TNS are in the driver’s seat ahead of next week’s second leg against Lincoln Red Imps after a late Blaine Hudson header gave them the victory.

Scott Ruscoe’s side won 2-1, knowing that a clean sheet when they travel over to Gibraltar for the second leg next Thursday would be enough for them to progress to the next qualifying round.

There may still be a sense of regret for the Welsh champions who missed a handful of clear cut chances throughout the game that could’ve put them further ahead heading into the second leg.

Red Imps seemed to be settling well before TNS broke the deadlock just after five minutes had been played.

Striker Dean Ebbe latched onto Jamie Mullan’s cross and set himself up to volley the ball underneath the visiting keeper.

The visiting side tried to answer back instantly with their first chance falling to striker Falu Aranda after the 20-minute mark coming to nothing.

TNS almost doubled their lead when Mullan found himself free in the opposition box, and headed the ball on target, but goalkeeper Manuel Soler was well positioned to make easy work of the effort.

The Saints continued putting pressure on the Red Imps defence with an Aeron Edwards strike drilled narrowly wide.

Ruscoe’s side were left to rue their missed chances when the visiting side drew level on the half-hour mark through Gibraltar international Joseph Chipolina’s header.

Ebbe was replaced by Greg Draper 40 minutes in and almost made an instant impact when he broke through and forced the Red Imps keeper into a good save.

Ruscoe’s men had the chance to put themselves ahead again after the break with another close-range chance from Mullan put over the bar.

Chances were coming few and far between for both sides after the hour mark before the Saints looked almost certain to score when Draper beat the offside trap, rounded the keeper and pulled the ball back to Daniel Redmond who’s shot was cleared off the line.

Ruscoe has goalkeeper Paul Harrison to thank that his team didn’t concede a second as he pulled out a fantastic save to deny Red Imps an almost identical goal to their first one.

The Saints took full advantage of a free-kick in the last 10 minutes when centre-half Blaine Hudson rose above others in the box to head the ball into the bottom corner and give the Welsh champions the victory.

TNS now travel to Gibraltar for the second leg next Thursday, where a clean sheet would see them travelling to Cardiff to play FC Astana or FC Midtjylland.

TNS: 1. Paul Harrison 3. Chris Marriott 4. Thomas Holland 5. Benjamin Cabango 6. Jon Routledge

10. Daniel Redmond 12. Blaine Hudson 14. Jamie Mullan 17. Dean Ebbe 22. Kane Lewis

23. Aeron Edwards

Subs: 25. Connor Roberts 2. Simon Spender 8. Ryan Brobbell 9. Greg Draper 11. Adrian

Cieslewicz 20. Joash Nembhard 21. Kurtis Byrne

Lincoln Red Imps: 1. Manuel Soler 2. Jean-Carlos Garcia 3. Joseph Chipolina 4. Anthony Hernandez

5. Ryan Casciaro 8. Alejandro Moreno 9. Falu Aranda 20. Sykes Garro 21. Juan Manuel

Montesinos Romero 23. Alvaro Oliver 28. Diego Gamiz

Subs: 13. Jaylan Hankins 7. Lee Casciaro 15. Andre Luiz Dos Santos 18. Pedro Corral

19. Antonio Calderon 46. Louie Annesley 99. Juanma