TNS staged a dramatic second-half fightback to stun Newtown in a Boxing Day derby thriller at Latham Park.
The Robins faithful were in dreamland as Jamie Reed’s double established an interval lead before the Saints stormed back with three goals in 15 minutes at the start of the second-half to snatch the points.
The Saints comeback was marred by the 66th minute dismissal of Greg Draper for kicking Kieran Mills-Evans but the Robins failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage as TNS held out to go seven points clear at the top of the table.
TNS began the match with their trademark slick passing game ensuring Newtown encamped in their own half with the home goal surviving several goalmouth skirmishes with Ryan Brobbel and Draper denied.
However Newtown survived the early pressure and on 25 minutes the Robins were awarded a penalty when Mills-Evans was clattered by a rash challenge from Chris Marriott with Reed slotting home the resulting spot kick.
Draper’s volley was saved by goalkeeper Dave Jones before Marriott’s low shot was blocked as TNS looked to restore parity.
Instead Newtown doubled their lead on 30 minutes with Luke Boundford and Nick Rushton linking on the right to release Reed who fired beyond goalkeeper Aron Hughes to the jubilation of the home crowd.
TNS continued to dictate the match with mounting possession but the Robins soaked up the pressure with an outstanding defensive display with Mills-Evans and Craig Williams marshalling the rearguard.
The Saints pressure told early in the second-half when Marriott’s left wing run was ended by Boundford with referee Bryn Markham-Jones pointing to the spot with Draper keeping his nerve to slot home.
Draper went from hero to villain within the space of a minute with the New Zealander seeing red moments later after kicking out at Mills-Evans while chasing a clearance.
The frantic pace of the game continued with the Robins almost restoring their lead when Reed’s flicked throughball to Boundford unlocked the Saints defence only for the latter to drill agonisingly wide.
The Saints were galvanised levelled with two goals in as many minutes.
Blaine Hudson lashed home from 35 yards to silence the home crowd with one of the goals of the league season so far on 73 minutes and with Newtown still reeling Brobbel slotted home Jamie Mullan’s right wing cross two minutes later.
The stage was set for a thrilling climax as TNS looked to defend their lead while Newtown sought to salvage a point against the 10 men Saints.
Reed’s audacious 35 yard lob saw Jones back pedalling to save before the young Saints goalkeeper produced the save of the day to deny Newtown a last gasp leveller.
Williams found Boundford who combined with Reed to release Tom Goodwin whose well struck shot forced an outstanding save from Jones as TNS held out for three points.
NEWTOWN: Jones, Williams, Mills-Evans, Sears, Harries, Boundford, Goodwin, Denny (Kershaw), Mitchell (Kenton), Reed, Rushton (Murphy). Subs: Perry, Evans
TNS: Jones, Spender, Hudson, Rawlinson, Marriott, Routledge, Holland, Edwards (Parry), Brobbel (Darlington), Mullan, Draper. Subs: Seargeant, Leak, Pryce, Clark
Att – 297