By Rob Edwards
It could be the grudge match to end all grudge matches – reigning champions Connah’s Quay Nomads against the team that had won the title for the previous eight years, The New Saints.
Add in the fact the two clubs are currently unbeaten at the top of the JD Cymru Premier League and the importance of tonight’s clash at Park Hall becomes obvious.
But also in the equation is the difficult summer over lockdown that saw the Saints take the Football Association of Wales to the High Court to battle against the governing body’s decision to award the Nomads the title due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The perennial champions didn’t want to surrender their title without a fight.
They lost their High Court case and saw the Nomads play in the Champions League qualifying rounds in their place.
That hurt and their first meeting this season will be a chance for some form of pay back.
— ⚽ Sgorio (@sgorio) October 12, 2020
It will be the third time this year the two arch-rivals have met and it is 1-1 to date.
TNS moved four points clear at the top of the table with a huge 2-1 win on 18 January when they last met at Park Hall at the end of Phase 1 of last season’s league campaign, but when the two sides met again in Deeside on 21 February it ended 1-0 to the Nomads.
It was Craig Curran’s goal that split the two top teams on that occasion and it was his late strike against Cardiff Met last weekend that ensured his side stayed a point ahead of TNS at the top of the table with a 2-1 win.
Even so, TNS have a game in hand after their 2-2 draw with Bala Town was ordered to be replayed following a floodlights failure.
The Nomads have scored seven fewer goals in one less game and have conceded four goals.
If the Nomads want to hang onto their one point advantage at the top then they are going to have to find a way to beat Paul Harrison.
The goalkeeper, who learned his trade at Anfield with Liverpool, has managed to keep the ball out of his net in the league this season for 540 minutes with six consecutive clean sheets.
While Harrison has been solid at the back, the goalscorers have plundered 25 up front, including four more in a 4-0 warm-up win at Penybont last weekend. That made it a perfect six out of six for TNS.
“We’re big on clean sheets and they are important for us. We’ve had a few new players in and we are now getting to know what we’re all about,” said Harrison.
“It’s another big game on Tuesday night, but it’s just another three points. They’ve had a good start as well.”
TNS manager Scott Ruscoe is confident and can point to the face that the Nomads have scored seven fewer goals in one less game and have conceded four goals.
“I was really pleased with the win at Penybont. We moved the ball quickly and were all over them. We created chances but I thought there was still more room for some attacking play,” said Ruscoe.
“Six wins in six games takes us nicely into this game. It’s also nice to have scored 25 goals this season and not to have conceded any.”
Nomads boss Andy Morrison was pleased to have Sameron Dool back in his line-up last weekend after injury, but then saw striker Michael Wilde limp out of the match to make him a doubt for tonight.
JD Cymru Premier League
Tuesday, 13 October
The New Saints v Connah’s Quay Nomads (7.45pm)
Wednesday, 14 October
Bala Town v Barry Town United (7.45pm)
Friday, 16 October
Aberystwyth Town v The New Saints (7.45pm)