One of the best says Craig Harrison

Published date: 07 March 2017 |
Published by: Barrie White 
Read more articles by Barrie White  Email reporter


 

Craig Harrison has ranked The New Saints’ sixth consecutive Dafabet Welsh Premier League title as one of his best after they sealed the championship on Saturday.

Four goals in a 20-minute spell, including a Jamie Mullan double and finishes from Adrian Cieslewicz and Steve Saunders, blew Bangor City away at The Venue.

Harrison, who conceded his first title in 2011/12 will be hard to beat, believes his small squad were written off before a ball was kicked.

“The first one had a lot of relief,” he said. “But after that, this is the most satisfying one for a few reasons.

“One, the league is stronger – there’s no doubt about that. Bala have just signed Jordan Evans who is a Welsh under-21 player, while you look at Bangor, who’ve gone in a different direction with Daniel Nardiello and Gary Taylor-Fletcher, while Henry Jones is a very good player.

“Also, at the start of the season, there were questions asked of us, about letting players go and that we were not going to win the league.

“After all that, that’s why winning the league [this year] was probably my second favourite out of the lot. I think it’s possibly the smallest squad we’ve won it with.

“We had three goalkeepers and 19 outfield players. Last year, I had 26 – but what’s been important this year is the quality of the players.

“Any of them could have played at any time.”

After TNS squeezed past Bangor in the Welsh Cup last week, Harrison called for his players to return to winning in style – and feels that’s exactly what they did on Saturday.

He added the players themselves wanted to put right recent performances and Harrison saluted their attitude as a group.

“We were very good on Saturday,” he added. “We had a good week’s training and a few truths were told.

“It’s something about the modern era that annoys me – when I was a player, we did match analysis only because the manager wanted to have a go at you.

“Everyone takes plaudits, but when you get criticised, you’ve got to accept it, move on and take the positives from it. In our society now, no-one can take criticism.

“When I was a player, you didn’t speak to each other nicely – there was probably a lot of industrial language. But we live in a protected world now.

“But our players knew last week wasn’t good enough. On Saturday, the performance and result was good enough.

“We were ruthless in front of goal in that 10-minute spell either side of half-time.

“Up until then, we looked after the ball and moved them about, but the final third wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be.

“I said that at half-time and the players responded with three goals in a 20-minute spell. That was brilliant.”

TNS return to action on Sunday as they host Bala Town at Park Hall (4.15pm).

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