The NEW Saints boss Scott Ruscoe has challenged his players to take a huge stride towards establishing their dominance at the top of the table over Christmas.

Saints host Cardiff Met at Park Hall on Friday, hoping to establish a seven-point gap over Connah’s Quay Nomads if the Deesiders also lose on Friday night.

And he believes that victory on Friday against Cardiff will only serve to add more pressure to their nearest title rivals ahead of the festive fixtures.

“We can break the back of this title defence in the next four games,” said Ruscoe, after his side beat Barry Town United 4-1.

“It’s important the players are aware of that – we don’t like to talk about other teams but we can see that now.

“I said to them before the Barry game, you’re a point ahead so do not get beat and then get overtaken by someone else.

“If you can get six, seven, even nine points clear, it sucks the life out of other teams who are left thinking ‘hell, TNS are on a run again’.

“But if there’s only one point in it then it’s always leaving them with hope.

“But the message to the lads was if we pull clear then teams start to play for second and third – we have that gap now so we should be able to push on.

“You’ve seen that with Cefn beating Nomads – can Connah’s Quay stay in it? Can Barry stay in it?”

Ruscoe admits he is happier to be playing the student side at home rather than having to make another trip to the capital.

He admits he is surprised that Cardiff are in a poor run of form, and believes his own side’s current form is proof that momentum is vital.

“I’m glad Friday’s game against Cardiff is at home because that can be a tough place to go,” he said.

“We drew there last time, an injury time goal, but the draw is the very least we deserved.

“They did play well – they are organised, they are fit and they can compete with us, but they’re on a bad run, losing at home to Aberystwyth.

“I was surprised at that result, and once you start little runs like this, you can’t get any form.

“Momentum is so important – it’s not arrogance, but we went into the last game thinking how well we did the week before so we’ll do it again.

“It rolls from one game into the next, and likewise on the flipside for Cardiff Met, they’ve had a few dodgy results but need a run to get into that top six – can they do that?

“The games we have coming up from now until the end of January are all games we’d prefer to have to be honest.

“You look at the boys and they know they have to do a job, but against bottom six teams, the lads could think they just have to turn up.

“It’s not right, but they’re only human; however, the Carmarthen game shows we had to be on it because they were up for it.

“I prefer the fact that Cefn are on a good run, Nomads are tough and Newtown are our bogey side.”

Kick-off is 8pm.