It was a highly anticipated game at the Deeside Stadium on Friday night infront of the cameras as last season’s top 2 locked horns on what was a wet night to say the least.
It was a bright start for last season’s champions as they almost went ahead inside 2 minutes after Jamie Mullan was inches away from connecting with a cross in from Danny Redmond.
It was then the turn of the Nomads who were a point ahead of the Saints before kick off, George Horan going close for the hosts from a corner. During the set piece, TNS defenders Keston Davies went down holding his head which sparked an altercation between the two sides, as if we expected anything less than a fiery encounter. Callum Roberts and Paul Harrison saw themselves cautioned as a result. Moments later it was George Horan joining them in the book for a late challenge.
For the next few minutes it was a dead game, the champions having the majority of the possession. Nembhard really should have given them the lead after 11 minutes with the only real chance in that period of the game but he managed to scuff his shot. This was a game that would be decided by wasted opportunities.
For the minutes that followed the game slowed right down with not much to separate the two sides as they fought for the ball in the middle of the park. The first big moment in the game coming on 23 minutes when another pinpoint cross from Danny Redmond fell to Aeron Edwards who fired home, only for his goal to be ruled offside by the officials. Frustrating for the Saints. The chances kept coming as Jamie Mullan found himself in the middle of every attacking move they made. Two big chances in as many minutes as the Connah’s Quay rearguard had to intervene. Lewis Brass also did well to deny the winger after a well taken effort.
The Saints then had another golden opportunity to put themselves ahead, this time through Dean Ebbe. Again, Mullan created the opportunity with another excellent ball in however Ebbe’s half hearted header went wide of the mark.
It was starting to look like it was a matter of time before the Saints got their goal. Two free kicks for the Saints which were wasted by Marriott and Brobbel as the home defence held strong.
Nomads had their biggest chance of the half when the ball fell to Michael Wilde inside the 18 yard box, he turned the defenders well but couldn’t manage the shot as he watched the ball cleared upfield.
The final chance of the half fell once again to Dean Ebbe. A brilliant counter attacking move saw himself and Redmond combine expertly. He found himself 1 on 1 with the onrushing Lewis Brass who makes an exquisite save to keep the scores level.
At half time things had to change for Nomads. Jamie Insall and Michael Bakare replaced Priestley Farquharson and Daniel Harrison.
However, the champions weren’t about to let off the steam as they came flying back out of the blocks in the second period and on 52 minutes it appeared that Mullan was tripped in the area, however any claim was waved away by referee Mark Petch. A few minutes later Mullan was again fouled, this time by Callum Roberts who was given a stern talking to by the referee as he looked to be on his final warning. Once again it came to nothing.
The away side kept the pressure on, bombarding the Nomads’ 18 yard area with free kicks and corners that they seemed to be dealing with well. But on 62 minutes it all changed when Dean Ebbe finally gave the Saints the lead. The ball into the box entered a swarm of players, it wasn’t dealt with by the Nomads defenders which allowed Dean Ebbe to trickle the ball past Lewis Brass who was excellent all night.
The Nomads then knew what they needed to do. It was almost an instant reply from Connah’s Quay as Mike Wilde leaped above the TNS defenders to get to the ball but couldn’t direct his header on target. Moments later it was the substitute Bakare who turned the TNS defenders and ran at goal. His shot deflected behind for a corner. The Nomads then nearly equalised from the corner as the ball was just inches away from sneaking inside the post.
The first change for the away side came with 20 minutes to play as goalscorer Dean Ebbe was replaced by Greg Draper, Hoping the Saints would once again find their rhythm. However the Nomads had other ideas as they kept up the pressure and this time Declan Poole went close on 73 minutes as he cut inside brilliantly from the right hand side and forced Harrison to make an excellent save.
A moment of madness with 12 minutes to go as Danny Holmes was penalised for hand ball and referee Mark Petch pointed for a TNS penalty, surely now game over. However moments later after consulting with his assistant the referee overturned his decision and called for a drop ball!
This didn’t distract the Nomads as 3 minutes later the game was level. Jamie Insall madr a fantastic run from the half way line, his shot was blocked by Harrison before the onrushing number 9 smashed the ball home to give the hosts a deserved equaliser.
The Saints then pushed hard for a winner that never came, massive pressure and two free kicks just weren’t enough as the game finished level. Arguably a fair result considering neither side were at their best and considering how the game went. This result put the Nomads top at the end of the weekend following Barry’s defeat to Caernarfon on Saturday. TNS still occupy 3rd spot.
(Image credit: Connah's Quay Nomads F.C)