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JD Cymru Premier: Weekend Round Up – March 18th & 19th

The New Saints are the JD Cymru League champions again – and would bet against them being crowned champions in 2024?

Certainly, no-one who’s taken a look at the club’s astonishing success over the past few seasons.

It was hardly the most spectacular clinching of a Championship. TNS ground out a weekend 0-0 draw against Connah’s Quay Nomads at the Deeside Stadium.

But it’s the statistics that demand people sit up and take note. They have now won 15 titles this century.

That’s 15 out of 23 seasons and when you consider that in the eight years they were not champions, they finished runners-up seven times and were third in the other campaign, then you get an idea of the extent of their dominance.

“Winning the league with five games still to go is testament to the winning mentality of this group of players and coaches,” said an admiring manager, Criag Harrison.

Ironically, Harrison started the season at the Nomads before returning to Park Hall.

His side has lost only once all season to date and dropped a mere 13 points in 27 games to secure Champions League football once again this summer.

“It’s brilliant and it’s what is expected of us. It is also a sweet moment and one I will cherish,” added Harrison, who won six titles, three Welsh Cups and three League Cups in his previous stint at TNS.

“We wanted to go out and win the game and we made changes to try to do that. But it is a difficult pitch to play on against a team that have made it a very difficult place to come and get a result in the last six or seven years.

“We knew we only needed a point to take the title, so perhaps a little bit of human nature crept in. If we weren’t going to win the game, the important thing was to keep another clean sheet.”

The Saints dominated the first half in terms of possession and territory, with Neil Gibson’s Nomads side content to sit deep. That meant there were few opportunities.

Ryan Brobbel went the closest in the 14th minute when his curling effort required a strong hand from home goalkeeper Andy Firth to turn the ball over the crossbar.

Leo Smith brushed the side-netting and when a shot from Declan McManus appeared to strike the arm of Nomads skipper George Horan in the box, there were cries for a penalty.

It wasn’t given and the stalemate continued to the end before the champions were able to celebrate another success.

TNS still have the JD Welsh Cup to defend against Bala Town, while the Nomads will be hoping to stay in second place to take the other automatic qualification spot for European football.

Kane Owen was the hero for Penybont as they won 1-0 at Newtown to move to within a point of the Nomads in second.

The home side had to play for the last 20 minutes with 10 men after Callum Roberts received a second yellow card, although Penybont also lost a man seven minutes later when Lewis Haring picked up his second card.

Bala Town and Cardiff Met played out a goalless draw in the other game in the Championship Conference, while in the JD Cymru Play-Off Conference, Aberystwyth made it back-to-back wins on the road after their 7-1 hammering of bottom of the table Airbus UK Broughton by winning 1-0 at Caernarfon Town.

Niall Flint was the hero for the Seasiders as he came up with the only goal of the game just before the break.

Caernarfon’s chances of getting back on terms took a dent when they had Laurie Bell shown a straight red card in the 54th minute.

Haverfordwest County plundered four goals at home to Airbus UK to extend their lead at the top of the Play-Off section to four points over Caernarfon Town.

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