TNS champions

The New Saints celebrate their 16th domestic Welsh title in style. Pic: FAW

Craig Harrison Reveals Secret To 16 New Saints Title Wins . . . Work Harder Than The Rest

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By David Williams

Craig Harrison insists there are no secrets to The New Saints’ 16th domestic Welsh title as he reflected on another dominant season.

The Saints boss saw his team sweep to yet another JD Cymru Premier crown with six games left to play as they notched their 25th win of their unbeaten campaign with a 4-0 win over Cardiff Met.

“We have scored some great goals, and played some great football, but before anything we work hard,” said Harrison, who scooped his eighth title as manager.

“This is what we all work hard for every day, every week and all season. We have had a fantastic lead for a while but we knew it wasn’t done yet.

“It won’t feel as good as the first one I ever had but then every one after that has been fantastic and you never get used to it.”

As soon as second-placed Connah’s Quay Nomads were beaten 1-0 at Bala Town on Friday night the focus at Park Hall turned to winning the title in breakneck speed.

Given the visitors to the home of the perennial champions were Cardiff Met, who had lost 8-0 on an earlier visit this season, it was a case of staying professional for Harrison’s side as they picked up their second piece of silverware of the season.

They had already won the Nathaniel MG Cup and are still in the semi-final draw of the JD Welsh Cup, which they hold, and will meet Airdrieonians in the final of the SPFL Trust Trophy final at Falkirk Stadium on 24 March.

So, it’s a case of two down, two to go, in another record-breaking season that has seen them go unbeaten in 38 domestic matches.

They are also hot on the heels of their own Guinness Book of Records landmark of 27 consecutive wins – this was their 23rd triumph on the trot.

Brad Young got the party started with the first two goals as TNS raced into a 3-0 interval lead.

That brace took his season’s tally to 21 in all competitions and he went on to clinch his fourth hat-trick of the season with a second half penalty.

His first was set-up by a raking pass from Danny Harrison into the Archers’ box and he had enough strength to hold off one defender before tapping the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.

The third goal of the first half came from Ben Clark, his 10th of the season.

Young said: “We are over the moon, and to get my hat-trick too I am over the moon personally.

“But it’s not over, we go again with more games coming up that are really important. I’ve come here to win trophies and I’ve won two so far, but we’ve got two more that we want to win.”

A George Newell penalty paved the way for Bala Town to close the gap on second placed Nomads to 10 points as they beat the team immediately ahead of them in the table 1-0 at Maes Tegid.

The former Everton and Bolton Wanderers player struck in the 56th minute to finally break the deadlock and his side gained back-to-back wins in the Championship Conference.

It was his 17th goal of the season in 30 matches in all competitions.

Now the race is on to try to catch the Nomads with six games and 18 points still to play for.

It was only the sixth league defeat of the season for the Nomads and they could take some revenge before the season ends as both are still in the hat for the semi-final draw of the JD Welsh Cup along with holders The New Saints and Cardiff Met.

The other game in the top tier – between Caernarfon Town and Newtown – went the way of the home side as Dan Gosset’s 37th minute effort split the two teams and allowed the Cofis to leapfrog Cardiff Met into fourth place.

In the Play-Off Championship, Pontypridd United reacted superbly well to having a further three points deducted from them for administrative problems by picking up a 1-0 win at Penybont.

Jan Maertens was the hero for the visitors as he struck in the 83rd minute to finally break the deadlock.

It meant for the second week running they climbed out of the relegation zone as they picked up their fifth win in their last seven outings.

Bottom of the table Colwyn Bay picked up a precious home point from their goalless draw against Haverfordwest County, while Aberystwyth Town had a Ben Woollam goal to thank for their 1-1 draw with Barry Town United.

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