Cefn Druids 0-2 TNS (Aeron Edwards 34, John Routledge 88)
A goal in each half brought Cefn Druids’ year to a losing end as The New Saints chalked up a record breaking 27th consecutive win.
Aeron Edwards and John Routledge proved to be Druids’ undoing at The Rock despite a determined performance by The Ancients.
Huw Griffiths kept with the same starting eleven that began the Boxing Day defeat to TNS and that loyalty nearly paid rewards in the opening 30 seconds when Mike Pritchard flashed a shot wide of Paul Harrison’s goal from the angle of the penalty area.
The New Saints’ first opportunity came in the third minute when Simon Spender’s low cross from the right was met by Ryan Brobbel but his shot was saved by Michael Jones at his near post.
Jones was again down low to make another save in the 19th minute as he tipped Adrian Cieslewicz’s low drive around the post.
The Druids keeper was becoming the hero of the hour as, in the 27th minute he made a point blank save to deny Greg Draper’s close range effort following Spender’s low cross.
Then, two minutes later, Jones tipped another effort on to the post and then reacted quickly to make another point blank save before a third effort went high and wide of the target.
But there was nothing the home stopper could do in the 34th minute as Edwards beat the offside trap and beat Jones from 15 yards out.
Druids had the opportunity to equalise four minutes before the break when Naim Arsan’s long throw was flicked on in to the path of Steve Blenkinsop. The striker’s header, however, lacked any real power and Harrison was able to make a comfortable save.
Four minutes into the second half Druids had penalty appeals turned down as Adam Hesp appeared to be brought down inside the area. Blenkinsop latched on to the loose ball but saw his effort saved.
The visitors had the opportunity to double their lead in the 57th minute but Alex Darlington’s header went narrowly over the bar.
With fifteen minutes remaining Druids were again indebted to Jones’ heroics as Cieslewicz’s shot took a wicked deflection of Jordan Barrow and looked destined for the top corner of the net. But Jones dived at full stretch to his left and tipped the ball around the post with his right hand.
The Saints should have maded the game safe in the 86th minute when Brobbel was played through one-on-one against Jones but, again it was the ‘keeper who won the day as he narrowed the angle and made himself big to block the shot.
But the second goal arrived with two minutes remaining on the clock as Routledge got the ball 25 yards out and found the back of the net to wrap up the points and send his side into the record books.
Cefn Druids: Michael Jones, Kyle Parle (Adam Eden 76), Adam Hesp, Matthew Eckersley, Jordan Barrow, Stuart Cook, Steve Blenkinsop (Jordan Harper 83), Michael Pritchard, Naim Arsan, Fisnik Hajdari, Corey Roper. Substitutes not used: Matty Cook, Theodorakis Chrisokhou, Daniel Lloyd, Jordan Williams.
The New Saints:
Paul Harrison, Simon Spender (Ryan Pryce 44), Chris Marriott, Connell Rawlinson (Phil Baker 46), Steve Saunders, Aeron Edwards, Jon Routledge, Adrian Cieslewicz, Ryan Brobbel, Alex Darlington (Jamie Mullan), Greg Draper. Substitutes not used: Andrew Wycherley, James Jones, Christian Seargeant, Jacob Farleigh.
Referee: Kevin Parry