The New Saints wrapped up their eighth straight Welsh Premier League title on Saturday after a 4-0 win over Barry Town United at Jenner Park.
In all honesty, Barry didn’t put up too much of a fight, with the Southerners having already sealed Europa League qualification.
This was my first visit to Jenner Park, which doubles up as an athletics stadium. The 2000 seated capacity arena contains two huge stands either side of the pitch and was renovated just four years ago.
Total spent on the game? Well considering my mate’s dad gave us a lift there, expenses came to £8 – that’s including student entry, a programme, and a lukewarm hot chocolate.
Both teams came into this game on fine form. In their last three league matches, Barry had racked up an aggregate score of 11-2, while TNS had beaten Bala Town and Newtown 6-0 and 7-0 respectively.
Early on the home side were nearly one down, Aeron Edwards’ close-range header parried by was parried away by Mike Lewis.
The soon to be champions were piling on the pressure, and after seven minutes they had a deserved opener. Ryan Brobbel laid the ball back to Greg Draper who poked the ball in the bottom corner on the volley.
Meanwhile, a cluster of Barry fans in the opposite stand, including one armed with a microphone, were chanting, “you’re just a bus top in Shrewsbury!”
Murmurs started to surface of this being the worst Barry performance of the season. It’s pretty shocking to think both these sides had been neck and neck for the title earlier in the season, as TNS were starting to pass the ball about like they would in an exhibition game.
To be fair, Town striker Modou Touray was trying to do his bit, but all too often the Newport County loanee would drop into midfield for even a sniff of the ball. Just before half time, Brobbel crashed a free kick onto the bar.
In the second half, Barry defender Chris Hugh of all people got in behind the TNS defence. Nevertheless, Paul Harrison was there to make the save.
Down the other end, Brobbel expertly faked a shot inside the box for a ball roll, selling his man, but the attempt was sidefooted wide.
After 71 minutes, Scott Ruscoe’s side had their second. Jamie Mullen seeing his shot squirm through the arms of Lewis.
Seven minutes later it was three, Aeron Edwards headed in a chipped ball at the back post. By this point, TNS were toying with their former challengers, with Blaine Hudson lashing a volley over.
Toward the end of the game a small group of TNS fans, one with a green bowler hat and a microphone of his own, started giving it large in front of us. A favoured chant seemed to be “that’s why we’re Champions!”
And while the Barry supporters were singing to the dozen TNS fans, “you’ve only got one fan”, Jon Routledge finished a pullback to get the Saints a fourth. This delighted the away support prompting them to sing, “you’re just a bus stop in Cardiff!”
So that’s it for another Welsh League title race. At the start of the season, TNS were faltering, but the Oswestry based side turned it on as 2018 changed to 2019 and have thoroughly deserved their title.