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Thursday, 09 July 2015 07:00

TNS sweep aside Faroese champions

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TUESDAY 7th JULY - The Venue, Park Hall - dry, breezy.
THE NEW SAINTS 4 B36 TORSHAVN 1 (UEFA Champions League 1st Qualifying Round, 2nd Leg)

Back in Wales, and more normal temperatures, this week brings a chance to see The New Saints and Bala Town in their home legs, and tonight it's the Saints, defending a 2-1 win from their match in the Faroes. Hopes are very high of another Welsh win and progress to the next qualifying round, an unusual sensation to savour.
It's good to see TNS able to play these European games at Park Hall again (the ageing artificial pitch had not become unsuitable for UEFA games, but has now been replaced with a brand new one). The Venue is already busy as I arrive after the walk from Gobowen station a couple of hours before kick-off, and hospitality etc. is already underway - TNS have the facilities to exploit these occasions well. Those who've purchased gold or silver tickets can relax inside the centre before the game - but those with just match tickets are stuck with pretty limited facilities inside the ground - burger bar, portable toilets etc. Still, on a fairly pleasant, dry summer evening, that's not the hardship it might have been in more extreme conditions.

The Faroese champions have brought a few fans sporting black and white favours, but between them these clubs don't really have enough boisterous support to create an atmosphere, even though the ground is just about a sell-out (the crowd announced as 1,124). But there is an air of anticipation as the sides get the game underway at 7pm. TNS are on the attack early on and put B36 under pressure. A couple of early half-chances come to nought, but we don't have to wait too long for the breakthrough - 15 minutes in fact, Mike Wilde meeting a cross from the right with B36 keeper Thomsen already off his line and beaten. 1-0, a relief that the Saints are on their way, but actually it still means B36 need to score twice. We need another goal, and after a few more close shaves (and a dangerous free-kick at the other end), it duly comes in the 27th minute, Wilde receiving a through-ball obligingly left by defender and keeper, and steering it wide of Thomsen. Now B36 need three goals to save the game - things are starting to look very positive indeed for the Welsh champions. Wilde comes close to completing his hat-trick before half time - denied a couple of times by woodwork and keeper Thomsen - but two minutes into the second half he meets a ball nicely pulled back by Spender to make it 3-0 and 5-1 on aggregate.

TNS, now comfortably through, continue to dominate, though plenty of chances go begging. A couple of good chances are squandered - by Sam Finley and by Scott Quigley. TNS are not stretched, and can even afford the luxury of giving the ball away more than they usually do - they'll need to be much tighter than this in the next round.

Eventually, with full time approaching, substitute Matty Williams finishes oiff a fine passing move to add a fourth goal, but in stoppage time TNS are caught out by a quickly-taken free-kick and B36's Cieslewicz brother scores a consolation goal which no-one really begrudges the visitors. Job done - now TNS face the bigger test of Hungarian champions Videoton. Although we must await confirmation of dates, travel plans are already forming in our heads as we walk away from Park Hall, happy with a Welsh win in Europe.

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