put Saints 4-3 up, while on 54 minutes Robbie Parry fired his right-foot shot into the corner to make it 5-3.
It was 6-3 in the 64th minute when Quigley fired a low shot from inside the box into the corner to complete his hat-trick, but David Thompson made it 6-4 on 82 minutes.
The match ended on a sporting note when both sets of players lined up to form a guard of honour the pitch for Saints defender Phil Baker, who was making his final league appearance for the club after 12 years.