Scott Young wasn't a happy man on Saturday
Current Welsh Premier League champions TNS began the second phase of the season, in identical manor to finishing the first twenty two matches; underlining their clinical winning style, against visiting Port Talbot Town. (reports Robert Clement).
Strikes from Michael Wilde and Alex Darlington left the Blues trailing by two goals with thirty minutes on the clock, and the Saint’s effectively killed off the contest, when Wilde claimed a second, as the host’s quashed Port Talbot’s strong start to the second half.
Second half stoppage time goals from Somerset born substitute Greg Draper and the ever threatening Ryan Fraughan only added to the visitor’s woes, with their recent impressive four game unbeaten run being abruptly halted.
The Saint’s starting line-up showed one change, after having gained a 3-0 victory against Aberystwyth Town, with Kai Edwards replacing ankle injured Steve Evans. Meanwhile Port Talbot were without flu victim Ashley Evans, along with unavailable Daniel Sheehan and Lee John, which allowed recalls for Martin Rose, Cortez Belle and Ryan Green, after the Steelmen had secured a point following their 2-2 visit to Bangor City.
Unfortunately the warning signs were clear to see from the outset, as the league leaders started strongly; Darlington found space inside the Port Talbot area to hook a shot wide in the opening minute, then Wilde unleashed a shot into the side netting shortly afterwards; that was then followed up with goalkeeper Stephen Hall doing exceptionally well to gather Simon Spender’s well struck drive, as the hosts maintained their high tempo approach.
Following a lengthy period of pressure on the Port Talbot rearguard, the Saint’s were a goal to the good after seventeen minutes, with a right sided shot from Fraughan cannoning back off the far upright, and Wilde was then well placed to slam the ball home.
With Rose back in Port Talbot colours following his early season move to Llanelli, the Portsmouth born striker tried to force an equaliser four minutes later, only to send a rising effort over the bar, after doing well to snap onto a Green opening.
The momentum gradually switched back in favour to the Saint’s, as they swept through the Port Talbot midfield with ease to double the lead, with Darlington converting from close range, following a well execute threat by Spender.
Port Talbot’s bright start to the second half was one of the few highlights in the contest, with Lewis Harling attempting to rally the side, by dominating the midfield as well as surging forward in support.
He broke into the final third twice in quick succession, first slipping the ball into the path of Rose, whose low pass across goal was unable to find a Blue shirt. He was again the instigator, reaching the by-line before delivering the ball to the far post, only for Rose to have the ball nicked from his feet by Phil Baker.
With Saint’s capable of turning the game to their advantage, Bonymaen born Chris Jones and Wilde ruthlessly applied additional pressure, with the TNS striker claiming his second goal on sixty two minutes, which effectively put the game beyond the reach of Port Talbot.
Adam Wright who replaced the injured Belle did manage to force Paul Harrison to tip the ball over the bar seven minutes later, with a dipping effort from outside the box, but in reality the Saint’s were never going to relinquish their lead.
TNS controlled both possession and tempo in superior manner, and despite enjoying a commanding advantage, their clinical instincts however did not wane.
Substitute Draper stole in and rounded Hall to extend their lead during the fourth minute of added on time, and that was immediately followed with the impressive Fraughan signing off with a curling effort from the right side of the eighteen yard area to find the roof of the net.
Having registered the accomplished outcome, TNS Director of Football, Craig Harrison spoke with Welsh Premier League reporter Robert Clement in the Park Hall Media Suite, with him being asked if he was more than happy on the outcome from the opening day of the second phase of the season.
“Yes, definitely, it was a good performance; we passed the ball and also defended very well. We knew that Port Talbot were going to be dangerous from set play, and they were in the second half with a series of chances, but we went out and played the way we can play, and we worked really hard to gain a good three points”.
Harrison agreed that the Saints kept going right until the end, with two goals during the added on time period.
“Definitely, without a doubt, that’s what happens if you pass the ball, you know that the team that are not in possession have got to work harder, so whether we score in the last minute or first minute it doesn’t matter, we keep doing what we’ve been doing and running teams down”.
It was suggested to the former Crystal Palace defender that with no fixture next week, it sets him up nicely for the game against Airbus.
“That’s right, it’s going to be a big game, Airbus are doing really well this season with them challenging for honours, but I still wouldn’t rule Bangor out, because there’s still a long way to go”.
With it being a situation of setting the standard on the opening day of the second phase of the campaign, Harrison responded to the result being the appropriate way his team to begin, and also continue.
“That’s correct, we’ve had a really good week beating Aberystwyth at home, Rhyl in the Welsh Cup and now Port Talbot; the lads have been absolutely fantastic, having worked so hard in and out of possession, and it sets us up nicely to go on and win as many games we can. It’s far from over, with nine league games left, Airbus are a very strong team, along with Bangor and Prestatyn, so we’re far from being near the finishing line at the moment”.
“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise to score twice in a minute right at the end, because we’ve got a big belief in what we have here; I can’t speak highly enough of the players, but we’ve got to keep the standards as high as we can every single game, one week doesn’t make a season; we’ve got our noses in front, but if we think that were just going to go on and win games without working hard, then there is going to be a big surprise if we don’t”.
Scott Young wasn't a happy man on Saturday
With Port Talbot having lost to an identical score line under former manager Mark Jones, on their previous visit to Shropshire in September, it was commented to Scott Young that it was a bad start, going behind after seventeen minutes.
“Yes, I’ve just said to the players that from the kick-off it was a shambles, and that sums us up for the rest of the game really”, he replied.
“If you get beat 5-0, you’re going to be disappointed, probably bordering on embarrassment really, but listen, you can make all the excuses under the sun, we’ve got players out today and that performance was not good enough, and they know that; I can assure you that they won’t perform again like that this season”.
With Bangor City coming up next week, Young was asked if it would be the perfect opportunity to bounce back.
“Yes, the fixtures come thick and fast; we put that to bed now, that’s gone and we’ll move on, we’ll train hard this week and try to get a result against Bangor”.
The former Cardiff City defender responded to his team at times, appearing to be chasing shadows.
“I’ll agree with you, but take nothing away from TNS, they’re a good team and they can do that to any other one of the teams at this level, but from a Port Talbot manager, that’s unacceptable today, but saying that if we had nicked one early second half and we had another chance, it’s 2-0. It’s then a different game, but overall we didn’t deserve anything from the game, and the two goals at the end were even more disappointing”.
The Tonypandy born boss was asked what he thought was missing from the ninety five minute performance.
“It’s difficult to say at the moment without reflecting on the game to see what went wrong tactically, but sometimes the players have to take responsibility, put their hands up and say they didn’t perform on the day. We as managers and coaches have to put out hands up in front of TV cameras and yourself every week and give reasons, but sometimes players have got to take responsibilities as well”.
With the score line 3-0 with ninety minutes on the clock, the unimaginable happens with an additional two goals being conceded with a minute.
“Correct, that’s very disappointing, but that’s what can happen, good teams punish you more despite coasting 3-0, and them putting two more on us”, replied Young.