Barry 0 TNS 1
Champions edge close encounter with Town
A first-half finish from the in-form Wes Fletcher helped Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints score a narrow 1-0 win at Barry Town United on Friday.
With the Saints having scored a total of nine times in the clubs' two previous encounters, it was expected that Barry would have their work cut out to contain their visitors.
However, an impressive and organised display from the Town left TNS frustrated for much of this contest, despite the wealth of possession enjoyed by Scott Ruscoe's full-timers.
Anchoring Barry's defensive efforts, centre-back Luke Cooper enjoyed one of his strongest outings in a yellow shirt to date, repelling the visitors' attacks with a cool confidence that was ably supported by teammates Chris Hugh, Ryan Evans and Paul Morgan.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Mike Lewis underlined his worth to the Barry cause with another standout appearance between the sticks.
Despite being forced to chase after the ball for lengthy periods, Barry would create a number of the game's best chances.
To that extent, both Kayne McLaggon and TJ Nagi would threaten the TNS goal before the visitors carved out their breakthrough.
It came in the 25th minute; former Manchester United prospect Jamie Mullan cutting the ball in from the right for teammate Fletcher to score from close range.
However, this was as good as things got for the perennial European campaigners, whose second half attempts were stamped out effectively by the hard-working Barry back-four.
While Ruscoe would be able to call upon the fearsome trio of Adrian Ciezlewicz, Greg Draper and Chris Sargeant as substitutes, Barry boss Gavin Chesterfield would make good use of his own attacking replacements; spritely Sam Jones and powerhouse Tyrrell Webbe bolstering the Town's pursuit of a second half equaliser.
As time ticked on, the home side's confidence appeared to grow and after Callum Roberts was booked for diving in the Barry penalty area, the Jenner Park faithful roared their team forward.
However, there would be no late drama on this occasion; the Saints professional prowess proving enough to thwart Barry's counter attacks and see them home with all three points.