Depleted Druids punished by champions
TNS away is always a tough game and with Druids fielding a depleted squad a uphill battle was envisaged, star man Mudimu still away on international - Ruane, Cartwright & Morris all out.
Draper opened the scoring early on, taking advantage of a stray pass to fire past Michael Jones from 12 yards out.
Druids recovered somewhat and fashioned a couple of half-chances through Arek Piskorski and Michael Pritchard, the former going closest but hitting his effort straight at Paul Harrison.
Saints then regained control of the half, Aeron Edwards creating space inside the box but firing just wide, whilst Ryan Pryce then hit the bar moments later. Ryan Brobbel then thought he had doubled Saints’ lead, only to be flagged offside.
Tom Holland though did do so four minutes before the break, lashing a low 30-yard drive into the bottom corner of Jones’ goal.
Druids needed to start the second half well if they were to get anything from the game. Unfortunately for them they were four down within five minutes of the restart, Draper securing his hat-trick with a looping header and then chesting a Mullan cross home from yards out.
After that the game settled, with both sides continuting to create chances. Kevin Kauber should have done better when through on goal, but couldn’t control the ball with only Jones to beat. Matty Owen then had Druids’ best chance, his free kick evading everyone in the box before hitting the post.
There was still time though for another goal, Draper getting his fourth and Saints fifth after more good work down the right by Mullan left him with a simple finish. Druids though deserved a goal, and duly got one in the final minute when Matty Owen tried his hand again with a free-kick and this time managed to beat Harrison.
TNS 5-1 Druids
(TNS = Draper '6, '47, '49, '83 / Holland '42)
(Druids = '89 Owen)
Referee: Bryn Markham Jones