TNS boss Craig Harrison branded Newtown’s decision to part ways with Chris Hughes a "very strange decision” after watching his side see off the managerless Robins at Park Hall.

Reigning champions TNS maintained their 15-point lead at the top of the JD Cymru Premier after ending the first phase with a 3-1 win over Newtown.

Goals from Brad Young, Jordan Williams and Declan McManus proved sufficient to end the challenge of the Robins, who equalised through Jason Oswell just after half time.

Newtown were facing their first fixture without former boss Chris Hughes in over a decade after the long-term Robins supremo departed by mutual consent in midweek.

County Times: Action from TNS' victory over Newtown.Action from TNS' victory over Newtown. Picture by Brian Jones.

"You expect a Newtown team to do that [make it difficult]. Unfortunately they've just lost their manager and they gave us a game away from home and they've done so again today, they've got some good players and it's very strange they've let a very good manager like Chris Hughes go, but that's how it is," said Harrison.


"They're sitting fourth in the league before today, so it's a very strange situation and a very strange decision. But that's by the by, other people make those decisions and we've got to concentrate on ourselves.

"We've done very well today, obviously it's a very difficult challenge as they're very physical, they've got two lads up front who are very strong and aggressive and have played at a good level and we dealt with them reasonably well.

County Times: Action from TNS' victory over Newtown.Action from TNS' victory over Newtown. Picture by Brian Jones.

"We stood up to Newtown's physicality and we were the better team by a million miles. It's been a really pleasing week."

The visitors started brightly and almost grabbed the lead early on when a Matty Jones free kick was tipped over the bar by TNS stopper Connor Roberts.

But seven minutes before half time it was the champions who turned their possessional superiority into a lead.

A slide-rule through pass by veteran TNS winger Ryan Brobbel played in Young, who took a touch out of his feet before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the corner from the edge of the penalty area.

County Times: Action from TNS' victory over Newtown.Action from TNS' victory over Newtown. Picture by Brian Jones.

Robins 'keeper Andy Wycherley had to be at his best to deny a snap shot from Rory Holden as the hosts looked to extend their advantage just after the interval, and from the resulting break out former Telford duo Henry Cowans and Oswell combined to level the scores.

A long, raking forward pass found Aaron Williams in space in the right hand channel, and after his effort was blocked, a cross from Cowans on the right was deflected onto the head of Oswell, who powered home a header into the bottom corner to equalise.

But Newtown hopes were dented on the hour mark when Saints re-took the lead.

A lovely chipped pass from Danny Redmond set up a foot race between Jordan Williams and Wycherley, the TNS man lobbing the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper and into an empty net.

And Newtown hope was extinguished in emphatic fashion with 5 minutes left on the clock, when Saints' top scorer Declan McManus made it 3-1 to the hosts with an audacious chip from just inside the Newtown half to leave Wycherley stranded.

The win extended TNS' winning run to 17 matches, their march to the title now seemingly unstoppable.

For the Robins, who have already qualified for the top six when the league splits into its second phase next week, their fortunes for the remainder of the season will hinge on their first managerial appointment in over a decade, as they seek to appoint a successor to Chris Hughes.

TNS: Roberts, Pask, Marriott, Daniels, Brobbel, Redmond, J Williams, Holden (Cieslewicz 85), Smith, Davies, Young (McManus 78). Subs: Thompson, Routledge, Hudson, Harlock, Jones.

Newtown: Wycherley, Roberts, Sutton, Evans, Oswell (Ismael 82), Robles, Williams (Boayke 90), Jones, Hughes, Smith. Subs: Ussher, Sharp, Sears, Mills-Evans, Downs