The New Saints 3
Bala Town 2
TNS ensured no title hangover with a Sunday victory at home to Bala Town establishing a 23 point gulf at the top of the table.
With the championship already secured at a canter the Saints could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal in their remaining programme.
Instead TNS almost led inside the opening eight minutes as Wes Fletcher twice went close, forcing goalkeeper Ashley Morris into action before firing over.
The Lakesiders have never beaten TNS with former Saint Conall Murtagh spurning their first opening from Ryan Wade’s 15th minute cross.
At the other end Connell Rawlinson met Jon Routledge’s cross only to head over the gaping target from four yards as TNS went close to opening the scoring.
However it was the visitors who led on the stroke of half-time with Murtagh glancing on Anthony Stephens’ right wing free-kick for Stuart Jones to head home.
TNS emerged for the second-half with more intent and purpose and within seconds were back on terms when Aeron Edwards and Jamie Mullan combined for Adrian Cieslewicz to slot home from close range.
However wasteful finishing from Mullan and Cieslewicz saw coach Craig Harrison ring the changes as Greg Draper and Alex Darlington joined the fray.
Bala soaked up the pressure but on 86 minute Murtagh was adjudged to have impeded Cieslewicz with the resulting penalty converted by Darlington.
Darlington also had a hand in the Saints third goal in injury-time, linking with Edwards for Mullan to net and seal the points.
However Bala had the final say when substitute Ian Sheridan volleyed home from 10 yards with the last kick of the game but it was not enough to prevent the Saints maintaining their all dominant record.
TNS: Harrison, Spender, Marriott, Routledge, Brobbel, Fletcher, Mullan, Saunders, Rawlinson, Cieslewicz, Edwards. Subs: Leca, Darlington, Draper, Wycherley, Quigley, Farleigh, Pryce.
ATT – 324
See full story in the County Times