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Connah's Quay Nomads vs The New Saints FC
JD Cymru Premier
Friday 21st February 2020 | 8:00pm
Deeside Stadium, Connah's Quay | Attendance: 492
Connah's Quay Nomads went four points clear at the top of the JD Cymru Premier on Friday evening with a 1-0 win over The New Saints at Deeside.
In a game ravaged by Storm Ellen, a Craig Curran goal in the seventh minute of injury time in the first half was enough to hand Nomads a significant win in the title race.
• Game played throughout strong gales of Storm Ellen
• Nomads went close with Horan denied by Harrison
• Curran's 45+7 volley at the death of the first half sent them ahead
• Organised Nomads battle to go four points clear
The game was billed as one of the biggest of the JD Cymru Premier season, as Nomads welcomed TNS to Deeside sitting at the top of the table, just one point below the 2nd placed visitors.
It was Connah's Quay's third meeting with TNS this season, with their most recent clash a 1-0 loss at Park Hall to mark the end of phase one and Nomads' only second league defeat.
Since then, they went on a run of four back to back wins, scoring 16 and conceding none, lifting the Nathaniel MG Cup and progressing to the quarter finals of the JD Welsh Cup in the process.
TNS had meanwhile endured a stuttered start to their phase two, losing out against Newtown in a shock 2-1 loss at Park Hall and drawing 1-1 with Bala at Maes Tegid in the previous week.
Andy Morrison made just one change to his side, replacing Danny Harrison with Priestley Farquharson as he looked to Jamie Insall, Michael Wilde, and Craig Curran to threaten upfront.
TNS boss Scott Ruscoe handed starts to Ryan Brobbel, Jamie Mullan and Aeron Edwards, but golden boot holder Greg Draper wasn't included in the night's squad.
The game began and was straight away impacted the by wind, which was blowing towards the TNS goal in the first half.
Nomads looked to use it to their advantage, sending throw ins into the TNS end through Priestley Farquharson, whose long deliveries would prove vital in the game.
In the 12th minute there was a lengthy stoppage, as a tackle between Kris Owens and TNS Keston Davies unfortunately forced the Saints' man to come off for further treatment with Owens seeing yellow.
When play got back underway, Nomads were still looking to create chances regularly, with Wilde shooting just wide from 18 yards in the 19th minute, and a short corner from Declan Poole being whipped wide with a cross-come-shot from Kris Owens in the 22nd.
In the 25th, Owens was again in the thick of it as he sent a 30 yard free kick on target that had to be pushed out for a corner by keeper Harrison.
Such was the strength of Storm Ellen's gales that it was hard to predict where the ball would end up once it was kicked into the air, but Nomads continued to react well and work hard in the Saints' half.
One of the best chances of the first half came in the 34th, when George Horan had a close range header kept out by Harrison with a point blanc reaction to deny Nomads the lead.
In a rare TNS chance in the 42nd, a well-timed block from Farquharson stopped the prolific Ryan Brobbel from getting a shot away at 15 yards.
A minimum of seven minutes' injury time was indicated at the end of the half, and this went on to be the vital moment of the match for Connah's Quay.
Just as referee Lee Evans was nearing the signal for half time, a long throw in from Farquharson was headed on by Wilde, allowing Craig Curran to strike a brilliant volley over the keeper and in to make it 1-0 for the interval.
Boosted by their opener, the Nomads came out in the second half with the wind now against them and knowing they were in for a battle to keep the score in their favour.
The ball was soon in the Nomads end with TNS winning a corner in the 49th, but Callum Morris stood on the ball to help regain possession for the home side.
Andy Morrison's side again showed their mettle on 53 minutes, with Danny Holmes coming out on top of a battle with Danny Redmond on the right wing of the Nomads' half to win a free kick.
With an hour played, the Nomads were putting on a great display of game management and discipline across the field, as they continued to stifle TNS' efforts for an equaliser.
The likes of Jamie Insall were helping keep the Saints at bay as well as hunt for opportunities upfront, as his tackle on the halfway line in the 65th helped keep Nomads in possession.
Insall then nearly got a chance on goal after good link up play from Roberts and Curran on 69 minutes. From the left wing, Roberts put the ball near him inside the six yard box, but it rolled across the face of goal to just evade him and be collected by Harrison.
The game entered its final 15 minutes and with Nomads still looking the team on top, the atmosphere grew at Deeside as the Connah's Quay faithful began to sense a big result.
There were more chances for Nomads to extend their lead, with the ball spilling to Michael Wilde from six yards in the 79th, but again Paul Harrison managed to stop him.
It took until the 83rd minute for Nomads to make their first change, which replaced Jamie Insall with defender John Disney who shored up his side's solid defence.
With the full time whistle close, Connah's Quay's composure was yet again showing as Callum Morris made another decisive tackle to stop a Saints run in the 87th.
Goalscorer Craig Curran was then substituted to a standing ovation, and swapped for Ryan Wignall who added pace to Nomads' attacking line as the game entered injury time.
A minimum of four minutes of additional play were given, and TNS were handed a last chance saloon to equalise in the 92nd when they won a free kick on the edge of the Nomads' area.
The set piece was sent wide, giving Nomads the chance to keep possession, and they did just that well to earn a well deserved win at Deeside.
The result sends them four points clear at the top of the JD Cymru Premier, with seven games left to play.
They now turn away from the league to focus on the JD Welsh Cup, welcoming Cardiff Met to Deeside on Saturday 29th February for a 2:30pm kick off.
Match report by Will Catterall
Craig Curran and Jamie Insall celebrate Curran's strike | © NCM Media
Craig Curran puts The Nomads ahead in the seventh minute of first half injury time | © NCM Media
George Horan heads for goal | © NCM Media
Michael Wilde goes for goal in the second half | © NCM Media
Kris Owens was named the Sgorio Man of the Match | © NCM Media
The Nomads' Goalscorers