Scott Ruscoe wants The New Saints to focus on securing the top spot ahead of the league split in two weeks.

Saints have Newtown and Connah’s Quay Nomads left to play in phase one of the JD Cymru Premier, with Ruscoe’s men currently sitting top of the table after 20 games.

His side came close to losing the top spot in their last game, but two goals in the final five minutes ensured his men came from behind to take the three points.

Ruscoe said it is vital that his side does enough to hold on to first place in the table ahead of the split, in order to give his players confidence heading into the final 10 games of the season.

“It’s extremely important,” he said. “We’re top at the moment and we were five minutes away from losing that spot in our last match.

“But the desire and the application to keep on going and pick up those three points was excellent.

“Newtown are a tough side and have been one of our bogey sides over the years.

“We know roughly how they’re going to set up against us, but even so, they’re a tough side to break down.

“We’ve got to be aware of that.”

Earlier this season, TNS won in the first meeting with Newtown, after Dean Ebbe and Ryan Brobbel’s first half goals proved to be enough to take the three points.

This time, Ruscoe feels it could be a tougher task as they travel to Latham Park.

He said: “It’s been a tricky place to go over the years.

“Last year we did well there and the year before we picked up an excellent result there where we came from 2-0 down to come back and win.

“We’ve had a break now and we’re all feeling refreshed and ready to go.

“The break has come at a good time again – it’s important for the players to have a rest and spend some time with their families.

“We always make sure the lads know that if they put in the work required on the pitch, then they will get time off and they will be rewarded.

“The proof is in the pudding – last time we had a break we came back from it and did really well, so hopefully this time it will be the same.”

Beyond Friday night’s game, TNS meet second-placed Connah’s Quay Nomads, who Ruscoe believes will pose a different threat.

He said: “Connah’s Quay will pose a different threat – they’re very direct and physical and very well-organised.

“Earlier this season we played them and really should have beaten them.

“We had a penalty given which the linesman changed his mind about which I’m still under the impression was a penalty and Greg would’ve stepped up to that and scored to give us a 2-0 lead.

“That was a hard one to take, but we have to get on with it.

“It’s a game we’re well-prepared for, but we’re not going to focus on it too much until after Friday.”

Saints travel to face Newtown on Friday night (kick-off 8pm).