Scott RUSCOE has again asserted his New Saints charges must start putting their chances away if they are to take advantage of the defensive foundations they are putting in place.
TNS kept a fifth successive clean sheet in the 1-0 win over former leaders Llandudno to return to the summit of the Welsh Premier League.
Ruscoe admits the miserly-like defensive work is pleasing him – especially as he has tinkered with the back four since the opening-day defeat to Bangor City.
“I’m delighted with our defensive solidity – that’s the most important thing,” said Ruscoe.
“We always say, game after game, that if we make our foundations right and keep a clean sheet, you can do anything.
“The way we play means we’re going to make lots of chances, so it’s about taking them. Yes, we scored only one goal on Friday night but again we controlled the match.
“In the first half we made chances but their keeper did well to save them. Overall it was a very good performance.
“I did come in afterwards a bit dejected, not because of the overall performance but in the way we’re not putting away chances. We’re not getting enough people reacting in the box.
“We’ve been working on it – when you get the chance, do you be selfish and finish it yourself or square it for a teammate to score?
“But the back four have been brilliant. Ryan Leak and Callum Roberts come in and since Steve Saunders has been injured, Blaine Hudson has been brilliant.
“He might have thought he should have started earlier after the Bangor game, but he’s not said a word and has been brilliant around the dressing room. His is proving to be a brilliant partnership with Connell Rawlinson.
“It’s great that we’ve maintained our clean sheets despite putting different players in those positions.
“This is because of the work we’re doing in training. The players know what they’re doing when they come into team.”
Ruscoe praised the attitude of his senior players who have been waiting for their chance to return to the starting XI, including Friday’s match winner Christian Seargeant.
But he warned players currently out of the side they have to prove their fitness to be given a chance.
He added: “Greg Draper is waiting for his chance while Sarge has come in and scored.
“We’re not just keeping the same side and we’re winning. Players know if they’re not performing to their maximum, they’ll come out of the side.
“The starting XIs have changed and there are potentially three changes to be made at the weekend. I’ve been pleased by the reaction of some of my senior players.
“You can see in their faces they are disappointed in training when we talk about the team who is going to start. But we’ve got 20-plus players and that doesn’t go into 11.
“If they’re doing what we ask of them, they’ll play – and if they’re not fit enough, they won’t.
“We’ve got Ryan Brobbel, one of the best midfielders in the league, but he needs to get to the level of fitness he needs.”
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