Welsh Cup Focus: Can Nomads find a way past TNS?
The New Saints will arrive at the Bangor University Stadium with reason to be confident ahead of their JD Welsh Cup semi final against gap Connah’s Quay Nomads.
They are world record holders for consecutive amount of games won in football, already the Dafabet WPL and Nathaniel MG Cup champions – and now they are looking to secure a treble of trebles and fourth consecutive Welsh Cup.
In their way is a Connah’s Quay side gunning for their first major cup final since 1998 and, perhaps more importantly, their fourth victory over the Saints in the past two seasons.
However, the Nomads have lost their last two semi finals – all of which were against The New Saints. So can they beat TNS on their third attempt?
Since Andy Morrison’s arrival at Nomads, a great rivalry with TNS has risen, as Morrison continues to mould his team into a dynamic side who have occupied the top three for the majority of the season and aim to have some players on a full time basis this year.
This season, TNS shrugged off claims that gap were going to challenge them for the title with a 17 game winning run that included home and away victories over Nomads.
However in a league meeting at Deeside, just as TNS looked to have silenced Connah’s Quay again leading 1-0 with over an hour played, the Nomads hit back. Goals from John Disney and Declan Poole handed TNS only their second loss of the season and Nomads’ third win against the Saints in just over a year.
Both teams will have a sense of deja-vu on Saturday, which is their sixth meeting this season and third consecutive cup semi final clash. In last season’s JD Welsh Cup semi final Nomads went into the game off the back of another 2-1 win over the Champions, but were brought down to earth in a 5-0 thrashing.
Nomads will be keen to avoid this, but have been handed a mighty boost by the decision to play the semi finals on Bangor City’s grass surface. All of Nomads’ recent victories against TNS have been on grass, and they may utilise the natural surface to maintain a physical defence against the Saints’ fast paced forwards in the likes of Scott Quigley and Ryan Brobbel.
This year’s venue will definitely give Nomads reason to be confident, but Andy Morrison has already stated his side must perform at the highest level to achieve what would be a cup upset in its own right.
— gap Connah's Quay (@the_nomads) March 30, 2017
His counterpart Craig Harrison has also revealed how big of a day Saturday is to the club, as he looks to complete another round of Welsh football domination.
— The New Saints FC (@tnsfc) March 30, 2017
On the pitch there will be little separating the sides, with Kai Edwards, Michael Wilde and Matty Williams all ex-TNS players now representing Nomads. Fitness, strategy and skill will all play massive parts in the game where small margins are likely to make a big difference.
The New Saints go into the game as favourites for all the right reasons, but if Nomads perform, their Welsh Cup winners status may just be under serious threat.
Photo Credit: NCM Media